RNA-seq analysis of 2 closely related leukemia clones that differ in their self-renewal capacity Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract The molecular mechanisms regulating self-renewal of leukemia stem cells remain poorly understood. Here we report the generation of 2 closely related leukemias created through the retroviral overexpression of Meis1 and Hoxa9. Despite their apparent common origin, these clonal leukemias exhibit enormous differences in stem cell frequency (from 1 in 1.4, FLA2; to 1 in 347, FLB1), suggesting that one of these leukemias undergoes nearly unlimited self-renewal divisions. Using next-generation RNA-sequencing, we characterized the transcriptomes of these phenotypically similar, but biologically distinct, leukemias, identifying hundreds of differentially expressed genes and a large number of structural differences (eg, alternative splicing and promoter usage). Focusing on ligand-receptor pairs, we observed high expression levels of Sdf1-Cxcr4; Jagged2-Notch2/1; Osm-Gp130; Scf-cKit; and Bmp15-Tgfb1/2. Interestingly, the integrin beta 2-like gene (Itgb2l) is both highly expressed and differentially expressed between our 2 leukemias (∼ 14-fold higher in FLA2 than FLB1). In addition, gene ontology analysis indicated G-protein-coupled receptor had a much higher proportion of differential expression (22%) compared with other classes (∼ 5%), suggesting a potential role regulating subtle changes in cellular behavior. These results provide the first comprehensive transcriptome analysis of a leukemia stem cell and document an unexpected level of transcriptome variation between phenotypically similar leukemic cells.


  • Wilhelm, Brian T
  • Briau, Mathieu
  • Austin, Pamela
  • Faubert, Amélie
  • Boucher, Geneviève
  • Chagnon, Pierre
  • Hope, Kristin
  • Girard, Simon
  • Mayotte, Nadine
  • Landry, Josette-Renee
  • Hébert, Josée
  • Sauvageau, Guy

publication date

  • January 13, 2011

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