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Fetal liver Mll-AF4+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells respond directly to poly(I:C), but not to a single maternal immune activation

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-59
JournalExperimental Hematology
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2019


T(4;11) MLL-AF4 acute leukemia is one of the most aggressive malignancies in the infant and pediatric population. Epidemiological and functional studies have highlighted the influence of an overstimulation of the immune system on leukemia development. This study aimed at assessing if the cell-of-origin of t(4;11) MLL-AF4 acute leukemia is sensitive to a viral or bacterial mimic and if maternal immune activation can lead to a full-blown leukemia. To answer this, we used the Mll-AF4 preleukemia mouse model that initiates the expression of Mll-AF4 in the first definitive hematopoietic cells formed during embryonic development. We observed an increase in proliferation upon hematopoietic differentiation of fetal liver Mll-AF4+ LSK exposed to the immune stimulants poly(I:C) or LPS/lipopolysaccharide. This was accompanied by an increased expression of a subset of MLL-AF4 signature genes and members of the Toll-like receptor signaling pathways in fetal liver Mll-AF4+ LSK exposed to poly(I:C), suggesting that the cell-of-origin responds to inflammatory stimuli. Maternal immune activation using a single dose of poly(I:C) did not lead to the development of leukemia in Mll-AF4+ and control offspring. Instead, aging Mll-AF4+ mice showed an increased proportion of T-lymphoid cells in the spleen, lost their B-lymphoid bias and showed decreased frequencies of hematopoietic stem and multipotent progenitor cells. Overall, this study suggests that the fetal liver Mll-AF4+ LSK are sensitive to a direct exposure to inflammatory stimuli, especially poly(I:C); however, maternal immune activation induced by a single exposure to poly(I:C) is not sufficient to initiate MLL-AF4 leukemogenesis.

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