We studied the relationship between granulocyte JAK2 (V617F) mutation status, circulating CD34+ cells, and granulocyte activation in myeloproliferative disorders. Quantitative allele-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) showed significant differences between various disorders with respect to either the proportion of positive patients (53%-100%) or that of mutant alleles, which overall ranged from 1% to 100%. In polycythemia vera, JAK2 (V617F) was detected in 23 of 25 subjects at diagnosis and in 16 of 16 patients whose disease had evolved into myelofibrosis; median percentages of mutant alleles in these subgroups were significantly different (32% versus 95%, P <.001). Circulating CD34+ cell counts were variably elevated and associated with disease category and JAK2 (V617F) mutation status. Most patients had granulocyte activation patterns similar to those induced by administration of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor. A JAK2 (V617F) gene dosage effect on both CD34+ cell counts and granulocyte activation was clearly demonstrated in polycythemia vera, where abnormal patterns were mainly found in patients carrying more than 50% mutant alleles. These observations suggest that JAK2 (V617F) may constitutively activate granulocytes and by this means mobilize CD34+ cells. This exemplifies a novel paradigm in which a somatic gain-of-function mutation is initially responsible for clonal expansion of hematopoietic cells and later for their abnormal trafficking via an activated cell progeny.
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