Carolina Abramovich

Terry Fox Laboratory, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Publications (12)82.16 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: PMX1 is a member of a non-clustered homeobox gene family, not normally expressed in hematopoietic cells, and first identified for its role in enhancing the binding of the serum response factor (SRF) to the serum responsive element (SRE). PMX1 has never been linked to leukemia on its own, raising the possibility of unique mechanisms underlying the oncogenicity of NUP98-PMX1. To elucidate the leukemogenic potential of NUP98-PMX1, we compared the effects of PMX1 and NUP98-PMX1 and, through strategic mutations, the involvement of the SRE in NUP98-PMX1-mediated leukemia. NUP98-PMX1, but not PMX1, had potent ability to impair differentiation, promote proliferation of myeloid progenitors, induce lethal myeloproliferative disease and to activate a number of genes previously linked to leukemic stem cells. Similar to NUP98-HOX fusions, the transforming potential of NUP98-PMX1 required the NUP98 portion and DNA-binding capability of the PMX1 homeodomain and collaborated with Meis1 to induce more rapid onset myeloproliferative-like myeloid leukemia. The transforming activity of NUP98-PMX1 was independent of its ability to interact with SRF. These findings provide novel evidence of the contributory role of the NUP98 sequence in conferring leukemogenic properties on a partner gene and point to common leukemogenic pathways for NUP98-PMX1 and NUP98-clustered HOX fusions.
    Oncogene 08/2008; 27(46):6056-67. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In leukemogenesis, several genetic changes conferring a proliferative and/or survival advantage to hematopoietic progenitor cells in addition to a block in differentiation are required. Here, we demonstrate that overexpression of the wild-type (wt) Flt3 receptor tyrosine kinase collaborates with NUP98-HOX fusions (NUP98-HOXA10 and NUP98-HOXD13) to induce aggressive acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We used a mouse transplantation model to show their synergism in cotransduced bone marrow cells as well as in a cellular model of leukemic progression. Furthermore, our data support the finding that Meis1 overexpression leads to marked elevation in Flt3 transcription and extend it to the context of NUP98-HOX-induced leukemia. Together, these results support a multistep model where the synergism between NUP98-HOX and wt-Flt3 is the result of the ability of Flt3 to increase proliferation of myeloid progenitors blocked in differentiation by NUP98-HOX fusions and reveal a direct role for wt-Flt3 in the pathobiology of AML. Given the similarities in the leukemogenic role of native HOX and NUP98-fused HOX genes, our results underscore the clinical significance of the recurrent co-overexpression of wt-FLT3 and HOX in human leukemia and suggest that specific FLT3 inhibitors could be useful in treatment of HOX-induced AML or acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
    Blood 09/2006; 108(3):1030-6. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hox genes are clearly implicated in leukemia; however, neither the specificity of the leukemogenic potential among Hox genes of different paralog groups nor the role of the homeodomain is clear. We tested the leukemogenic potential of various NUP98-Hox fusion genes alone and with MEIS1. All genes tested had a significant overlapping effect in bone marrow cells in vitro. However, not all formed strong leukemogenic NUP98 fusion genes; but together with overexpression of MEIS1, all induced myeloid leukemia. This phenomenon was also seen with NUP98 fusions containing only the homeodomain of the corresponding Hox protein. We then exploited the strong transforming potential of NUP98-HOXD13 and NUP98-HOXA10 to establish preleukemic myeloid lines composed of early myeloid progenitors with extensive in vitro self-renewal capacity, short-term myeloid repopulating activity, and low propensity for spontaneous leukemic conversion. We also showed that MEIS1 can efficiently induce their conversion to leukemic stem cells, thus providing a novel model for the study of leukemic progression. In contrast to the leukemogenic effect of most of the Hox genes tested, HOXB4 has the ability to increase the self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells without disrupting normal differentiation. On the basis of the discovery that the leukemogenic gene HOXA9 can also expand hematopoietic stem cells, we compared the ability of NUP98-Hox fusions to that of HOXB4 to trigger HSC expansion in vitro. Our preliminary results indicate that the expanding potential of HOXB4 is retained and even augmented by fusion to NUP98. Moreover, even greater expansion may be possible using Abd-B-like Hox fusions genes.
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 07/2005; 1044:109-16. · 4.38 Impact Factor
  • Carolina Abramovich, R Keith Humphries
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    ABSTRACT: Herein we focus on recent studies of knock out mice that demonstrate a function for the clustered homeobox (Hox) genes in normal hematopoiesis, on papers that point to their general involvement in human leukemia, and discuss the advances in the understanding of the mechanisms underlying their role in these processes. Expression analysis and gain- or loss- of function studies have shown that Hox play an important role in the regulation of early stages of hematopoiesis, including the self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs)/early progenitors. In the area of leukemia, numerous models of murine leukemia have demonstrated a role for Hox in the pathobiology of the disease. Moreover, the identification of multiple Hox genes as partners of chromosomal translocations and the observed global deregulation of Hox genes and cofactors demonstrated by gene profiling of cells from leukemic patients, have unequivocally shown a major function for Hox genes and cofactors in a wide spectrum of human leukemia. The identification of Hox genes as HSC regulators has been exploited to develop strategies to efficiently expand HSCs ex vivo, a key step to the success of therapies based on HSC transplantation and the understanding of mechanisms underlying HSC regulation. As leukemia is the result of deregulation of normal HSC development, the elucidation of the role of Hox in the pathobiology of the disease is helping to understand how HSCs self-renew and differentiate, and moreover, should facilitate the development of strategies for the management of leukemia.
    Current Opinion in Hematology 06/2005; 12(3):210-6. · 4.11 Impact Factor
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    N Pineault, C Abramovich, R K Humphries
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    ABSTRACT: Hox genes have been identified in chromosomal translocations involving the nucleoporin gene NUP98. Though the resulting chimeric proteins directly participate in the development of leukemia, the long latency and monoclonal nature of the disease support the requirement for secondary mutation(s), such as those leading to overexpression of Meis1. Models to identify such events and to study leukemic progression are rare and labor intensive. Herein, we took advantage of the strong transforming potential of NUP98-HOXD13 or NUP98-HOXA10 to establish preleukemic myeloid lines from bone marrow cells that faithfully replicate the first step of Hox-induced leukemogenesis. These lines contain early granulomonocytic progenitors with extensive in vitro self-renewal capacity, short-term myeloid repopulating activity and low propensity for spontaneous leukemic conversion. We exploit such lines to show that Meis1 efficiently induces their leukemic progression and demonstrate a high frequency of preleukemic cells in the cultures. Furthermore, we document that the leukemogenic potential of Meis1 is independent of its direct binding to DNA and likely reflects its ability to increase the repopulating capacity of the preleukemic cells by increasing their self-renewal/proliferative capacity. The availability of lines with repopulating potential and capacity for leukemic conversion should open new avenues for understanding progression of Hox-mediated acute myeloid leukemia.
    Leukemia 05/2005; 19(4):636-43. · 10.16 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: NUP98-Hox fusion genes are newly identified oncogenes isolated in myeloid leukemias. Intriguingly, only Abd-B Hox genes have been reported as fusion partners, indicating that they may have unique overlapping leukemogenic properties. To address this hypothesis, we engineered novel NUP98 fusions with Hox genes not previously identified as fusion partners: the Abd-B-like gene HOXA10 and two Antennepedia-like genes, HOXB3 and HOXB4. Notably, NUP98-HOXA10 and NUP98-HOXB3 but not NUP98-HOXB4 induced leukemia in a murine transplant model, which is consistent with the reported leukemogenic potential ability of HOXA10 and HOXB3 but not HOXB4. Thus, the ability of Hox genes to induce leukemia as NUP98 fusion partners, although apparently redundant for Abd-B-like activity, is not restricted to this group, but rather is determined by the intrinsic leukemogenic potential of the Hox partner. We also show that the potent leukemogenic activity of Abd-B-like Hox genes is correlated with their strong ability to block hematopoietic differentiation. Conversely, coexpression of the Hox cofactor Meis1 alleviated the requirement of a strong intrinsic Hox-transforming potential to induce leukemia. Our results support a model in which many if not all Hox genes can be leukemogenic and point to striking functional overlap not previously appreciated, presumably reflecting common regulated pathways.
    Molecular and Cellular Biology 04/2004; 24(5):1907-17. · 5.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: HOX genes, notably members of the HOXA cluster, and HOX cofactors have increasingly been linked to human leukemia. Intriguingly, HOXD13, a member of the HOXD cluster not normally expressed in hematopoietic cells, was recently identified as a partner of NUP98 in a t(2;11) translocation associated with t-AML/MDS. We have now tested directly the leukemogenic potential of the NUP98-HOXD13 t(2; 11) fusion gene in the murine hematopoietic model. NUP98-HOXD13 strongly promoted growth and impaired differentiation of early hematopoietic progenitor cells in vitro; this effect was dependent on the NUP98 portion and an intact HOXD13 homeodomain. Expression of the NUP98-HOXD13 fusion gene in vivo resulted in a partial impairment of lymphopoiesis but did not induce evident hematologic disease until late after transplantation (more than 5 months), when some mice developed a myeloproliferative-like disease. In contrast, mice transplanted with bone marrow (BM) cells cotransduced with NUP98-HOXD13 and the HOX cofactor Meis1 rapidly developed lethal and transplantable acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with a median disease onset of 75 days. In summary, this study demonstrates that NUP98-HOXD13 can be directly implicated in the molecular process leading to leukemic transformation, and it supports a model in which the transforming properties of NUP98-HOXD13 are mediated through HOX-dependent pathways.
    Blood 07/2003; 101(11):4529-38. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have previously reported the cloning of the Hematopoietic Pbx Interacting Protein (HPIP), a novel protein discovered through its interaction with Pbx1. HPIP is expressed in early hematopoietic precursors, can bind all members of the Pbx family and can inhibit the transcriptional activation of the oncogene E2A-Pbx. To further understand the function of HPIP, we have analysed its cellular localization and characterized its functional localization domains. Using fluorescence microscopy to follow the distribution of different HPIP sequences fused to GFP, we found that HPIP localizes predominantly to cytoskeletal fibers but has the potential ability to shuttle between the nucleus and the cytosol. The cytoskeletal localization of HPIP is mediated by an N-terminal leucine rich region (between aa 190-218) and can be disrupted by the microtubule destabilizing drug vincristine. The HPIP C-terminal domain (aa 443-731) bears a nuclear export activity that is blocked by the CRM1 inhibitor Leptomycin B. In addition, we found two basic amino acid regions located between aa 485-505 and aa 695-720 that contain nuclear import activities attenuated by nuclear export. These observations support a model in which the constitutive attachment of HPIP to the cytoskeleton could be modified by changes in functional domains implicated in nuclear export, import and cytoskeleton binding sequences, allowing the molecule to shuttle between the nucleus and the cytosol.
    Oncogene 11/2002; 21(44):6766-71. · 8.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Identification of the molecular mechanisms that can promote human hematopoietic stem cell amplification is a major goal in experimental and clinical hematology. Recent data indicate that a variety of regulatory molecules active in early development may also play a role in the maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells with repopulating activity. One important class of early developmental genes determining hematopoietic development are homeobox transcription factors. Here, we report that retrovirally mediated expression of the homeobox gene HOXB4 rapidly triggers an increase in the number of human hematopoietic cord blood cells with stem cell and progenitor cell properties detected both by in vitro and in vivo assays. This growth enhancement extended across primitive myeloid-erythroid and B-lymphoid progenitors but did not lead to alterations in the balance of lymphomyeloid reconstitution in vivo, suggesting that HOXB4 does not affect control of end-cell output. These findings reveal HOXB4 as a novel, positive regulator of the primitive growth activity of human hematopoietic progenitor cells and underline the relevance of early developmental factors for stem cell fate decisions.
    Blood 09/2002; 100(3):862-8. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Retroviral transduction of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) offers an attractive strategy for treating malignancies that home to the marrow. This approach should therefore be of interest for evaluating the therapeutic activity of anti-angiogenic agents on hematopoietic malignancies whose growth has been associated with enhanced angiogenesis. A variety of studies have indicated endostatin to be a potent anti-angiogenic agent both in vitro and in vivo, and a human malignancy that might be sensitive to endostatin is human B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). The demonstrated ability of human B-ALL cells to engraft the marrow of immunodeficient mice suggested the potential of this system for testing an endostatin delivery strategy using co-transplanted non-obese diabetic-scid/scid (NOD/SCID) HSCs engineered to express endostatin. Here we show that, in spite of their mutant scid gene, NOD/SCID HSCs can be transduced with an endostatin-encoding retrovirus at efficiencies that result in a several-fold increase in endostatin serum levels in transplanted recipients. However, this did not alter the regrowth of co-transplanted human B-ALL blasts. These findings validate this gene transfer approach for investigating effects of novel therapeutics on primary human malignant cells that engraft NOD/SCID mice and question the utility of native endostatin for controlling human B-ALL in vivo.
    Molecular Therapy 05/2002; 5(4):352-9. · 7.04 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PBX1 is a homeodomain protein that functions in complexes with other homeodomain-containing proteins to regulate gene expression during developmental and/or differentiation processes. A yeast two-hybrid screen of a fetal liver-hematopoietic cDNA library using PBX1a as bait led to the discovery of a novel non-homeodomain-containing protein that interacts with PBX1 as well as PBX2 and PBX3. RNA analysis revealed it to be expressed in CD34(+) hematopoietic cell populations enriched in primitive progenitors, as is PBX1; search of the expressed sequence tag data base indicated that it is also expressed in other early embryonic as well as adult tissues. The full-length cDNA encodes a 731-amino acid protein that has no significant homology to known proteins. This protein that we have termed hematopoietic PBX-interacting protein (HPIP) is mainly localized in the cytosol and in small amounts in the nucleus. The region of PBX that interacts with HPIP includes both the homeodomain and immediate N-terminal flanking sequences. Strikingly, electrophoretic mobility shift assays revealed that HPIP inhibits the ability of PBX-HOX heterodimers to bind to target sequences. Moreover, HPIP strongly inhibits the transactivation activity of E2A-PBX. Together these findings suggest that HPIP is a new regulator of PBX function.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2000; 275(34):26172-7. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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Publication Stats

492 Citations
82.16 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2003–2005
    • Terry Fox Laboratory
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2002–2004
    • University of British Columbia - Vancouver
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Department of Medical Genetics
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada