NUP98-HOXA9 [t(7;11) (p15;p15)] is associated with inferior prognosis in de novo and treatment-related acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and contributes to blast crisis in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). We have engineered an inducible transgenic zebrafish harbouring human NUP98-HOXA9 under the zebrafish spi1(pu.1) promoter. NUP98-HOXA9 perturbed zebrafish embryonic haematopoiesis, with upregulated spi1 expression at the expense of gata1a. Markers associated with more differentiated myeloid cells, lcp1, lyz, and mpx were also elevated, but to a lesser extent than spi1, suggesting differentiation of early myeloid progenitors may be impaired by NUP98-HOXA9. Following irradiation, NUP98-HOXA9-expressing embryos showed increased numbers of cells in G2-M transition compared to controls and absence of a normal apoptotic response, which may result from an upregulation of bcl2. These data suggest NUP98-HOXA9-induced oncogenesis may result from a combination of defects in haematopoiesis and an aberrant response to DNA damage. Importantly, 23% of adult NUP98-HOXA9-transgenic fish developed a myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) at 19-23 months of age. In summary, we have identified an embryonic haematopoietic phenotype in a transgenic zebrafish line that subsequently develops MPN. This tool provides a unique opportunity for high-throughput in vivo chemical modifier screens to identify novel therapeutic agents in high risk AML.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.