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Human pediatric B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias can be classified as B-1 or B-2-like based on a minimal transcriptional signature.

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The finding that transformed mouse B-1 and B-2 progenitors give rise to B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias (B-ALLs) with varied aggressiveness suggests that B-cell lineage might also be a factor in the initiation and progression of pediatric B-ALLs in humans. If this is the case, we hypothesized that human pediatric B-ALLs would share gene expression patterns with mouse B-1 or B-2 progenitors. We tested this premise by deriving a distinct 30-gene B-1 and B-2 progenitor signature that was applied to a microarray data set of human pediatric ALLs. Cluster analysis revealed that CRLF2, E2A-PBX1, ERG, and ETV6-RUNX1 leukemias were B-1-like, whereas BCR-ABL1, hyperdiploid, and MLL leukemias were B-2-like. Examination of the 30-gene signature in two independent data sets of pediatric ALLs supported this result. Our data suggest that common genetic subtypes of human ALL have their origin in the B-1 or B-2 lineage.

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