Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists identify crucial gene for blood development

16.03.2004


Blood cell formation depends on gene previously linked to leukemia



Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have pinpointed a crucial gene on which the normal development of the body’s entire blood system depends. If the gene is absent, even the most basic blood stem cells cannot be generated. In a mutated form, this gene can cause a rare and devastating form of leukemia.

Called MLL, the gene makes a protein that regulates the activity of a number of other genes involved in proper development of tissues and organs during embryonic life. The experimental results being published in the March 16 issue of Developmental Cell demonstrate that MLL is necessary for the development of the "master" stem cells that generate all the mature blood cells.


The team led by Patricia Ernst, PhD, and Stanley Korsmeyer, MD, reports that the discovery of the gene’s critical role should help unveil important mechanisms in how the blood system develops, and could lead to ways of manipulating it in normal and cancerous conditions.

"The MLL gene, which is required to make all blood cells, is also a cause of a distinct human leukemia, suggesting that the blood’s earliest stem cells are involved in this cancer," explains Korsmeyer, who is the director of Program in Molecular Oncology at Dana-Farber and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator.

MLL stands for "mixed lineage leukemia," an aggressive, often fatal type of blood cancer that affects a small number of infants and some adults who have relapsed following treatment for leukemia. Dana-Farber researchers identified this rare cancer in 2002 on the basis of its genetic profile – a specific pattern of gene activity in the cancer cells. It is caused by a mutation, or damage, in the MLL gene that results when the chromosome on which it resides breaks apart at that location. This chromosomal mishap leaves the MLL gene stuck in the "on" position so that white blood cells are overproduced, resulting in leukemia.

Scientists have previously found that chromosome breaks can damage other genes necessary for blood system development, and at least four such genes have been identified. The Korsmeyer group used embryonic stem cell methods to create cells in the laboratory as well as mice lacking the MLL gene, and showed that the gene’s absence had profound effects on the development of the blood-forming system – known as the hematopoietic system – that functions in embryonic, fetal and adult life.

A single hematopoietic stem cell can generate many different types of blood cells. This includes red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body, and at least seven different types of white blood cells, which help heal wounds and form the immune defenses. Adult animals that lacked the MLL were unable to manufacture the various types of mature cells, and fetal animals without the gene could not generate the critical blood stem cells, says Korsmeyer, who is also the Sidney Farber Professor of Pathology and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

These results show, the authors write, that MLL is part of "a select set of genes required for all definitive blood lineages in the embryo." The protein made by the MLL gene is known to regulate some of the master genes, known as HOX genes that guide the formation of body tissues and organs. Malfunction of these genes has been implicated in several types of cancer.

The paper’s other authors are Jill K. Fisher, William Avery and Stacey Wade of Dana-Farber and Daniel Foy of Children’s Hospital Boston. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and the Beckenstein Fellowship.


###
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.danafarber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.

Janet Haley Dubow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.dfci.harvard.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>