Cancer stem cells are a subpopulation of malignant cells that have the capacity of both self-renewal and reconstitution of the cancer. Eradication of cancer stem cells is crucial for curing the malignant disease. Previous studies in hematopoietic malignancies showed that leukemia stem cells (LSCs) in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) chronic phase are originated from a hematopoietic stem cell (HSC), while LSCs in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) can either be derived from HSCs or be transformed from myeloid progenitors. But in acute B-lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), the origin of leukemia stem cells is not clear. In this study, we tested whether BCR/ABL could transform B-lineage committed CD19+ cells to LSCs. We found that transducing BCR/ABL in CD19+ cells can promote their colony formation in vitro and induce B-ALL like disease in vivo. However, only BCR/ABL transduced whole bone marrow cells, but not CD19+ cells, can be transplanted multiple times in recipient mice, and the frequency of long-term LSCs from the latter ranges from 1/135 to 1/629. These studies suggest that LSCs in BCR/ABL+ B-ALL may originate from CD19- hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells and that CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T cell therapy may not be effective in eradicating LSCs in BCR/ABL+ B-ALL.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.