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Thoene, Silvia; Mandal, Tamoghna; Vegi, Naidu M.; Quintanilla-Martinez, Leticia; Roesler, Reinhild; Wiese, Sebastian; Metzeler, Klaus H.; Herold, Tobias; Haferlach, Torsten; Doehner, Konstanze; Doehner, Hartmut; Schwarzmüller, Luisa; Klingmüller, Ursula; Buske, Christian; Rawat, Vijay P. S. and Feuring-Buske, Michaela (2019): The ParaHox gene Cdx4 induces acute erythroid leukemia in mice. In: Blood Advances, Vol. 3, No. 22: pp. 3729-3739

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Acute erythroid leukemia (AEL) is a rare and aggressive form of acute leukemia, the biology of which remains poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that the ParaHox gene CDX4 is expressed in patients with acute erythroid leukemia, and that aberrant expression of Cdx4 induced homogenously a transplantable acute erythroid leukemia in mice. Gene expression analyses demonstrated upregulation of genes involved in stemness and leukemogenesis, with parallel downregulation of target genes of Gata1 and Gata2 responsible for erythroid differentiation. Cdx4 induced a proteomic profile that overlapped with a cluster of proteins previously defined to represent the most primitive human erythroid progenitors. Whole-exome sequencing of diseased mice identified recurrent mutations significantly enriched for transcription factors involved in erythroid lineage specification, as well as TP53 target genes partly identical to the ones reported in patients with AEL. In summary, our data indicate that Cdx4 is able to induce stemness and inhibit terminal erythroid differentiation, leading to the development of AEL in association with co-occurring mutations.

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