Insertional mutagenesis is a powerful means of identifying cancer drivers in animal models. We used the Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon/transposase system to identify activated oncogenes in hematologic cancers in wild-type mice and mice that express a stabilized cyclin E protein (termed cyclin ET74AT393A). Cyclin E governs cell division and is misregulated in human cancers. Cyclin ET74AT393A mice develop ineffective erythropoiesis that resembles early-stage human myelodysplastic syndrome, and we sought to identify oncogenes that might cooperate with cyclin E hyperactivity in leukemogenesis. SB activation in hematopoietic precursors caused T-cell leukemia/lymphomas (T-ALL) and pure red blood cell erythroleukemias (EL). Analysis of >12,000 SB integration sites revealed markedly different oncogene activations in EL and T-ALL: Notch1 and Ikaros were most common in T-ALL, whereas ETS transcription factors (Erg and Ets1) were targeted in most ELs. Cyclin E status did not impact leukemogenesis or oncogene activations. Whereas most SB insertions were lost during culture of EL cell lines, Erg insertions were retained, indicating Erg's key role in these neoplasms. Surprisingly, cyclin ET74AT393A conferred growth factor independence and altered Erg-dependent differentiation in EL cell lines. These studies provide new molecular insights into erythroid leukemia and suggest potential therapeutic targets for human leukemia.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare no competing interests.
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