Activating mutations of NOTCH1 and deletion of the INK4A-ARF (CDKN2A) tumor suppressor locus are two of the most frequent genetic alterations in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). In a murine model of T-ALL induced by the intracellular domain of Notch1 (ICN1), the genetic interaction between ICN1 signaling and Arf inactivation is developmentally stage-specific, with a more pronounced requirement for Arf deletion in thymocytes than in bone marrow precursors targeted for transformation. In the thymus, the target cell for transformation is a CD4 and CD8 double-negative progenitor that undergoes T cell receptor beta-chain rearrangement, a cell type in which polycomb silencing of Ink4a-Arf is normally requisite. Epigenetic remodeling during tumor progression licenses Arf as a tumor suppressor and in turn provides the selective pressure for Ink4a-Arf deletion in clonal T-ALLs that emerge.
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