Gene expression profiling of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) allows the discovery of previously unrecognized molecular entities. Here, we identified a specific subgroup of AML, defined by an expression profile resembling that of AMLs with mutations in the myeloid transcription factor CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (C/EBPα), while lacking such mutations. We found that in these leukemias, the CEBPA gene was silenced, which was associated with frequent promoter hypermethylation. The leukemias phenotypically showed aberrant expression of T-cell genes, of which CD7 was most consistent. We identified 2 mechanisms that may contribute to this phenotype. First, absence of Cebpa led to up-regulation of specific T-cell transcripts (ie, Cd7 and Lck) in hematopoietic stem cells isolated from conditional Cebpa knockout mice. Second, the enhanced expression of TRIB2, which we identify here as a direct target of the T-cell commitment factor NOTCH1, suggested aberrantly activated Notch signaling. Putatively activating NOTCH1 mutations were found in several specimens of the newly identified subgroup, while a large set of control AMLs was mutation negative. A gene expression prediction signature allowed the detection of similar cases of leukemia in independent series of AML.

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Journal Blood
Wouters, B.J, Jordà, M.A, Keeshan, K, Louwers, I, Erpelinck, C.A.J, Tielemans, D, … Delwel, H.R. (2007). Distinct gene expression profiles of acute myeloid/T-lymphoid leukemia with silenced CEBPA and mutations in NOTCH1. Blood, 110(10), 3706–3714. doi:10.1182/blood-2007-02-073486