During the course of differentiation of early human myeloid cells toward monocytes and granulocytes, cell surface expression of the cell adhesion molecule, CD11b/CD18 (Mo1) increases dramatically and expression of myeloperoxidase (MPO), a bacteriocidal enzyme, decreases markedly. Using the inducible promyelocytic cell line HL-60 as a model, we studied the mRNA expression of these genes. Differentiation of these cells along both a monocytic and a granulocytic pathway demonstrated that the mRNA levels of the two subunits of CD11b/CD18 increased in a pattern temporally and quantitatively similar to the increase in cell surface expression of this heterodimer. In contrast, the expression of MPO mRNA decreased in a temporal and quantitative pattern similar to the known decrease in MPO protein during differentiation, suggesting that regulation of these myeloid-specific proteins may occur at the level of mRNA expression. These findings have important implications with regard to the nature of the block in differentiation in acute nonlymphocytic leukemia and the regulation of myeloid gene expression.

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