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      Transformation from committed progenitor to leukaemia stem cell initiated by MLL-AF9.

      Nature

      Survival Rate, metabolism, genetics, Oncogene Proteins, Fusion, pathology, Neoplastic Stem Cells, Neoplasm Transplantation, Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein, Mice, cytology, Macrophages, Leukemia, Myelomonocytic, Acute, Leukemia, Humans, Granulocytes, Cell Transformation, Neoplastic, Cell Lineage, Cell Line, Cell Division, Cell Differentiation, Animals

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          Abstract

          Leukaemias and other cancers possess a rare population of cells capable of the limitless self-renewal necessary for cancer initiation and maintenance. Eradication of these cancer stem cells is probably a critical part of any successful anti-cancer therapy, and may explain why conventional cancer therapies are often effective in reducing tumour burden, but are only rarely curative. Given that both normal and cancer stem cells are capable of self-renewal, the extent to which cancer stem cells resemble normal tissue stem cells is a critical issue if targeted therapies are to be developed. However, it remains unclear whether cancer stem cells must be phenotypically similar to normal tissue stem cells or whether they can retain the identity of committed progenitors. Here we show that leukaemia stem cells (LSC) can maintain the global identity of the progenitor from which they arose while activating a limited stem-cell- or self-renewal-associated programme. We isolated LSC from leukaemias initiated in committed granulocyte macrophage progenitors through introduction of the MLL-AF9 fusion protein encoded by the t(9;11)(p22;q23). The LSC were capable of transferring leukaemia to secondary recipient mice when only four cells were transferred, and possessed an immunophenotype and global gene expression profile very similar to that of normal granulocyte macrophage progenitors. However, a subset of genes highly expressed in normal haematopoietic stem cells was re-activated in LSC. LSC can thus be generated from committed progenitors without widespread reprogramming of gene expression, and a leukaemia self-renewal-associated signature is activated in the process. Our findings define progression from normal progenitor to cancer stem cell, and suggest that targeting a self-renewal programme expressed in an abnormal context may be possible.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Gene set enrichment analysis: A knowledge-based approach for interpreting genome-wide expression profiles

          Although genomewide RNA expression analysis has become a routine tool in biomedical research, extracting biological insight from such information remains a major challenge. Here, we describe a powerful analytical method called Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) for interpreting gene expression data. The method derives its power by focusing on gene sets, that is, groups of genes that share common biological function, chromosomal location, or regulation. We demonstrate how GSEA yields insights into several cancer-related data sets, including leukemia and lung cancer. Notably, where single-gene analysis finds little similarity between two independent studies of patient survival in lung cancer, GSEA reveals many biological pathways in common. The GSEA method is embodied in a freely available software package, together with an initial database of 1,325 biologically defined gene sets.
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            Identification of human brain tumour initiating cells.

            The cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis suggests that neoplastic clones are maintained exclusively by a rare fraction of cells with stem cell properties. Although the existence of CSCs in human leukaemia is established, little evidence exists for CSCs in solid tumours, except for breast cancer. Recently, we prospectively isolated a CD133+ cell subpopulation from human brain tumours that exhibited stem cell properties in vitro. However, the true measures of CSCs are their capacity for self renewal and exact recapitulation of the original tumour. Here we report the development of a xenograft assay that identified human brain tumour initiating cells that initiate tumours in vivo. Only the CD133+ brain tumour fraction contains cells that are capable of tumour initiation in NOD-SCID (non-obese diabetic, severe combined immunodeficient) mouse brains. Injection of as few as 100 CD133+ cells produced a tumour that could be serially transplanted and was a phenocopy of the patient's original tumour, whereas injection of 10(5) CD133- cells engrafted but did not cause a tumour. Thus, the identification of brain tumour initiating cells provides insights into human brain tumour pathogenesis, giving strong support for the CSC hypothesis as the basis for many solid tumours, and establishes a previously unidentified cellular target for more effective cancer therapies.
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              A cell initiating human acute myeloid leukaemia after transplantation into SCID mice.

              Most human acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) cells have limited proliferative capacity, suggesting that the leukaemic clone may be maintained by a rare population of stem cells. This putative leukaemic stem cell has not been characterized because the available in vitro assays can only detect progenitors with limited proliferative and replating potential. We have now identified an AML-initiating cell by transplantation into severe combined immune-deficient (SCID) mice. These cells homed to the bone marrow and proliferated extensively in response to in vivo cytokine treatment, resulting in a pattern of dissemination and leukaemic cell morphology similar to that seen in the original patients. Limiting dilution analysis showed that the frequency of these leukaemia-initiating cells in the peripheral blood of AML patients was one engraftment unit in 250,000 cells. We fractionated AML cells on the basis of cell-surface-marker expression and found that the leukaemia-initiating cells that could engraft SCID mice to produce large numbers of colony-forming progenitors were CD34+ CD38-; however, the CD34+ CD38+ and CD34- fractions contained no cells with these properties. This in vivo model replicates many aspects of human AML and defines a new leukaemia-initiating cell which is less mature than colony-forming cells.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                10.1038/nature04980
                16862118

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