BCL11A expression in acute myeloid leukemia

Leuk Res. 2016 Feb;41:71-5. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2015.12.001. Epub 2015 Dec 7.


Background: BCL11A encodes a C2H2 type zinc-finger protein. During normal haematopoietic cell differentiation BCL11A expression is down-regulated. Data in mice suggest up-regulation of BCL11A is involved in the pathogenesis of myeloid leukaemias. BCL11A expression in persons with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is not systematically studied.

Objective: Interrogate associations between BCL11A expression at diagnosis and clinical and laboratory valuables and outcomes in newly-diagnosed persons with AML.

Methods: We determined BCL11A mRNA levels in bone marrow and blood mononuclear cells in 292 consecutive newly-diagnosed subjects with AML by reverse transcript and real-time polymerase chain reaction. Data were compared to mRNA levels in bone marrow cells of normals.

Results: Subjects with BCL11A transcript levels at diagnosis exceeding the median value of 2.434 (±3.423 SD; 25th-75th inter-quartile range, 1.33-4.29) had higher WBC levels, a greater proportion of bone marrow myeloblasts, were more likely to be FAB M0 subtype, less likely to be FAB M3 subtype, more likely to be in the intermediate cytogenetic risk cohort, less likely to have a complex karyotype and more likely to have DNMT3A(R882) and FLT3-ITD mutations than subjects with transcript levels below the median value. In 89 subjects receiving conventional induction chemotherapy the complete remission rate was 54% (95% confidence interval [CI]; 33, 75%) in the lower BCL11A cohort and 65% (45, 85%; P=0.26) in the higher BCL11A cohort. 3 year survival was 33% (2, 65%) in the lower BCL11A cohort and 15% (0, 39%; P=0.35) in the high BCL11A cohort.

Conclusion: BCL11A transcript levels at diagnosis was significantly associated with several clinical and laboratory variables. There were also non-significant associations with complete remission rate and survival. These data suggest a possible role for BCL11A expression in AML biology.

Keywords: Acute myeloid leukemia; BCL11A expression; Leukemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / mortality
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Young Adult


  • BCL11A protein, human
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Repressor Proteins