January 25, 2021

An interacting factor in leukemia

A blood stem cell protein plays a role in the initiation and progression of leukemia, Vanderbilt researchers have found.

TG-Interacting Factor 1 (TGIF1) is a protein that regulates self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells, which give rise to other blood cells, and which affects proliferation and differentiation of myeloid cells. Studies suggest that altered TGIF1 function may alter outcomes for patients with acute myeloid leukemia, cancer of the blood and bone marrow.  

To determine the impact of TGIF1 on the initiation and progression of leukemia, Ling Yan PhD, Rizwan Hamid, MD, PhD, and colleagues induced acute or chronic myeloid leukemia in mice expressing the TGIF1 gene and those that lacked it. 

They found that loss of TGIF1 decreased survival, increased the frequency of leukemia-initiating cells, and resulted in earlier relapse and more aggressive disease progression.  

Their findings, reported in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, support data showing that enforced expression of TGIF1 decreases human leukemia cell proliferation and increases survival in a subtype of AML (MLL-rearranged AML), which is typically aggressive and has a poor prognosis.

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants HL089903 and CA068485, and an American Cancer Society Scholar Award.