Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a malignancy of B cells of unknown etiology. Deletions of the chromosomal region 13q14 are commonly associated with CLL, with monoclonal B cell lymphocytosis (MBL), which occasionally precedes CLL, and with aggressive lymphoma, suggesting that this region contains a tumor-suppressor gene. Here, we demonstrate that deletion in mice of the 13q14-minimal deleted region (MDR), which encodes the DLEU2/miR-15a/16-1 cluster, causes development of indolent B cell-autonomous, clonal lymphoproliferative disorders, recapitulating the spectrum of CLL-associated phenotypes observed in humans. miR-15a/16-1-deletion accelerates the proliferation of both human and mouse B cells by modulating the expression of genes controlling cell-cycle progression. These results define the role of 13q14 deletions in the pathogenesis of CLL.
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