Gene expression profiling of CD34+ cells identifies a molecular signature of chronic myeloid leukemia blast crisis.
C. Zheng, L. Li, M. Haak, B. Brors, O. Frank, M. Giehl, A. Fabarius, M. Schatz, A. Weisser, C. Lorentz, N. Gretz, R. Hehlmann, A. Hochhaus, and W. Seifarth.
Leukemia 20 (6): 1028--1034 (June 2006)

Despite recent success in the treatment of early-stage disease, blastic phase (BP) of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) that is characterized by rapid expansion of therapy-refractory and differentiation-arrested blasts, remains a therapeutic challenge. The development of resistance upon continuous administration of imatinib mesylate is associated with poor prognosis pointing to the need for alternative therapeutic strategies and a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying disease progression. To identify transcriptional signatures that may explain pathological characteristics and aggressive behavior of BP blasts, we performed comparative gene expression profiling on CD34+ Ph+ cells purified from patients with untreated newly diagnosed chronic phase CML (CP, n=11) and from patients in BP (n=9) using Affymetrix oligonucleotide arrays. Supervised microarray data analysis revealed 114 differentially expressed genes (P<10(-4)), 34 genes displaying more than two-fold transcriptional changes when comparing CP and BP groups. While 24 of these genes were downregulated, 10 genes, especially suppressor of cytokine signalling 2 (SOCS2), CAMPATH-1 antigen (CD52), and four human leukocyte antigen-related genes were strongly overexpressed in BP. Expression of selected genes was validated by real-time-polymerase chain reaction and flow cytometry. Our data suggest the existence of a common gene expression profile of CML-BP and provide new insight into the molecular phenotype of blasts associated with disease progression and high malignancy.
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