Insertional mutagenesis identifies genes that promote the immortalization of primary bone marrow progenitor cells

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163 Scopus citations


Retroviruses can induce hematopoietic disease via insertional mutagenesis of cancer genes and provide valuable molecular tags for cancer gene discovery. Here we show that insertional mutagenesis can also identify genes that promote the immortalization of hematopoietic cells, which normally have only limited self-renewal. Transduction of mouse bone marrow cells with replication- incompetent murine stem cell virus (MSCV) expressing only neo, followed by serial passage in liquid culture containing stem cell factor (SCF) and interleukin-3 (IL-3), produced immortalized immature myeloid cell lines with neutrophil and macrophage differentiation potential in about 50% of the infected cultures. More than half of the lines have MSCV insertions at Evi1 or Prdm16. These loci encode transcription factor homologs and are validated human myeloid leukemia genes. Integrations are located in intron 1 or 2, where they promote expression of truncated proteins lacking the PRDI-BF1-RIZ1 homologous (PR) domain, similar to what is observed in human leukemias with EVI1 or PRDM16 mutations. Evi1 overexpression alone appears sufficient to immortalize immature myeloid cells and does not seem to require any other cooperating mutations. Genes identified by insertional mutagenesis by their nature could also be involved in immortalization of leukemic stem cells, and thus represent attractive drug targets for treating cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3932-3939
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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