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NrasG12D/+ promotes leukemogenesis by aberrantly regulating hematopoietic stem cell functions.

Wang J, Kong G, Liu Y, Du J, Chang YI, Tey SR, Zhang X, Ranheim EA, Saba-El-Leil MK, Meloche S, Damnernsawad A, Zhang J, Zhang J

McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI;

Oncogenic NRAS mutations are frequently identified in human myeloid leukemias. In mice, expression of endogenous oncogenic Nras (Nras(G12D/+)) in hematopoietic cells leads to expansion of myeloid progenitors, increased long-term reconstitution of bone marrow cells, and a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN). However, acute expression of Nras(G12D/+) in a pure C57BL/6 background does not induce hyperactivated granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor signaling or increased proliferation in myeloid progenitors. It is thus unclear how Nras(G12D/+) signaling promotes leukemogenesis. Here, we show that hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) expressing Nras(G12D/+) serve as MPN-initiating cells. They undergo moderate hyperproliferation with increased self-renewal. The aberrant Nras(G12D/+) HSC function is associated with hyperactivation of ERK1/2 in HSCs. Conversely, downregulation of MEK/ERK by pharmacologic and genetic approaches attenuates the cycling of Nras(G12D/+) HSCs and prevents the expansion of Nras(G12D/+) HSCs and myeloid progenitors. Our data delineate critical mechanisms of oncogenic Nras signaling in HSC function and leukemogenesis.

Blood 2013;121(26):5203-7.

Pubmed ID: 23687087

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