The role of inflammation in the early genesis of certain malignancies has recently been appreciated. Interleukin (IL)-15, a proinflammatory cytokine and growth factor, is required for lymphocyte homeostasis. Intriguingly, the expression of IL-15 protein is tightly controlled by multiple posttranscriptional mechanisms, suggesting that inappropriate expression of IL-15 may be detrimental to the host. We recently engineered a transgenic mouse in which the normal posttranscriptional control of IL-15 is eliminated, thereby overexpressing the murine IL-15 protein. IL-15 transgenic mice have early expansions in NK and CD8+ T lymphocytes and later develop fatal lymphocytic leukemia with a T-NK phenotype. This article recapitulates the phenotype of these IL-15 transgenic mice and discusses the utility of this model as a tool to further our understanding of leukemogenesis.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.