Molecular genetics of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia


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Jan Cools

University of Leuven, Belgium

Abstract

T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive T cell malignancy that is most common in children and adolescents. Our current understanding of the molecular genetics of T-ALL indicates that leukemic transformation of thymocytes is caused by the cooperation of mutations that affect proliferation, survival, cell cycle, differentiation and self renewal. Molecular analysis has identified a large number of T-ALL specific oncogenes, but the genetic defects that are implicated in the aberrant proliferation and survival of the leukemic cells remain largely unknown. We have used genome-wide genetic screens and functional screens (RNA interference screens) to identify novel mutations implicated in the proliferation and survival of T-ALL cells. Better insights into these specific oncogenic events may lead to the development of novel therapeutic avenues for the treatment of T-ALL.