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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Hematology - Immunology - Molecular Biology - Oncology

Notch Ankyrin Repeat Domain Variation Influences Leukemogenesis and Myc Transactivation
Published: Thursday, October 13, 2011
Author: Jon C. Aster et al.

by Jon C. Aster, Nick Bodnar, Lanwei Xu, Fredrick Karnell, John M. Milholland, Ivan Maillard, Gavin Histen, Yunsun Nam, Stephen C. Blacklow, Warren S. Pear

Background

The functional interchangeability of mammalian Notch receptors (Notch1-4) in normal and pathophysiologic contexts such as cancer is unsettled. We used complementary in vivo, cell-based and structural analyses to compare the abilities of activated Notch1-4 to support T cell development, induce T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (T-ALL), and maintain T-ALL cell growth and survival.

Principal Findings

We find that the activated intracellular domains of Notch1-4 (ICN1-4) all support T cell development in mice and thymic organ culture. However, unlike ICN1-3, ICN4 fails to induce T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (T-ALL) and is unable to rescue the growth of Notch1-dependent T-ALL cell lines. The ICN4 phenotype is mimicked by weak gain-of-function forms of Notch1, suggesting that it stems from a failure to transactivate one or more critical target genes above a necessary threshold. Experiments with chimeric receptors demonstrate that the Notch ankyrin repeat domains differ in their leukemogenic potential, and that this difference correlates with activation of Myc, a direct Notch target that has an important role in Notch-associated T-ALL.

Conclusions/Significance

We conclude that the leukemogenic potentials of Notch receptors vary, and that this functional difference stems in part from divergence among the highly conserved ankyrin repeats, which influence the transactivation of specific target genes involved in leukemogenesis.

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