Human HMGA2 protein overexpressed in mice induces precursor T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia.

Research paper by A A Efanov, N N Zanesi, V V Coppola, G G Nuovo, B B Bolon, D D Wernicle-Jameson, A A Lagana, A A Hansjuerg, F F Pichiorri, C M CM Croce

Indexed on: 12 Jul '14Published on: 12 Jul '14Published in: Blood Cancer Journal


T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is a neoplasia of thymocytes characterized by the rapid accumulation of the precursors of T lymphocytes. HMGA2 (high-mobility group AT-hook 2) gene expression is extremely low in normal adult tissues, but it is overexpressed in many tumors. To identify the biological function of HMGA2, we generated transgenic mice carrying the human HMGA2 gene under control of the VH promoter/Eμ enhancer. Approximately 90% of Eμ-HMGA2 transgenic mice became visibly sick between 4 and 8 months due to the onset and progression of a T-ALL-like disease. Characteristic features included severe alopecia (30% of mice); enlarged lymph nodes and spleen; and profound immunological abnormalities (altered cytokine levels, hypoimmunoglobulinemia) leading to reduced immune responsiveness. Immunophenotyping showed accumulation of CD5+CD4+, CD5+CD8+ or CD5+CD8+CD4+ T-cell populations in the spleens and bone marrow of sick animals. These findings show that HMGA2-driven leukemia in mice closely resembles spontaneous human T-ALL, indicating that HMGA2 transgenic mice should serve as an important model for investigating basic mechanisms and potential new therapies of relevance to human T-ALL.