Retroviruses induce myeloid leukaemia in BXH-2 mice by the insertional mutation of cellular proto-oncogenes or tumour suppressor genes. Disease genes can thus be identified by proviral tagging through the identification of common viral integration sites in BXH-2 leukaemia. Here, we describe a new approach for proviral tagging that greatly facilitates the identification of BXH-2 leukaemia genes. Using this approach, we identify three genes whose expression is activated by proviral integration in BXH-2 leukaemias; Hoxa7, Hoxa9, and a Pbx1-related homeobox gene, Meis1. Proviral activation of Hoxa7 or Hoxa9 is strongly correlated with proviral activation of Meis1 implying that Hoxa7 and Hoxa9 cooperate with Meis1 in leukaemia formation. These studies provide the first genetic evidence that Pbx1-related genes cooperate with Hox genes in leukaemia formation and identify a number of new murine myeloid leukaemia genes.
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