Restoration of C/EBPalpha expression in a BCR-ABL+ cell line induces terminal granulocytic differentiation.J Biol Chem 2003; 278(52):52651-9JB
The transcription factor C/EBPalpha plays a critical role in the process of granulocytic differentiation. Recently, mutations that abrogated transcriptional activation of C/EBPalpha were detected in acute myeloid leukemia patient samples. Moreover, the progression of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) to blast crisis in patients was correlated with down-modulation of C/EBPalpha. The KCL22 cell line, derived from BCR-ABL+ CML in blast crisis, expressed wild-type C/EBPepsilon protein but not a functional C/EBPalpha, -beta, and -gamma. Restoration of C/EBPalpha expression in KCL22 cells triggered a profound proliferative arrest, a block in the G2/M phase of the cell cycle and a gradual increase in apoptosis. Within 3 days of inducing expression of C/EBPalpha, a remarkable neutrophilic differentiation of the KCL22 blast cells occurred as shown by morphologic changes, induction of expression of CD11b, primary, secondary, and tertiary granule proteins, and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor receptor. Using high density oligonucleotide microarrays, the gene expression profile of KCL22 cells stably transfected with C/EBPalpha was compared with that of empty vector, and we identified genes not previously known to be regulated by C/EBPalpha. These included the up-regulation of those genes important for regulation of hematopoietic stem cell homing, granulocytic differentiation, and cell cycle, whereas down-regulation occurred for genes coding for signaling molecules and transcription factors that are implicated in regulation of proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic cells. Our study showed that restoration of C/EBPalpha expression in BCR-ABL+ leukemic cells in blast crisis is sufficient for rapid neutrophil differentiation suggesting a potential therapeutic role for ectopic transfer of C/EBPalpha in acute phase of CML.