ETV6-RUNX1 is associated with childhood acute B-lymphoblastic leukemia (cALL) functioning as a first-hit mutation that initiates a clinically silent pre-leukemia in utero. Because lineage commitment hierarchies differ between embryo and adult, and the impact of oncogenes is cell-context dependent, we hypothesized that the childhood affiliation of ETV6-RUNX1 cALL reflects its origins in a progenitor unique to embryonic life. We characterize the first emerging B cells in first-trimester human embryos, identifying a developmentally restricted CD19-IL-7R+ progenitor compartment, which transitions from a myeloid to lymphoid program during ontogeny. This developmental series is recapitulated in differentiating human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), thereby providing a model for the initiation of cALL. Genome-engineered hPSCs expressing ETV6-RUNX1 from the endogenous ETV6 locus show expansion of the CD19-IL-7R+ compartment, show a partial block in B lineage commitment, and produce proB cells with aberrant myeloid gene expression signatures and potential: features (collectively) consistent with a pre-leukemic state.
Keywords: B cell; CRISPR/Cas9; ETV6-RUNX1; acute lymphoblastic leukemia; genome engineering; human fetal lymphopoiesis; human pluripotent stem cells; in vitro B cell differentiation.
Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.