Low expression of interferon regulatory factor-1 and identification of novel exons skipping in patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia
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Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is a malignant clonal disorder of the haematopoietic stem cell. Treatment of CML patients with interferon alpha (IFN-alpha) has induced haematological and cytogenetic remission. Interferons transcriptionally activate target genes through the JAK-STAT and interferon regulated factors (IRFs) family pathways. Interferon regulated factor-1 (IRF-1) is a transcriptional activator of genes critical for cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis. The skipping of exons 2 or 2 and 3 of IRF-1 in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myelogenous leukaemia suggests that this factor may have a critical role in leukaemogenesis. The role of IRF-1 in CML is currently unknown. Therefore, mutational analysis of IRF-1 was performed and its expression pattern was also studied in CML patients. We studied IRF-1 in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 21 patients in chronic phase CML. No point mutations were identified at the cDNA level. Surprisingly, fourfold reduction of full-length IRF-1 mRNA expression was established in 17/21 patients compared with normal individuals. Low expression of full-length IRF-1 was observed in conjunction with high levels of aberrantly spliced mRNAs, reported for the first time. In three patients who were also analysed during blastic transformation, further reduction of full-length IRF-1 mRNA was observed. These findings demonstrate that, in CML patients, IRF-1 can produce high levels of aberrant spliced mRNAs with subsequent reduction in the levels of full-length IRF-1 mRNA. This observation is consistent with the notion that exon skipping may constitute another mechanism of tumour suppressor gene inactivation in this disease.