ELF-153 is a cell line that has been established from a patient with a poorly differentiated acute myeloid leukemia associated with an acute myelofibrosis. A majority of cells had a blast morphology with the phenotype of a myeloid hematopoietic progenitor, ie, CD34+, CD33+, CD13+, HLA-DR+, but CD38-, and the remaining cells (5% to 10%) expressed platelet restricted proteins such as CD41, CD42, CD36, CD61, and von Willebrand factor; some of them were polyploid (up to 32N) and exhibited demarcation membranes and alpha granules. No erythroid or other lineage-specific markers were detected. Proliferation of ELF-153 cells was highly stimulated by interleukin-3 (IL-3) and granulocyte- macrophage colony-stimulating factor and to a lesser extent by stem cell factor and IL-6. In contrast, the cell line did not respond to erythropoietin, leukemia inhibitory factor, IL-7, IL-11, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and basic fibroblast growth factor. ELF-153 cells could be separated by flow cytometry into three discrete cell populations (CD34+/CD61-, CD34+/CD61+, and CD34-/CD61+) with different proliferative and endomitotic properties corresponding to distinct stages of the mega karyocyte (MK) differentiation. This MK differentiation, which involved a minority of ELF-153, could be increased in the presence of 5-azacytidine and phorbol ester, but could not be significantly modified by growth factors. By contrast, cytochalasin B dramatically induced polyploidization without differentiation. It is noteworthy that association of 5-azacytidine to cytochalasin B dramatically induced the production of polyploid MK cells. To understand the molecular mechanisms underlying this MK differentiation, the expression of GATA-1 and GATA-2 was investigated in subpopulations of ELF-153. A high level of GATA-1 and GATA-2 mRNA was only present in the CD61+ cells. Therefore, these two transactivating factors may play an important role in the MK differentiation of ELF-153. We conclude that ELF-153 might be an important tool to investigate the mechanisms by which transcription factors control differentiation of MK progenitors.

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