Homeobox gene expression plus autocrine growth factor production elicits myeloid leukemia

A. Perkins, K. Kongsuwan, J. Visvader, J. M. Adams, S. Cory

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140 Citations (Scopus)


In the murine myelomonocytic leukemia WEHI-3B, proviral insertions have induced expression of the Hox-2.4 homeobox gene and the gene for the myeloid growth factor interleukin 3 (IL-3). To assess their potential oncogenic role, normal bone marrow cells were infected with retroviruses bearing the genes for IL-3 or IL-3 plus Hox-2.4. Unlike the IL-3 virus, the IL-3/Hox-2.4 virus was highly leukemogenic. Infected cells expressing both genes exhibited retarded differentiation in vitro, generated myelomonocytic cell lines, and provoked a rapid, transplantable myeloid leukemia in vivo. The oncogenic action of Hox-2.4 appears to derive from its ability to impede the IL-3-driven terminal differentiation of myeloid cells. The results suggest that homeobox genes can regulate key differentiation processes such as self-renewal capacity and that their inappropriate expression can be oncogenic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8398-8402
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • hematopoietic differentiation
  • Hox-2.4
  • interleukin 3 growth factor
  • leukemogenesis

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