Leukaemia lineage specification caused by cell-specific Mll-Enl translocations.
Cano F., Drynan LF., Pannell R., Rabbitts TH.
Chromosomal translocations involving the Mixed-Lineage Leukaemia (MLL) gene underlie many human leukaemias and MLL rearrangements are found in both acute myelogenous and acute lymphoblastic leukaemias. To assess the functionally relevant haematopoietic cell contexts for MLL fusions to be tumorigenic, we have generated different lines of mice in which de novo Mll-associated translocations occur. In these models, reciprocal chromosomal translocations occur by means of Cre-loxP-mediated recombination (translocator mice) in different cells of the haematopoietic system (namely haematopoietic stem cells, semi-committed progenitors or committed T or B cells). Translocations between Mll and Enl cause myeloid neoplasias, initiating in stem cells or progenitors while no tumours arose when the translocation was restricted to the B-cell compartment. Despite the absence of tumorigenesis, Mll-Enl translocations did occur and Mll-Enl fusion mRNA was expressed in B-cell-restricted translocators. A permissive cellular environment is therefore required for oncogenicity of Mll-associated translocations since the occurrence of Mll-Enl does not promote unrestricted proliferation in all haematopoietic cellular contexts, consistent with a specific instructive role of the MLL-fusion proteins in leukaemogenesis.