Chromosomal translocation t(15;17) in human acute promyelocytic leukemia fuses RARα with a novel putative transcription factor, PML
A unique mRNA produced in leukemic cells from a t(15;17) acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) patient encodes a fusion protein between the retinoic acid receptor a (RARa) and a myeloid gene product called PML. PML contains a cysteine-rich region present in a new family of apparent DNA-binding proteins that includes a regulator of the interleukin-2 receptor gene (Rpt-1) and the recombination-activating gene product (RAG-l). Accordingly, PML may represent a novel transcription factor or recombinase. The aberrant PML-RAR fusion product, while typically retinoic acid responsive, displays both cell type- and promoter-specific differences from the wild-type RARa. Because patients with APL can be Induced into remission with high dose RA therapy, we propose that the nonliganded PML-RAR protein is a new class of dominant negative oncogene product. Treatment with RA would not only relieve this inhibition, but the activated PML-RAR protein may actually promote myelocyte differentiation.
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