bcr-abl, the hallmark of chronic myeloid leukaemia in man, induces multiple haemopoietic neoplasms in mice

A. G. Elefanty, I. K. Hariharan, S. Cory

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The chromosome translocation forming the hybrid bcr-abl gene is thought to be the initiating event in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and some cases of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. To assess the impact of bcr-abl upon haemopoiesis, lethally irradiated mice were reconstituted with bone marrow cells enriched for cycling stem cells and infected with a bcr-abl bearing retrovirus. The mice developed several fatal diseases with abnormal accumulations of macrophage, erythroid, mast and lymphoid cells, and marked strain differences in disease distribution and kinetics. Some mice exhibited more than one neoplastic cell type and, in some instances, these were clonally related, indicating that a progenitor or stem cell had been transformed. While classical CML was not observed, the macrophage tumours were accompanied by a mild CML-like syndrome, probably due to myeloid growth factor production by tumour cells. The erythroid and mast cell diseases were rarely transplantable, in contrast to the macrophage tumours and lymphomas, but all disease types displayed limited clonality. These results establish that bcr-abl confers a proliferative advantage on diverse haemopoietic cells but complete transformation probably involves additional genetic changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1069-1078
Number of pages10
JournalThe EMBO Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • bcr-abl gene
  • bone marrow
  • chronic myeloid leukaemia
  • haemopoietic neoplasia
  • oncogene
  • retroviral vector

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