PML/RARα fusion protein expression in normal human hematopoietic progenitors dictates myeloid commitment and the promyelocytic phenotype

F. Grignani, M. Valtieri, M. Gabbianelli, V. Gelmetti, R. Botta, L. Luchetti, B. Masella, O. Morsilli, E. Pelosi, P. Samoggia, P. G. Pelicci, C. Peschle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of fusion proteins in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is well recognized, but the leukemic target cell and the cellular mechanisms generating the AML phenotype are essentially unknown. To address this issue, an in vitro model to study the biologic activity of leukemogenic proteins was established. Highly purified human hematopoietic progenitor cells/stem cells (HPC/HSC) in bulk cells or single cells are transduced with retroviral vectors carrying cDNA of the fusion protein and the green fluorescent protein (GFP), purified to homogeneity and induced into multilineage or unilineage differentiation by specific hematopoietic growth factor (HGF) combinations. Expression of PML/RARα fusion protein in human HPC/HSC dictates the acute pro myelocytic leukemia (APL) phenotype, largely through these previously unreported effects: Rapid induction of HPC/HSC differentiation to the promyelocytic stage, followed by maturation arrest, which is abolished by retinoic acid; reprogramming of HPC commitment to preferential granulopoietic differentiation, irrespective of the HGF stimulus (transduction of single sibling HPC formally demonstrated this effect); HPC protection from apoptosis induced by HGF deprivation. A PML/RARα mutated in the co-repressor N-CoR/histone deacetylase binding reglon lost these biologic effects, showing that PML/RARα alters the early hematopoietic program through N-CoR-dependent target gene repression mechanisms. These observations identify the cellular mechanism underlying development of the APL phenotype, showing that the fusion protein directly dictates the specific lineage and differentiation stage of leukemic cells. (C) 2000 by The American Society of Hematology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1531-1537
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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