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We have used the 1.1 kilobases of the 5' upstream region of the platelet factor four (PF4) gene coupled to the prokaryotic beta-galactosidase gene to generate two lines of transgenic mice that express this construct. Studies of blood, bone marrow, spleen, and thymus reveal that platelets are the only circulating blood cells and megakaryocytes are the only hematopoietic precursor cells that possess the prokaryotic enzyme. The lack of transgene expression in brain, heart, intestine, kidney, liver, lung, and skeletal muscle was established by in situ staining of tissue sections as well as kinetic assay of tissue homogenates. These data suggest that this domain of the PF4 promoter contains most, if not all, of the tissue-specific region of the gene. Unexpectedly, the adrenal gland exhibits approximately 2% of the levels of beta-galactosidase possessed by megakaryocytes and the distribution of the prokaryotic enzyme corresponds to the location of mineralocorticoid-secreting cells. This result implies that either the PF4 gene is transcribed at low levels in specialized adrenal cells or that these specialized endocrine cells possess trans-acting factors similar to those that control the megakaryocyte promoter. The selective high-level expression of transgenes linked to the PF4 promoter should allow us to augment or suppress the in vivo levels of critical components in megakaryocytes and platelets and subsequently ascertain the effects of these modifications.
Laminin is the first extracellular matrix protein expressed in the developing mouse embryo. It is known to influence morphogenesis and affect cell migration and polarization. Several laminin receptors are included in the integrin family of extracellular matrix receptors. Ligand binding by integrin heterodimers results in signal transduction events controlling cell motility. We report that the major laminin receptor on murine embryonic stem (ES) cells is the integrin heterodimer alpha 6 beta 1, an important receptor for laminin in neurons, lymphocytes, macrophages, fibroblasts, platelets and other cell types. However, the cytoplasmic domain of the ES cell alpha 6 (alpha 6 B) differs totally from the reported cytoplasmic domain amino acid sequence of alpha 6 (alpha 6 A). Comparisons of alpha 6 cDNAs from ES cells and other cells suggest that the alpha 6 A and alpha 6 B cytoplasmic domains derive from alternative mRNA splicing. Anti-peptide antibodies to alpha 6 A are unreactive with ES cells, but react with mouse melanoma cells and embryonic fibroblasts. When ES cells are cultured under conditions that permit their differentiation, they become positive for alpha 6 A, concurrent with the morphologic appearance of differentiated cell types. Thus, expression of the alpha 6 B beta 1 laminin receptor may be favored in undifferentiated, totipotent cells, while the expression of alpha 6 A beta 1 receptor occurs in committed lineages. While the functions of integrin alpha chain cytoplasmic domains are not understood, it is possible that they contribute to transferring signals to the cell interior, e.g., by delivering cytoskeleton organizing signals in response to integrin engagement with extracellular matrix ligands. It is therefore reasonable to propose that the cellular responses to laminin may vary, according to what alpha subunit isoform (alpha 6 A or alpha 6 B) is expressed as part of the alpha 6 beta 1 laminin receptor. The switch from alpha 6 B to alpha 6 A, if confirmed in early embryos, could then be of striking potential relevance to the developmental role of laminin.
Nineteen of 71 (26%) cases of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) were found to express CD7, a cell surface marker found early during T lineage differentiation. These myeloid leukemias often expressed other lymphoid markers and frequently had rearranged T-cell receptor beta and immunoglobulin heavy chain genes. We propose that in CD7+ AML, the malignant transformation occurred in a CD7+ progenitor cell. CD7+ myeloid leukemic precursors may be capable of limited differentiation with loss of CD7 during the initial phase of the disease, but this capacity may diminish during the course of treatment such that CD7 expression persists.
To identify selective steps in metastasis, those that eliminate nonmetastatic tumor cells more efficiently than metastatic cells, we have evaluated the sequential dissemination of tumor cells from a mammary fatpad, using both metastatic (4T1 and 66cl4) and nonmetastatic (67NR, 168FARN, and 4TO7) subpopulations of a single mouse mammary tumor. Each of these variant subpopulations is resistant to one or more selective drugs so they could be quantitatively identified by colony formation in selective media. We found that the 2 metastatic cell lines metastasized by different routes and that the nonmetastatic tumor cell lines failed at different points in dissemination. Line 67NR did not leave the primary site; clonogenic tumor cells were not detected in the nodes, blood, or lungs during the experiment (7 weeks). Tumor line 168FARN disseminated from the primary tumor because clonogenic cells were cultured from the draining lymph nodes throughout the experiment. However, dissemination essentially stopped in the node as cells were rarely isolated from blood, lungs, or lives. Whether 168FARN cells failed to reach these tissues or were killed very rapidly after traversing the lymph node is unknown. Line 4TO7 cells disseminated via the blood and were consistently recovered from lungs by day 19 but failed to proliferate. This panel of 5 subpopulations thus identifies different points of selective failure in tumor cell dissemination and should be valuable in the assessment of antimetastatic therapies.
Murine embryonic stem (ES) cells were infected with a retrovirus promoter trap vector, and clones expressing lacZ fusion genes (LacZ+) were isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Of 12 fusion genes tested, 1 was repressed when ES cells were allowed to differentiate in vitro. Two of three lacZ fusion genes tested were passed into the germ line, indicating that FACS does not significantly affect stem cell totipotency. The pattern of lacZ expression observed in vivo was consistent with that seen in vitro. Both fusion genes were expressed in preimplantation blastulas. However, a fusion gene whose expression was unaffected by in vitro differentiation was ubiquitously expressed in day-10 embryos, while the other, which showed regulated expression in vitro, was restricted to cells located along the posterior neural fold, the optic chiasm, and within the fourth ventricle. These results demonstrate the utility of using promoter trap vectors in conjunction with fluorescence sorting to disrupt developmentally regulated genes in mice.
Expression of the alpha 2 beta 1 and alpha IIb beta 3 integrin genes is differentially regulated during megakaryocytic differentiation of pluripotent K562 cells induced with phorbol 12,13-dibutyrate. Upon megakaryocytic differentiation, steady-state alpha 2 mRNA increased markedly from the undetectable level present in the uninduced cells. The level of beta 1 mRNA did not change. Expression of alpha IIb beta 3 is regulated differently. beta 3 mRNA was undetectable in uninduced cells but increased significantly following induction. alpha IIb mRNA was detectable at a low level prior to induction, but at an increased level following differentiation. Altered mRNA stability did not contribute to changes in mRNA levels. Nuclear run-off experiments revealed a 20-fold increase in alpha 2 gene transcription upon megakaryocytic differentiation, but no change in transcription of the beta 1 gene. Transcription of both the alpha IIb and beta 3 genes increased 10- and 5-fold, respectively. Thus, the increase in alpha 2 beta 1 protein which accompanies the megakaryocytic differentiation of K562 cells is a consequence of the increased steady-state level of alpha 2 mRNA due to transcriptional activation of the alpha 2 gene. The long-lived beta 1 mRNA is not altered during differentiation. In contrast, increased alpha IIb beta 3 protein appears due to increased steady-state levels of both alpha IIb and beta 3 mRNAs that result from transcriptional activation of both integrin genes.
Experiments were performed to determine if retroviral-mediated transfer of the human multidrug resistance 1 gene (MDR1) into murine bone marrow cells would confer drug resistance to the cells and whether the MDR1 gene could be used as a dominant selectable marker in vivo. When mice transplanted with bone marrow cells containing a transferred MDR1 gene were treated with the cytotoxic drug taxol, a substantial enrichment for transduced bone marrow cells was observed. This demonstration of positive selection establishes the ability to amplify clones of transduced hematopoietic cells in vivo and suggests possible applications in human therapy.
Two retrovirus promoter trap vectors (U3His and U3Neo) have been used to disrupt genes expressed in totipotent murine embryonal stem (ES) cells. Selection in L-histidinol or G418 produced clones in which the coding sequences for histidinol-dehydrogenase or neomycin-phosphotransferase were fused to sequences in or near the 5' exons of expressed genes, including one in the developmentally regulated REX-1 gene. Five of seven histidinol-resistant clones and three of three G418-resistant clones generated germ-line chimeras. A total of four disrupted genes have been passed to the germ line, of which two resulted in embryonic lethalities when bred to homozygosity. The ability to screen large numbers of recombinant ES cell clones for significant mutations, both in vitro and in vivo, circumvents genetic limitations imposed by the size and long generation time of mice and will facilitate a functional analysis of the mouse genome.