International Journal of Hematology

DOI: 10.1007/s12185-015-1774-4 Pages: 352-361

Molecular mechanisms of MLL-associated leukemia

1. Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Laboratory for Malignancy Control Research

Correspondence to:
Akihiko Yokoyama
Tel: 81-75-366-7441
Email: yokoyama@dsk.med.kyoto-u.ac.jp

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Abstract

Gene rearrangements of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene cause aggressive leukemia. The fusion of MLL and its partner genes generates various MLL fusion genes, and their gene products trigger aberrant self-renewal of hematopoietic progenitors leading to leukemia. Since the identification of the MLL gene two decades ago, a substantial amount of information has been obtained regarding the mechanisms by which MLL mutations cause leukemia. Wild-type MLL maintains the expression of Homeobox (HOX) genes during development. MLL activates the expression of posterior HOX-A genes in the hematopoietic lineage to stimulate the expansion of immature progenitors. MLL fusion proteins constitutively activate the HOX genes, causing aberrant self-renewal. The modes of transcriptional activation vary depending on the fusion partners and can be categorized into at least four groups. Here I review the recent progress in research related to the molecular mechanisms of MLL fusion-dependent leukemogenesis.

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