Disruption of differentiation in human cancer: AML shows the way

Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 Feb;3(2):89-101. doi: 10.1038/nrc989.


Although much is understood about the ways in which transcription factors regulate various differentiation systems, and one of the hallmarks of many human cancers is a lack of cellular differentiation, relatively few reports have linked these two processes. Recent studies of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), however, have indicated how disruption of transcription-factor function can disrupt normal cellular differentiation and lead to cancer. This model involves lineage-specific transcription factors, which are involved in normal haematopoietic differentiation. These factors are often targeted in AML--either by direct mutation or by interference from translocation proteins. Uncovering these underlying pathways will improve the diagnosis and treatment of AML, and provide a working model for other types of human cancer, including solid tumours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Transcription Factors