Blood 2007 Nov 15;110(10):3753-62. Epub 2007 Aug
Begley, CG.; Brake, RL; Duhrsen, U; Gothert, JR; Izon, DJ.; Smeets, M
Department of Hematology, University Hospital, Essen, Germany.
The acquired activation of stem cell leukemia (SCL) during T lymphopoiesis is a common event in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Here, we generated tamoxifen (TAM)-inducible transgenic mice (lck-ER(T2)-SCL) to study the consequences of acquired SCL activation during T-cell development. Aberrant activation of SCL in thymocytes resulted in the accumulation of immature CD4(+)CD8(+) (double-positive, DP) cells by preventing normal surface expression of the T-cell receptor alphabeta (TCRalphabeta) complex. SCL-induced immature DP cells were further characterized by up-regulated NOTCH1 and generated noncycling polyclonal CD8(+)TCRbeta(low) cells. The prevalence of these cells was SCL dependent because TAM withdrawal resulted in their disappearance. Furthermore, we observed that SCL activation led to a dramatic up-regulation of NOTCH1 target genes (Hes-1, Deltex1, and CD25) in thymocytes. Strikingly, NOTCH1 target gene up-regulation was already observed after short-term SCL induction, implying that enhanced NOTCH signaling is mediated by SCL and is not dependent on secondary genetic events. These data represent the basis for a novel pathway of SCL-induced leukemogenesis and provide a functional link between SCL and NOTCH1 during this process.