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Convergent genetic aberrations in murine and human T lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemias


The lack of predictive preclinical models is a fundamental barrier to translating knowledge about the molecular pathogenesis of cancer into improved therapies. Insertional mutagenesis (IM) in mice is a robust strategy for generating malignancies that recapitulate the extensive inter- and intra-tumoral genetic heterogeneity found in advanced human cancers. While the central role of "driver" viral insertions in IM models that aberrantly increase the expression of proto-oncogenes or disrupt tumor suppressors has been appreciated for many years, the contributions of cooperating somatic mutations and large chromosomal alterations to tumorigenesis are largely unknown. Integrated genomic studies of T lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemias (T-ALLs) generated by IM in wild-type (WT) and Kras mutant mice reveal frequent point mutations and other recurrent non-insertional genetic alterations that also occur in human T-ALL. These somatic mutations are sensitive and specific markers for defining clonal dynamics and identifying candidate resistance mechanisms in leukemias that relapse after an initial therapeutic response. Primary cancers initiated by IM and resistant clones that emerge during in vivo treatment close key gaps in existing preclinical models, and are robust platforms for investigating the efficacy of new therapies and for elucidating how drug exposure shapes tumor evolution and patterns of resistance.

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