Prof Terence Rabbitts FRS FMedSci

Research Area: Cell and Molecular Biology
Technology Exchange: Crystallography, Drug discovery, Protein interaction and Transcript profiling
Scientific Themes: Cancer and Haematology
Keywords: Cancer, Leukaemia, Antibodies, Chromosomal translocation and Molecular therapeutics
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Our aims are to utilise molecular biology to establish new technologies to study and understand cancer. We are trying to define how chromosomal translocation genes affect proliferation and differentiation from cancer initiating cells (where translocations occur) to overt cancer and in epithelial cancers, to invasive disease. This work amalgamates technologies for creating in vivo models of chromosomal translocations that mark the cancer initiating cells with fluorescent protein expression and transcriptome analysis (concentrating on the surfaceome and transcription factor expression patterns) using deep sequencing RNA-seq to discover new potential therapy targets.

The second, allied aim of our work, involves establishing technologies to target protein function inside cells particularly protein-protein interactions, using antibody fragments as drug surrogates for functional ablation of target proteins (our intracellular immunotherapy programme). We are isolating small molecules and peptides that mirror the inhibitory properties of the antibody fragments and our goals are to develop laboratory reagents to study cancer development and drug-like molecules as leads for therapeutic application.  Allied to these approaches, we are examining cell surface protein expression in primary tumours and metastatic disease to define cell interactions that potentiate cancer and identify molecules at the cell surface that could be used in therapy, such as conventional antibody-mediated cancer treatment.

Name Department Institution Country
Prof Sir Walter Bodmer FRS Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine Oxford University, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Robin Cleveland IBME University of Oxford United Kingdom
Dr Narcis Fernandez-Fuentes Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences Aberystwyth University United Kingdom
Prof Andrew Hamilton FRS University of New York United States
Professor E. Yvonne Jones FRS FMedSci Structural Biology Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine United Kingdom
Prof Graham Ogg Investigative Medicine Division Oxford University, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine United Kingdom
Prof Simon E.V. Phillips Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Research Complex at Harwell United Kingdom
Dr Stephen Carr RCaH United Kingdom
Dr Angela Russell Chemistry University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Alison Simmons Experimental Medicine Division Oxford University, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine United Kingdom
Professor David Stuart FRS Structural Biology Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine United Kingdom
Guillard S, Kolasinska-Zwierz P, Debreczeni J, Breed J, Zhang J, Bery N, Marwood R, Tart J, Overman R, Stocki P et al. 2017. Structural and functional characterization of a DARPin which inhibits Ras nucleotide exchange. Nat Commun, 8 pp. 16111. | Show Abstract | Read more

Ras mutations are the oncogenic drivers of many human cancers and yet there are still no approved Ras-targeted cancer therapies. Inhibition of Ras nucleotide exchange is a promising new approach but better understanding of this mechanism of action is needed. Here we describe an antibody mimetic, DARPin K27, which inhibits nucleotide exchange of Ras. K27 binds preferentially to the inactive Ras GDP form with a Kd of 4 nM and structural studies support its selectivity for inactive Ras. Intracellular expression of K27 significantly reduces the amount of active Ras, inhibits downstream signalling, in particular the levels of phosphorylated ERK, and slows the growth in soft agar of HCT116 cells. K27 is a potent, non-covalent inhibitor of nucleotide exchange, showing consistent effects across different isoforms of Ras, including wild-type and oncogenic mutant forms.

Bao L, Al-Assar O, Drynan LF, Arends MJ, Tyers P, Barker RA, Rabbitts TH. 2017. A non-cell autonomous mouse model of CNS haemangioblastoma mediated by mutant KRAS. Sci Rep, 7 pp. 44899. | Show Abstract | Read more

Haemangioblastoma is a rare malignancy of the CNS where vascular proliferation causes lesions due to endothelial propagation. We found that conditionally expressing mutant Kras, using Rag1-Cre, gave rise to CNS haemangioblastoma in the cortex and cerebellum in mice that present with highly vascular tumours with stromal cells similar to human haemangioblastomas. The aberrant haemangioblastoma endothelial cells do not express mutant Kras but rather the mutant oncogene is expressed in CNS interstitial cells, including neuronal cells and progeny. This demonstrates a non-cell autonomous origin of this disease that is unexpectedly induced via Rag1-Cre expression in CNS interstitial cells. This is the first time that mutant RAS has been shown to stimulate non-cell autonomous proliferation in malignancy and suggests that mutant RAS can control endothelial cell proliferation in neo-vascularisation when expressed in certain cells.

Ruggero K, Al-Assar O, Chambers JS, Codrington R, Brend T, Rabbitts TH. 2016. LMO2 and IL2RG synergize in thymocytes to mimic the evolution of SCID-X1 gene therapy-associated T-cell leukaemia. Leukemia, 30 (9), pp. 1959-1962. | Read more

Town J, Pais H, Harrison S, Stead LF, Bataille C, Bunjobpol W, Zhang J, Rabbitts TH. 2016. Exploring the surfaceome of Ewing sarcoma identifies a new and unique therapeutic target. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113 (13), pp. 3603-3608. | Show Abstract | Read more

The cell surface proteome of tumors mediates the interface between the transformed cells and the general microenvironment, including interactions with stromal cells in the tumor niche and immune cells such as T cells. In addition, the cell surface proteome of individual cancers defines biomarkers for that tumor type and potential proteins that can be the target of antibody-mediated therapy. We have used next-generation deep RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) coupled to an in-house database of genes encoding cell surface proteins (herein referred to as the surfaceome) as a tool to define a cell surface proteome of Ewing sarcoma compared with progenitor mesenchymal stem cells. This subtractive RNA-seq analysis revealed a specific surfaceome of Ewing and showed unexpectedly that the leucine-rich repeat and Ig domain protein 1 (LINGO1) is expressed in over 90% of Ewing sarcoma tumors, but not expressed in any other somatic tissue apart from the brain. We found that the LINGO1 protein acts as a gateway protein internalizing into the tumor cells when engaged by antibody and can carry antibody conjugated with drugs to kill Ewing sarcoma cells. Therefore, LINGO1 is a new, unique, and specific biomarker and drug target for the treatment of Ewing sarcoma.

Zeng J, Li HC, Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2015. Selection of human single domain antibodies recognizing the CMYC protein using enhanced intracellular antibody capture. J Immunol Methods, 426 pp. 140-143. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protein functions that are mediated by interaction with other proteins (protein-protein interactions, PPI) are important for normal cell biology and also in disease. Molecules that can interfere with PPI are required as laboratory tools to dissect function, as lead drug surrogates for target validation and as templates for drug discovery. We describe enhanced developments to Intracellular Antibody Capture (IAC) technology that can select antibody fragments able to interact with targets in cells. This is illustrated by the isolation of single heavy chain variable region domains binding to the basic-helix-loop-helix and leucine zipper region of the CMYC oncogenic protein. The enhanced IAC (eIAC) methodology deploys screening in yeast cells of a single diverse library initially with randomization only of CDR3. Further sequential randomization of CDR2 and CDR1 of three independently selected anti-CMYC clones illustrates an in vivo affinity maturation process. This concise eIAC approach facilitates the rapid selection of antibody fragments to explore the proteome interaction spectrum of mammalian cells and disease targeting.

Chambers J, Rabbitts TH. 2015. LMO2 at 25 years: a paradigm of chromosomal translocation proteins. Open Biol, 5 (6), pp. 150062. | Show Abstract | Read more

LMO2 was first discovered through proximity to frequently occurring chromosomal translocations in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL). Subsequent studies on its role in tumours and in normal settings have highlighted LMO2 as an archetypical chromosomal translocation oncogene, activated by association with antigen receptor gene loci and a paradigm for translocation gene activation in T-ALL. The normal function of LMO2 in haematopoietic cell fate and angiogenesis suggests it is a master gene regulator exerting a dysfunctional control on differentiation following chromosomal translocations. Its importance in T cell neoplasia has been further emphasized by the recurrent findings of interstitial deletions of chromosome 11 near LMO2 and of LMO2 as a target of retroviral insertion gene activation during gene therapy trials for X chromosome-linked severe combined immuno-deficiency syndrome, both types of event leading to similar T cell leukaemia. The discovery of LMO2 in some B cell neoplasias and in some epithelial cancers suggests a more ubiquitous function as an oncogenic protein, and that the current development of novel inhibitors will be of great value in future cancer treatment. Further, the role of LMO2 in angiogenesis and in haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) bodes well for targeting LMO2 in angiogenic disorders and in generating autologous induced HSCs for application in various clinical indications.

Newnham LE, Wright MJ, Holdsworth G, Kostarelos K, Robinson MK, Rabbitts TH, Lawson AD. 2015. Functional inhibition of β-catenin-mediated Wnt signaling by intracellular VHH antibodies. MAbs, 7 (1), pp. 180-191. | Show Abstract | Read more

The Wnt signaling pathway is of central importance in embryogenesis, development and adult tissue homeostasis, and dysregulation of this pathway is associated with cancer and other diseases. Despite the developmental and potential therapeutic significance of this pathway, many aspects of Wnt signaling, including the control of the master transcriptional co-activator β-catenin, remain poorly understood. In order to explore this aspect, a diverse immune llama VHH phagemid library was constructed and panned against β-catenin. VHH antibody fragments from the library were expressed intracellularly, and a number of antibodies were shown to possess function-modifying intracellular activity in a luciferase-based Wnt signaling HEK293 reporter bioassay. Further characterization of one such VHH (named LL3) confirmed that it bound endogenous β-catenin, and that it inhibited the Wnt signaling pathway downstream of the destruction complex, while production of a control Ala-substituted complementarity-determining region (CDR)3 mutant demonstrated that the inhibition of β-catenin activity by the parent intracellular antibody was dependent on the specific CDR sequence of the antibody.

Peirs S, Matthijssens F, Goossens S, Van de Walle I, Ruggero K, de Bock CE, Degryse S, Canté-Barrett K, Briot D, Clappier E et al. 2014. ABT-199 mediated inhibition of BCL-2 as a novel therapeutic strategy in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Blood, 124 (25), pp. 3738-3747. | Show Abstract | Read more

T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is a high-risk subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with gradually improved survival through introduction of intensified chemotherapy. However, therapy-resistant or refractory T-ALL remains a major clinical challenge. Here, we evaluated B-cell lymphoma (BCL)-2 inhibition by the BH3 mimetic ABT-199 as a new therapeutic strategy in human T-ALL. The T-ALL cell line LOUCY, which shows a transcriptional program related to immature T-ALL, exhibited high in vitro and in vivo sensitivity for ABT-199 in correspondence with high levels of BCL-2. In addition, ABT-199 showed synergistic therapeutic effects with different chemotherapeutic agents including doxorubicin, l-asparaginase, and dexamethasone. Furthermore, in vitro analysis of primary patient samples indicated that some immature, TLX3- or HOXA-positive primary T-ALLs are highly sensitive to BCL-2 inhibition, whereas TAL1 driven tumors mostly showed poor ABT-199 responses. Because BCL-2 shows high expression in early T-cell precursors and gradually decreases during normal T-cell differentiation, differences in ABT-199 sensitivity could partially be mediated by distinct stages of differentiation arrest between different molecular genetic subtypes of human T-ALL. In conclusion, our study highlights BCL-2 as an attractive molecular target in specific subtypes of human T-ALL that could be exploited by ABT-199.

Chambers JS, Tanaka T, Brend T, Ali H, Geisler NJ, Khazin L, Cigudosa JC, Dear TN, MacLennan K, Rabbitts TH. 2014. Sequential gene targeting to make chimeric tumor models with de novo chromosomal abnormalities. Cancer Res, 74 (5), pp. 1588-1597. | Show Abstract | Read more

The discovery of chromosomal translocations in leukemia/lymphoma and sarcomas presaged a widespread discovery in epithelial tumors. With the advent of new-generation whole-genome sequencing, many consistent chromosomal abnormalities have been described together with putative driver and passenger mutations. The multiple genetic changes required in mouse models to assess the interrelationship of abnormalities and other mutations are severe limitations. Here, we show that sequential gene targeting of embryonic stem cells can be used to yield progenitor cells to generate chimeric offspring carrying all the genetic changes needed for cell-specific cancer. Illustrating the technology, we show that MLL-ENL fusion is sufficient for lethal leukocytosis and proof of genome integrity comes from germline transmission of the sequentially targeted alleles. This accelerated technology leads to a reduction in mouse numbers (contributing significantly to the 3Rs), allows fluorescence tagging of cancer-initiating cells, and provides a flexible platform for interrogating the interaction of chromosomal abnormalities with mutations.

Zhang J, Rabbitts TH. 2014. Intracellular antibody capture: A molecular biology approach to inhibitors of protein-protein interactions. Biochim Biophys Acta, 1844 (11), pp. 1970-1976. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many proteins of interest in basic biology, translational research studies and for clinical targeting in diseases reside inside the cell and function by interacting with other macromolecules. Protein complexes control basic processes such as development and cell division but also abnormal cell growth when mutations occur such as found in cancer. Interfering with protein-protein interactions is an important aspiration in both basic and disease biology but small molecule inhibitors have been difficult and expensive to isolate. Recently, we have adapted molecular biology techniques to develop a simple set of protocols for isolation of high affinity antibody fragments (in the form of single VH domains) that function within the reducing environment of higher organism cells and can bind to their target molecules. The method called Intracellular Antibody Capture (IAC) has been used to develop inhibitory anti-RAS and anti-LMO2 single domains that have been used for target validation of these antigens in pre-clinical cancer models and illustrate the efficacy of the IAC approach to generation of drug surrogates. Future use of inhibitory VH antibody fragments as drugs in their own right (we term these macrodrugs to distinguish them from small molecule drugs) requires their delivery to target cells in vivo but they can also be templates for small molecule drug development that emulate the binding sites of the antibody fragments. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Recent advances in molecular engineering of antibody.

Sewell H, Tanaka T, El Omari K, Mancini EJ, Cruz A, Fernandez-Fuentes N, Chambers J, Rabbitts TH. 2014. Conformational flexibility of the oncogenic protein LMO2 primes the formation of the multi-protein transcription complex. Sci Rep, 4 (1), pp. 3643. | Show Abstract | Read more

LMO2 was discovered via chromosomal translocations in T-cell leukaemia and shown normally to be essential for haematopoiesis. LMO2 is made up of two LIM only domains (thus it is a LIM-only protein) and forms a bridge in a multi-protein complex. We have studied the mechanism of formation of this complex using a single domain antibody fragment that inhibits LMO2 by sequestering it in a non-functional form. The crystal structure of LMO2 with this antibody fragment has been solved revealing a conformational difference in the positioning and angle between the two LIM domains compared with its normal binding. This contortion occurs by bending at a central helical region of LMO2. This is a unique mechanism for inhibiting an intracellular protein function and the structural contusion implies a model in which newly synthesized, intrinsically disordered LMO2 binds to a partner protein nucleating further interactions and suggests approaches for therapeutic targeting of LMO2.

El-Jawhari JJ, El-Sherbiny YM, Scott GB, Morgan RS, Prestwich R, Bowles PA, Blair GE, Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH, Meade JL, Cook GP. 2014. Blocking oncogenic RAS enhances tumour cell surface MHC class I expression but does not alter susceptibility to cytotoxic lymphocytes. Mol Immunol, 58 (2), pp. 160-168. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mutations in the RAS family of oncogenes are highly prevalent in human cancer and, amongst its manifold effects, oncogenic RAS impairs the expression of components of the antigen presentation pathway. This allows evasion of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). CTL and natural killer (NK) cells are reciprocally regulated by MHC class I molecules and any gain in CTL recognition obtained by therapeutic inactivation of oncogenic RAS may be offset by reduced NK cell activation. We have investigated the consequences of targeted inactivation of oncogenic RAS on the recognition by both CTL and NK cells. Inactivation of oncogenic RAS, either by genetic deletion or inactivation with an inducible intracellular domain antibody (iDAb), increased MHC class I expression in human colorectal cell lines. The common RAS mutations, at codons 12, 13 and 61, all inhibited antigen presentation. Although MHC class I modulates the activity of both CTL and NK cells, the enhanced MHC class I expression resulting from inactivation of mutant KRAS did not significantly affect the in vitro recognition of these cell lines by either class of cytotoxic lymphocyte. These results show that oncogenic RAS and its downstream signalling pathways modulate the antigen presentation pathway and that this inhibition is reversible. However, the magnitude of these effects was not sufficient to alter the in vitro recognition of tumour cell lines by either CTL or NK cells.

Li BE, Gan T, Meyerson M, Rabbitts TH, Ernst P. 2013. Distinct pathways regulated by menin and by MLL1 in hematopoietic stem cells and developing B cells. Blood, 122 (12), pp. 2039-2046. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL1) translocations encode fusion proteins retaining the N terminus of MLL1, which interacts with the tumor suppressor, menin. This interaction is essential for leukemogenesis and thus is a promising drug target. However, wild-type MLL1 plays a critical role in sustaining hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs); therefore, disruption of an essential MLL1 cofactor would be expected to obliterate normal hematopoiesis. Here we show that rather than working together as a complex, menin and MLL1 regulate distinct pathways during normal hematopoiesis, particularly in HSCs and B cells. We demonstrate the lack of genetic interaction between menin and MLL1 in steady-state or regenerative hematopoiesis and in B-cell differentiation despite the fact that MLL1 is critical for these processes. In B cells, menin- or MLL1-regulated genes can be classified into 3 categories: (1) a relatively small group of coregulated genes including previously described targets Hoxa9 and Meis1 but also Mecom and Eya1, and much larger groups of (2) exclusively menin-regulated and (3) exclusively MLL1-regulated genes. Our results highlight the large degree of independence of these 2 proteins and demonstrate that menin is not a requisite cofactor for MLL1 during normal hematopoiesis. Furthermore, our data support the development of menin-MLL1-disrupting drugs as safe and selective leukemia targeting agents.

McCormack MP, Shields BJ, Jackson JT, Nasa C, Shi W, Slater NJ, Tremblay CS, Rabbitts TH, Curtis DJ. 2013. Requirement for Lyl1 in a model of Lmo2-driven early T-cell precursor ALL. Blood, 122 (12), pp. 2093-2103. | Show Abstract | Read more

Lmo2 is an oncogenic transcription factor that is frequently overexpressed in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), including early T-cell precursor ALL (ETP-ALL) cases with poor prognosis. Lmo2 must be recruited to DNA by binding to the hematopoietic basic helix-loop-helix factors Scl/Tal1 or Lyl1. However, it is unknown which of these factors can mediate the leukemic activity of Lmo2. To address this, we have generated Lmo2-transgenic mice lacking either Scl or Lyl1 in the thymus. We show that although Scl is dispensable for Lmo2-driven leukemia, Lyl1 is critical for all oncogenic functions of Lmo2, including upregulation of a stem cell-like gene signature, aberrant self-renewal of thymocytes, and subsequent generation of T-cell leukemia. Lyl1 expression is restricted to preleukemic and leukemic stem cell populations in this model, providing a molecular explanation for the stage-specific expression of the Lmo2-induced gene expression program. Moreover, LMO2 and LYL1 are coexpressed in ETP-ALL patient samples, and LYL1 is required for growth of ETP-ALL cell lines. Thus, the LMO2-LYL1 interaction is a promising therapeutic target for inhibiting self-renewing cancer stem cells in T-ALL, including poor-prognosis ETP-ALL cases.

Cruz-Migoni A, Fuentes-Fernandez N, Rabbitts TH. 2013. Peptides: minimal drug surrogates to interrogate and interfere with protein function MEDCHEMCOMM, 4 (9), pp. 1218-1221. | Show Abstract | Read more

The interactome in normal and disease cells is a key area for study and therapeutic targeting, yet few molecules have been developed that can interfere with protein-protein interactions within cells. A variety of options are being examined to target protein-protein interfaces in simple and in multi protein complexes. The work of Hamilton and colleagues has developed approaches to the synthesis of proteomimetics for this purpose and thus recognized novel scaffolds can be critical reagents to protein targets. In this short report, we have outlined two of our own molecular biology approaches to specific peptide isolation targeting protein interfaces for peptide design, with the goal being eventual therapeutic intervention. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Ali H, Daser A, Dear P, Wood H, Rabbitts P, Rabbitts T. 2013. Nonreciprocal chromosomal translocations in renal cancer involve multiple DSBs and NHEJ associated with breakpoint inversion but not necessarily with transcription. Genes Chromosomes Cancer, 52 (4), pp. 402-409. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal translocations and other abnormalities are central to the initiation of cancer in all cell types. Understanding the mechanism is therefore important to evaluate the evolution of cancer from the cancer initiating events to overt disease. Recent work has concentrated on model systems to develop an understanding of the molecular mechanisms of translocations but naturally occurring events are more ideal case studies since biological selection is absent from model systems. In solid tumours, nonreciprocal translocations are most commonly found, and accordingly we have investigated the recurrent nonreciprocal t(3;5) chromosomal translocations in renal carcinoma to better understand the mechanism of these naturally occurring translocations in cancer. Unexpectedly, the junctions of these translocations can be associated with site-specific, intrachromosomal inversion involving at least two double strand breaks (DSB) in cis and rejoining by nonhomologous end joining or micro-homology end joining. However, these translocations are not necessarily associated with transcribed regions questioning accessibility per se in controlling these events. In addition, intrachromosomal deletions also occur. We conclude these naturally occurring, nonreciprocal t(3;5) chromosomal translocations occur after complex and multiple unresolved intrachromosomal DSBs leading to aberrant joining with concurrent interstitial inversion and that clonal selection of cells is the critical element in cancer development emerging from a plethora of DSBs that may not always be pathogenic.

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2012. Intracellular antibody capture (IAC) methods for single domain antibodies Methods in Molecular Biology, 911 pp. 151-173. | Show Abstract | Read more

Intracellular single domain antibodies are recombinant proteins, comprising one variable region domain fragment, that bind specifically to intracellular molecules and can interfere with their particular functions within various cellular compartments. They are valuable tools in bioscience and potential macrodrugs in biotherapeutics; however, their application is still limited because of the difficulty and inefficiency of acquisition of functional intracellular antibodies. We describe here the new generation protocol for intracellular antibody capture to facilitate selection of functional single domains. This protocol uses a series of optimized single domain libraries, based on designed intracellular variable (VH or VL) region scaffolds, for direct in vivo isolation of single domains that bind to target proteins and interaction and for affinity maturation to develop sub-nM affinity antibody fragments. The method has advantages over other methods in that specific single domains are isolated directly within the reducing cellular environment and can be selected without in vitro antigen protein preparation. In an accompanying methods paper, we describe a simple extension of the methodology to isolate subsets of IAC-captured single domains that interfere with protein-protein interactions. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2012. Selection of functional single domain antibody fragments for interfering with protein-protein interactions inside cells: A "one plasmid" mammalian two-hybrid system Methods in Molecular Biology, 911 pp. 175-182. | Show Abstract | Read more

As a complement to the intracellular antibody capture method to isolate intracellular single domain antibody fragments (iDabs) from high diverse libraries, we describe here a simple mammalian two-hybrid (M2H) protocol using a "bait-prey hybrid single plasmid" to assess those interfering iDabs that will block protein-protein interactions of a target with its natural partner proteins. This rapid method identifies interfering iDabs in one step and improves the reproducibility of the results between experiments and samples (e.g., different single domain antibody clones) compared to traditional M2H. This method yields functional, interfering iDabs and can be applied to any interfering molecule for use as a research tool or template for clinical inhibitor production. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Dixon AS, Constance JE, Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH, Lim CS. 2012. Changing the subcellular location of the oncoprotein Bcr-Abl using rationally designed capture motifs. Pharm Res, 29 (4), pp. 1098-1109. | Show Abstract | Read more

PURPOSE: Bcr-Abl, the causative agent of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), localizes in the cytoplasm where its oncogenic signaling leads to proliferation of cells. If forced into the nucleus Bcr-Abl causes apoptosis. To achieve nuclear translocation, binding domains for capture of Bcr-Abl were generated and attached to proteins with signals destined for the nucleus. These resulting proteins would be capable of binding and translocating endogenous Bcr-Abl to the nucleus. METHODS: Bcr-Abl was targeted at 3 distinct domains for capture: by construction of high affinity intracellular antibody domains (iDabs) to regions of Bcr-Abl known to promote cytoplasmic retention, via its coiled coil domain (CC), and through a naturally occurring protein-protein interaction domain (RIN1). These binding domains were then tested for their ability to escort Bcr-Abl into the nucleus using a "protein switch" or attachment of 4 nuclear localization signals (NLSs). RESULTS: Although RIN1, ABI7-iDab, and CCmut3 constructs all produced similar colocalization with Bcr-Abl, only 4NLS-CCmut3 produced efficient nuclear translocation of Bcr-Abl. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate that a small binding domain can be used to control the subcellular localization of Bcr-Abl, which may have implications for CML therapy. Our ultimate future goal is to change the location of critical proteins to alter their function.

Tanaka T, Sewell H, Waters S, Phillips SE, Rabbitts TH. 2011. Single domain intracellular antibodies from diverse libraries: emphasizing dual functions of LMO2 protein interactions using a single VH domain. J Biol Chem, 286 (5), pp. 3707-3716. | Show Abstract | Read more

Interfering intracellular antibodies are valuable for biological studies as drug surrogates and as potential macromolecular drugs per se. Their application is still limited because of the difficulty of acquisition of functional intracellular antibodies. We describe the use of the new intracellular antibody capture procedure (IAC(3)) to facilitate direct isolation of functional single domain antibody fragments using four independent target molecules (LMO2, TP53, CRAF1, and Hoxa9) from a set of diverse libraries. Initially, these have variability in only one of the three antigen-binding CDR regions of VH or VL and first round single domains are affinity matured by iterative randomization of the two other CDRs and reselection. We highlight the approach using a single domain binding to LMO2 protein. Our results show that interfering with LMO2 protein function demonstrates a role specifically in erythroid differentiation, confirm a necessary and sufficient function for LMO2 as a cancer therapy target in T-cell neoplasia and allowed for the first time production of soluble recombinant LMO2 protein by co-expression with intracellular domain antibodies. Co-crystallization of LMO2 and the anti-LMO2 VH protein was successful. These results demonstrate that this third generation IAC(3) offers a robust toolbox for various biomedical applications and consolidates functional features of the LMO2 protein complex, which includes the importance of Lmo2-Ldb1 protein interaction.

McCormack MP, Young LF, Vasudevan S, de Graaf CA, Codrington R, Rabbitts TH, Jane SM, Curtis DJ. 2010. The Lmo2 oncogene initiates leukemia in mice by inducing thymocyte self-renewal. Science, 327 (5967), pp. 879-883. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LMO2 oncogene causes a subset of human T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias (T-ALL), including four cases that arose as adverse events in gene therapy trials. To investigate the cellular origin of LMO2-induced leukemia, we used cell fate mapping to study mice in which the Lmo2 gene was constitutively expressed in the thymus. Lmo2 induced self-renewal of committed T cells in the mice more than 8 months before the development of overt T-ALL. These self-renewing cells retained the capacity for T cell differentiation but expressed several genes typical of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), suggesting that Lmo2 might reactivate an HSC-specific transcriptional program. Forced expression of one such gene, Hhex, was sufficient to initiate self-renewal of thymocytes in vivo. Thus, Lmo2 promotes the self-renewal of preleukemic thymocytes, providing a mechanism by which committed T cells can then accumulate additional genetic mutations required for leukemic transformation.

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2010. Interfering with RAS-effector protein interactions prevent RAS-dependent tumour initiation and causes stop-start control of cancer growth. Oncogene, 29 (45), pp. 6064-6070. | Show Abstract | Read more

RAS mutations are the most common gain-of-function change in human cancer and promise to be a critical therapy target. As a new approach, we have used a surrogate to drug the 'undruggable' (that is, RAS-effector protein-protein interactions inside cancer cells) in pre-clinical mouse models of RAS-dependent cancers. Using this novel reagent, we have specifically targeted RAS signalling in a transgenic mouse model of lung cancer by directly blockading RAS-effector interactions with an antibody fragment that binds to activated RAS, and show that the interaction of RAS and effectors, such as phosphoinositide 3-kinase and RAF, is necessary for tumour initiation. Further, interference with oncogenic RAS-effector interactions result in control of tumour growth in human cancer cells but, crucially, does not necessarily cause tumour regression. These findings support the concept that ablating RAS-dependent signalling in cancer will have chemo-preventive effects that confer a chronic state in cancer and suggest that mutant RAS-targeted therapies may require conjoint targeting of other molecules and/or current cancer therapeutic strategies (for example, radiotherapy and chemotherapy) to be curative. In this context, our findings suggest that the oncogene addiction model is not universally correct in its central thesis that cancer cell death is inevitable after loss of oncogenic protein function.

Pérez-Martínez D, Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2010. Intracellular antibodies and cancer: new technologies offer therapeutic opportunities. Bioessays, 32 (7), pp. 589-598. | Show Abstract | Read more

Since the realisation that the antigen-binding regions of antibodies, the variable (V) regions, can be uncoupled from the rest of the molecule to create fragments that recognise and abrogate particular protein functions in cells, the use of antibody fragments inside cells has become an important tool in bioscience. Diverse libraries of antibody fragments plus in vivo screening can be used to isolate single chain variable fragments comprising VH and VL segments or single V-region domains. Some of these are interfering antibody fragments that compete with protein-protein interactions, providing lead molecules for drug interactions that until now have been considered difficult or undruggable. It may be possible to deliver or express antibody fragments in target cells as macrodrugs per se. In future incarnations of intracellular antibodies, however, the structural information of the interaction interface of target and antibody fragment should facilitate development of binding site mimics as small drug-like molecules. This is a new dawn for intracellular antibody fragments both as macrodrugs and as precursors of drugs to treat human diseases and should finally lead to the removal of the epithet of the 'undruggable' protein-protein interactions.

McCaughan F, Pole JC, Bankier AT, Konfortov BA, Carroll B, Falzon M, Rabbitts TH, George PJ, Dear PH, Rabbitts PH. 2010. Progressive 3q amplification consistently targets SOX2 in preinvasive squamous lung cancer. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 182 (1), pp. 83-91. | Show Abstract | Read more

RATIONALE: Amplification of distal 3q is the most common genomic aberration in squamous lung cancer (SQC). SQC develops in a multistage progression from normal bronchial epithelium through dysplasia to invasive disease. Identifying the key driver events in the early pathogenesis of SQC will facilitate the search for predictive molecular biomarkers and the identification of novel molecular targets for chemoprevention and therapeutic strategies. For technical reasons, previous attempts to analyze 3q amplification in preinvasive lesions have focused on small numbers of predetermined candidate loci rather than an unbiased survey of copy-number variation. OBJECTIVES: To perform a detailed analysis of the 3q amplicon in bronchial dysplasia of different histological grades. METHODS: We use molecular copy-number counting (MCC) to analyze the structure of chromosome 3 in 19 preinvasive bronchial biopsy specimens from 15 patients and sequential biopsy specimens from 3 individuals. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We demonstrate that no low-grade lesions, but all high-grade lesions, have 3q amplification. None of seven low-grade lesions progressed clinically, whereas 8 of 10 patients with high-grade disease progressed to cancer. We identify a minimum commonly amplified region on chromosome 3 consisting of 17 genes, including 2 known oncogenes, SOX2 and PIK3CA. We confirm that both genes are amplified in all high-grade dysplastic lesions tested. We further demonstrate, in three individuals, that the clinical progression of high-grade preinvasive disease is associated with incremental amplification of SOX2, suggesting this promotes malignant progression. CONCLUSIONS: These findings demonstrate progressive 3q amplification in the evolution of preinvasive SQC and implicate SOX2 as a key target of this dynamic process.

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2010. Protocol for the selection of single-domain antibody fragments by third generation intracellular antibody capture. Nat Protoc, 5 (1), pp. 67-92. | Show Abstract | Read more

Single-domain intracellular antibodies are antibody variable segments that bind to specific target proteins inside cells. These antigen-binding variable regions can interfere with protein function or perturb protein-protein interactions and can be used as tools for research, especially functional genomics and proteomics and interfering with the protein interactome. This protocol (Intracellular Antibody Capture, IAC(3)) describes the isolation of functional variable heavy (VH) or variable light (VL) segments from diverse libraries. The protocol comprises four principle steps: validation of a bait antigen; initial screening in yeast of a single domain library; generation of sub-libraries after the initial screen; and finally confirmation of the positive clones interaction with antigen in yeast and mammalian cells. Each library (initial, second and third) screening takes upto 2 weeks and the overall procedure <3 months. This third generation IAC method has many advantages, including isolation of single domain intracellular antibodies with high affinity and specificity by direct in vivo genetic selection.

Appert A, Nam CH, Lobato N, Priego E, Miguel RN, Blundell T, Drynan L, Sewell H, Tanaka T, Rabbitts T. 2009. Targeting LMO2 with a peptide aptamer establishes a necessary function in overt T-cell neoplasia. Cancer Res, 69 (11), pp. 4784-4790. | Show Abstract | Read more

LMO2 is a transcription regulator involved in human T-cell leukemia, including some occurring in X-SCID gene therapy trials, and in B-cell lymphomas and prostate cancer. LMO2 functions in transcription complexes via protein-protein interactions involving two LIM domains and causes a preleukemic T-cell development blockade followed by clonal tumors. Therefore, LMO2 is necessary but not sufficient for overt neoplasias, which must undergo additional mutations before frank malignancy. An open question is the importance of LMO2 in tumor development as opposed to sustaining cancer. We have addressed this using a peptide aptamer that binds to the second LIM domain of the LMO2 protein and disrupts its function. This specificity is mediated by a conserved Cys-Cys motif, which is similar to the zinc-binding LIM domains. The peptide inhibits Lmo2 function in a mouse T-cell tumor transplantation assay by preventing Lmo2-dependent T-cell neoplasia. Lmo2 is, therefore, required for sustained T-cell tumor growth, in addition to its preleukemic effect. Interference with LMO2 complexes is a strategy for controlling LMO2-mediated cancers, and the finger structure of LMO2 is an explicit focus for drug development.

Rabbitts TH. 2009. Commonality but diversity in cancer gene fusions. Cell, 137 (3), pp. 391-395. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent findings of gene fusions in carcinomas recapitulate the discovery of chromosomal abnormalities in leukemias and sarcomas decades ago. A recurring feature of carcinoma gene fusions, in contrast to those in hematopoietic and mesenchymal malignancies, is that they result in aberrant cell signaling. This may reflect differences in the differentiation programs of these tissues.

Assi SA, Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH, Fernandez-Fuentes N. 2010. PCRPi: Presaging Critical Residues in Protein interfaces, a new computational tool to chart hot spots in protein interfaces. Nucleic Acids Res, 38 (6), pp. e86. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) are ubiquitous in Biology, and thus offer an enormous potential for the discovery of novel therapeutics. Although protein interfaces are large and lack defining physiochemical traits, is well established that only a small portion of interface residues, the so-called hot spot residues, contribute the most to the binding energy of the protein complex. Moreover, recent successes in development of novel drugs aimed at disrupting PPIs rely on targeting such residues. Experimental methods for describing critical residues are lengthy and costly; therefore, there is a need for computational tools that can complement experimental efforts. Here, we describe a new computational approach to predict hot spot residues in protein interfaces. The method, called Presaging Critical Residues in Protein interfaces (PCRPi), depends on the integration of diverse metrics into a unique probabilistic measure by using Bayesian Networks. We have benchmarked our method using a large set of experimentally verified hot spot residues and on a blind prediction on the protein complex formed by HRAS protein and a single domain antibody. Under both scenarios, PCRPi delivered consistent and accurate predictions. Finally, PCRPi is able to handle cases where some of the input data is either missing or not reliable (e.g. evolutionary information).

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2009. Selection of complementary single-variable domains for building monoclonal antibodies to native proteins. Nucleic Acids Res, 37 (5), pp. e41. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antibodies are now indispensable tools for all areas of cell biology and biotechnology as well as for diagnosis and therapy. Antigen-specific single immunoglobulin variable domains that bind to native antigens can be isolated and manipulated using yeast intracellular antibody capture technology but converting these to whole monoclonal antibody requires that complementary variable domains (VH or VL) bind to the same antigenic site. We describe a simple approach (CatcherAb) for specific isolation of such complementary single domains allowing the constitution of functional Fv, forming the basis of antigen-specific whole immunoglobulin and thus antibody production. We illustrate this approach by developing high-affinity Fv from single variable domains binding to RAS and LMO2 oncogenic proteins.

Nam CH, Lobato MN, Appert A, Drynan LF, Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2008. An antibody inhibitor of the LMO2-protein complex blocks its normal and tumorigenic functions. Oncogene, 27 (36), pp. 4962-4968. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LIM-domain protein LMO2 is a T-cell oncogenic protein first recognized by gene activation through chromosomal translocations, but it is also responsible for leukaemias arising as secondary, adverse effects in an X-SCID gene therapy trial. There are no specific reagents currently available to analyse the LMO2 multiprotein complex or to combat LMO2-dependent leukaemias. Accordingly, we have isolated an anti-LMO2 single chain Fv antibody fragment to determine if intracellular interference with LMO2-protein complexes can avert LMO2-dependent functions in normal and cancer settings. The anti-LMO2 single chain Fv, obtained using Intracellular Antibody Capture (IAC) technology, is specific for LMO2 among the LIM-only protein family and binds LMO2 through the third and fourth LIM fingers. Using vector-mediated expression of anti-LMO2 scFv, we show inhibition of Lmo2-dependent erythropoiesis but not endothelial development. We also demonstrate inhibition of Lmo2-dependent leukaemia in a mouse T-cell tumourigenesis transplantation assay with retroviral-mediated expression of anti-LMO2 scFv. Our studies establish that interference with the LMO2 multiprotein complex inhibits both normal and tumourigenic roles. The antibody fragment is a tool for dissecting LMO2 function in haematopoiesis and leukaemia and is a lead for development of therapeutics against LMO2-dependent T-ALL.

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2008. Functional intracellular antibody fragments do not require invariant intra-domain disulfide bonds. J Mol Biol, 376 (3), pp. 749-757. | Show Abstract | Read more

Intracellular antibody fragments that interfere with molecular interactions inside cells are valuable in investigation of interactomes and in therapeutics, but their application demands that they function in the reducing cellular milieu. We show here a 2.7-A crystal structure of intracellular antibody folds based on scaffolds developed from intracellular antibody capture technology, and we reveal that there is no structural or functional difference with or without the intra-domain disulfide bond of the variable domain of heavy chain or the variable domain of light chain. The data indicate that, in the reducing in vivo environment, the absence of the intra-domain disulfide bond is not an impediment to correction of antibody folding or to interaction with antigen. Thus, the structural constraints for in-cell function are intrinsic to variable single-domain framework sequences, providing a generic scaffold for isolation of functional intracellular antibody single domains.

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2008. Interfering with protein-protein interactions: potential for cancer therapy. Cell Cycle, 7 (11), pp. 1569-1574. | Show Abstract | Read more

Genotype-specific cancer therapy promises to engender the era of personalised medicines in which rapid identification of tumour specific gene mutations coupled to rapid methods for efficacious drug identification will be applied. Aberrant signal transduction via protein-protein interactions is generally difficult to target with small molecules. However, macromolecules (macrodrugs) can be developed that interfere with protein-protein interactions by binding with high affinity and specificity to contact surfaces. Inhibitors of mutant RAS and its effector protein interactions affect cancer by attenuating aberrant RAS-dependent signal transduction and would be effective against mutant RAS in dividing cells of overt tumours and in putative cancer stem cells when they move into cell-cycle. Results with an antibody fragment blocking effector binding to RAS, illustrates that this is sufficient to prevent cancer. While macrodrugs have inherent problems of bio-distribution and delivery to target cells in patients, their efficacy suggests that efforts to achieve the goal of clinical use should be pursued.

Cano F, Drynan LF, Pannell R, Rabbitts TH. 2008. Leukaemia lineage specification caused by cell-specific Mll-Enl translocations. Oncogene, 27 (13), pp. 1945-1950. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal translocations involving the Mixed-Lineage Leukaemia (MLL) gene underlie many human leukaemias and MLL rearrangements are found in both acute myelogenous and acute lymphoblastic leukaemias. To assess the functionally relevant haematopoietic cell contexts for MLL fusions to be tumorigenic, we have generated different lines of mice in which de novo Mll-associated translocations occur. In these models, reciprocal chromosomal translocations occur by means of Cre-loxP-mediated recombination (translocator mice) in different cells of the haematopoietic system (namely haematopoietic stem cells, semi-committed progenitors or committed T or B cells). Translocations between Mll and Enl cause myeloid neoplasias, initiating in stem cells or progenitors while no tumours arose when the translocation was restricted to the B-cell compartment. Despite the absence of tumorigenesis, Mll-Enl translocations did occur and Mll-Enl fusion mRNA was expressed in B-cell-restricted translocators. A permissive cellular environment is therefore required for oncogenicity of Mll-associated translocations since the occurrence of Mll-Enl does not promote unrestricted proliferation in all haematopoietic cellular contexts, consistent with a specific instructive role of the MLL-fusion proteins in leukaemogenesis.

McCaughan F, Darai-Ramqvist E, Bankier AT, Konfortov BA, Foster N, George PJ, Rabbitts TH, Kost-Alimova M, Rabbitts PH, Dear PH. 2008. Microdissection molecular copy-number counting (microMCC)--unlocking cancer archives with digital PCR. J Pathol, 216 (3), pp. 307-316. | Show Abstract | Read more

Most cancer genomes are characterized by the gain or loss of copies of some sequences through deletion, amplification or unbalanced translocations. Delineating and quantifying these changes is important in understanding the initiation and progression of cancer, in identifying novel therapeutic targets, and in the diagnosis and prognosis of individual patients. Conventional methods for measuring copy-number are limited in their ability to analyse large numbers of loci, in their dynamic range and accuracy, or in their ability to analyse small or degraded samples. This latter limitation makes it difficult to access the wealth of fixed, archived material present in clinical collections, and also impairs our ability to analyse small numbers of selected cells from biopsies. Molecular copy-number counting (MCC), a digital PCR technique, has been used to delineate a non-reciprocal translocation using good quality DNA from a renal carcinoma cell line. We now demonstrate microMCC, an adaptation of MCC which allows the precise assessment of copy number variation over a significant dynamic range, in template DNA extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded clinical biopsies. Further, microMCC can accurately measure copy number variation at multiple loci, even when applied to picogram quantities of grossly degraded DNA extracted after laser capture microdissection of fixed specimens. Finally, we demonstrate the power of microMCC to precisely interrogate cancer genomes, in a way not currently feasible with other methodologies, by defining the position of a junction between an amplified and non-amplified genomic segment in a bronchial carcinoma. This has tremendous potential for the exploitation of archived resources for high-resolution targeted cancer genomics and in the future for interrogating multiple loci in cancer diagnostics or prognostics.

Rodriguez-Perales S, Cano F, Lobato MN, Rabbitts TH. 2008. MLL gene fusions in human leukaemias: in vivo modelling to recapitulate these primary tumourigenic events. Int J Hematol, 87 (1), pp. 3-9. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recurrent reciprocal chromosomal translocations are frequently found in leukaemias and sarcomas as initiating events in these cancers. Mouse models of chromosomal translocations are not only important for the elucidation of the mechanism of these factors underlying the disease but are also important pre-clinical models for assessing new drug combinations, developing new rational therapeutic strategies based on new drugs and testing novel macromolecular drugs. We describe three technologies for creating chromosomal translocation mimics in mice, applied specifically to understand how the MLL-fusions contribute to leukaemia. An important finding of this work is that the lineage of the tumours can be controlled by the MLL-protein fusion. The translocation mimic methods can be applied to any human reciprocal chromosomal translocation.

Lobato MN, Metzler M, Drynan L, Forster A, Pannell R, Rabbitts TH. 2008. Modeling chromosomal translocations using conditional alleles to recapitulate initiating events in human leukemias. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr, 2008 (39), pp. 58-63. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recurrent reciprocal chromosomal translocations are present in more than 50% of leukemias. A deeper understanding of how they affect cancer initiation is essential for evaluating the origins of cancer and the potential for therapy based on the translocation products. Mouse models of chromosomal translocations are required for this. Here we summarize three methodologies developed in our laboratory to model chromosomal translocations (knock-in, translocator, and invertor methods). We have used these models to study leukemias caused by fusions of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene and the Ews-ERG fusion gene to evaluate oncogenicity and elucidate some general principles about translocation products. We show that MLL fusions have the capacity to cause hematopoietic tumors only if expressed in permissive cells and that the Mll-Enl fusion can cause lineage reassignment if the chromosomal translocation occurs in lineage noncommitted progenitors. The leukemia-initiating cells generated by Mll fusions or by Ews-ERG fusion can be committed cells within the hematopoietic pathway. Our translocation mimic models are applicable to any human reciprocal chromosomal translocation.

Cano F, Pannel R, Follows GA, Rabbitts TH. 2008. Preclinical modeling of cytosine arabinoside response in Mll-Enl translocator mouse leukemias. Mol Cancer Ther, 7 (3), pp. 730-735. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mouse models of human cancer are a potential preclinical setting for drug testing and for development of methods for delivery of macromolecular drugs to tumors. We have assessed a mouse model of leukemia caused by Mll-Enl protein fusion as a preclinical situation in which myeloid-lineage leukemia results from de novo occurrence of chromosomal translocations between Mll and Enl genes. Here, we show that the mouse leukemias respond to cytosine arabinoside, a frontline treatment for human leukemia. The observations show that the myeloid cells are susceptible to the drug and the mice undergo a remission that comprises a reduction of the myeloid population of cells and recovery of the lymphoid population. This translocator model should therefore prove useful for future drug assessments against the recurrent mixed-lineage leukemia-associated translocations.

Andrews W, Barber M, Hernadez-Miranda LR, Xian J, Rakic S, Sundaresan V, Rabbitts TH, Pannell R, Rabbitts P, Thompson H et al. 2008. The role of Slit-Robo signaling in the generation, migration and morphological differentiation of cortical interneurons. Dev Biol, 313 (2), pp. 648-658. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cortical interneurons in rodents are generated in the ventral telencephalon and migrate tangentially into the cortex. This process requires the coordinated action of many intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Here we show that Robo1 and Robo2 receptor proteins are dynamically expressed throughout the period of corticogenesis and colocalize with interneuronal markers, suggesting that they play a role in the migration of these cells. Analysis of Robo mutants showed a marked increase in the number of interneurons in the cortices of Robo1(-/-), but not Robo2(-/-), animals throughout the period of corticogenesis and in adulthood; this excess number of interneurons was observed in all layers of the developing cortex. Using BrdU incorporation in dissociated cell cultures and phosphohistone-3 labeling in vivo, we demonstrated that the increased number of interneurons in Robo1(-/-) mice is, at least in part, due to increased proliferation. Interestingly, a similar increase in proliferation was observed in Slit1(-/-)/Slit2(-/-) mutant mice, suggesting that cell division is influenced by Slit-Robo signaling mechanisms. Morphometric analysis of migrating interneurons in Robo1(-/-), Robo2(-/-) and Slit1(-/-)/Slit2(-/-), but not in Slit1(-/-) mice, showed a differential increase in neuronal process length and branching suggesting that Slit-Robo signaling also plays an important role in the morphological differentiation of these neurons.

Tanaka T, Williams RL, Rabbitts TH. 2007. Tumour prevention by a single antibody domain targeting the interaction of signal transduction proteins with RAS. EMBO J, 26 (13), pp. 3250-3259. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many disease-related processes occur via protein complexes that are considered undruggable with small molecules. An example is RAS, which is frequently mutated in cancer and contributes to initiation and maintenance of the disease by constitutive signal transduction through protein interaction with effector proteins, like PI3K, RAF and RALGDS. Such protein interactions are therefore significant targets for therapy. We describe a single immunoglobulin variable region domain that specifically binds to activated GTP-bound RAS and prevents RAS-dependent tumorigenesis in a mouse model. The crystal structure of the immunoglobulin-RAS complex shows that the variable region competitively binds to the conformationally variant regions of RAS, where its signalling effector molecules interact. This allows the plasma membrane targeted single domain intrabody to inhibit signalling by mutant RAS. This mode of action is a novel advance to directly interfere with oncogenic RAS function in human cancer and shows a universally applicable approach to develop macromolecules to combat cancer. In addition, this method illustrates a general means for interfering with protein interactions that are commonly considered intractable as conventional drug targets.

Metzler M, Forster A, Pannell R, Arends MJ, Daser A, Lobato MN, Rabbitts TH. 2006. A conditional model of MLL-AF4 B-cell tumourigenesis using invertor technology. Oncogene, 25 (22), pp. 3093-3103. | Show Abstract | Read more

MLL-AF4 fusion is the most common consequence of chromosomal translocations in infant leukaemia and is associated with a poor prognosis. MLL-AF4 is thought to be required in haematopoietic stem cells to elicit leukaemia and may be involved in tumour phenotype specification as it is only found in B-cell tumours in humans. We have employed the invertor conditional technology to create a model of MLL-AF4, in which a floxed AF4 cDNA was knocked into Mll in the opposite orientation for transcription. Cell-specific Cre expression was used to generate Mll-AF4 expression. The mice develop exclusively B-cell lineage neoplasias, whether the Cre gene was controlled by B- or T-cell promoters, but of a more mature phenotype than normally observed in childhood leukaemia. These findings show that the MLL-AF4 fusion protein does not have a mandatory role in multi-potent haematopoietic stem cells to cause cancer and indicates that MLL-AF4 has an instructive function in the phenotype of the tumour.

Daser A, Thangavelu M, Pannell R, Forster A, Sparrow L, Chung G, Dear PH, Rabbitts TH. 2006. Corrigendum: Interrogation of genomes by molecular copy-number counting (MCC) Nature Methods, 3 (7), pp. 579-579. | Read more

Daser A, Thangavelu M, Pannell R, Forster A, Sparrow L, Chung G, Dear PH, Rabbitts TH. 2006. Interrogation of genomes by molecular copy-number counting (MCC). Nat Methods, 3 (6), pp. 447-453. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human cancers and some congenital traits are characterized by cytogenetic aberrations including translocations, amplifications, duplications or deletions that can involve gain or loss of genetic material. We have developed a simple method to precisely delineate such regions with known or cryptic genomic alterations. Molecular copy-number counting (MCC) uses PCR to interrogate miniscule amounts of genomic DNA and allows progressive delineation of DNA content to within a few hundred base pairs of a genomic alteration. As an example, we have located the junctions of a recurrent nonreciprocal translocation between chromosomes 3 and 5 in human renal cell carcinoma, facilitating cloning of the breakpoint without recourse to genomic libraries. The analysis also revealed additional cryptic chromosomal changes close to the translocation junction. MCC is a fast and flexible method for characterizing a wide range of chromosomal aberrations.

Nam CH, Rabbitts TH. 2006. The role of LMO2 in development and in T cell leukemia after chromosomal translocation or retroviral insertion. Mol Ther, 13 (1), pp. 15-25. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal translocations are primary events in the development of leukemias, representing at least one genetic feature of the putative cancer stem cell. Studies of genes influenced by chromosomal translocations have yielded a vast amount of information about how cancer is initiated and maintained. In particular, acute leukemias have demonstrated that chromosomal translocations often involve transcription regulators that function by interacting with proteins and by controlling cell fate in the aberrant setting of the developing cancer cell. As a quintessential chromosomal translocation gene product, LMO2 has many properties that typify this class of molecule. In addition to its involvement in chromosomal translocations, the LMO2 gene was inadvertently activated in an X-SCID gene therapy trial by retroviral insertion. New molecular therapies targeted directly at the LMO2 protein could have major impact as adjuncts to existing therapies or as therapeutics in their own right. In this review, we outline the current knowledge about LMO2 and some possible routes to develop reagents that might be possible macromolecular drugs in the future.

Forster A, Pannell R, Drynan LF, Codrington R, Daser A, Metzler M, Lobato MN, Rabbitts TH. 2005. The invertor knock-in conditional chromosomal translocation mimic. Nat Methods, 2 (1), pp. 27-30. | Show Abstract | Read more

Knock-in models of tumor-specific chromosomal translocations can generate lethal mutations. To circumvent this, a new conditional gene fusion model has been developed (invertor mice) and exemplified with the Ews-ERG fusion oncogene. An ERG segment, flanked by loxP sites, was knocked in to an intron of the Ews gene but in an inverted transcription orientation and lineage-specific Ews-ERG fusion created by Cre-mediated inversion. This invertor method is a completely conditional approach, applicable to any gene fusion, to emulate effects of translocations found in human cancers.

Forster A, Pannell R, Drynan L, Cano F, Chan N, Codrington R, Daser A, Lobato N, Metzler M, Nam CH et al. 2005. Chromosomal translocation engineering to recapitulate primary events of human cancer. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol, 70 pp. 275-282. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mouse models of human cancers are important for understanding determinants of overt disease and for "preclinical" development of rational therapeutic strategies; for instance, based on macrodrugs. Chromosomal translocations underlie many human leukemias, sarcomas, and epithelial tumors. We have developed three technologies based on homologous recombination in mouse ES cells to mimic human chromosome translocations. The first, called the knockin method, allows creation of fusion genes like those typical of translocations of human leukemias and sarcomas. Two new conditional chromosomal translocation mimics have been developed. The first is a method for generating reciprocal chromosomal translocations de novo using Cre-loxP recombination (translocator mice). In some cases, there is incompatible gene orientation and the translocator model cannot be applied. We have developed a different model (invertor mice) for these situations. This method consists of introducing an inverted cDNA cassette into the intron of a target gene and bringing the cassette into the correct transcriptional orientation by Cre-loxP recombination. We describe experiments using the translocator model to generate MLL-mediated neoplasias and the invertor method to generate EWS-ERG-mediated cancer. These methods mimic the situation found in human chromosome translocations and provide the framework for design and study of human chromosomal translocations in mice.

Drynan LF, Pannell R, Forster A, Chan NM, Cano F, Daser A, Rabbitts TH. 2005. Mll fusions generated by Cre-loxP-mediated de novo translocations can induce lineage reassignment in tumorigenesis. EMBO J, 24 (17), pp. 3136-3146. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal translocations are primary events in tumorigenesis. Those involving the mixed lineage leukaemia (MLL) gene are found in various guises and it is unclear whether MLL fusions can affect haematopoietic differentiation. We have used a model in which chromosomal translocations are generated in mice de novo by Cre-loxP-mediated recombination (translocator mice) to compare the functionally relevant haematopoietic cell contexts for Mll fusions, namely pluripotent stem cells, semicommitted progenitors or committed cells. Translocations between Mll and Enl or Af9 cause myeloid neoplasias, initiating in pluripotent stem cells or multipotent myeloid progenitors. However, while Mll-Enl translocations can also cause leukaemia from T-cell progenitors, no tumours arose with Mll-Af9 translocations in the T-cell compartment. Furthermore, Mll-Enl translocations in T-cell progenitors can cause lineage reassignment into myeloid tumours. Therefore, a permissive cellular environment is required for oncogenicity of Mll-associated translocations and Mll fusions can influence haematopoietic lineage commitment.

Codrington R, Pannell R, Forster A, Drynan LF, Daser A, Lobato N, Metzler M, Rabbitts TH. 2005. The Ews-ERG fusion protein can initiate neoplasia from lineage-committed haematopoietic cells. PLoS Biol, 3 (8), pp. e242. | Show Abstract | Read more

The EWS-ERG fusion protein is found in human sarcomas with the chromosomal translocation t(21;22)(q22;q12), where the translocation is considered to be an initiating event in sarcoma formation within uncommitted mesenchymal cells, probably long-lived progenitors capable of self renewal. The fusion protein may not therefore have an oncogenic capability beyond these progenitors. To assess whether EWS-ERG can be a tumour initiator in cells other than mesenchymal cells, we have analysed Ews-ERG fusion protein function in a cellular environment not typical of that found in human cancers, namely, committed lymphoid cells. We have used Ews-ERG invertor mice having an inverted ERG cDNA cassette flanked by loxP sites knocked in the Ews intron 8, crossed with mice expressing Cre recombinase under the control of the Rag1 gene to give conditional, lymphoid-specific expression of the fusion protein. Clonal T cell neoplasias arose in these mice. This conditional Ews gene fusion model of tumourigenesis shows that Ews-ERG can cause haematopoietic tumours and the precursor cells are committed cells. Thus, Ews-ERG can function in cells that do not have to be pluripotent progenitors or mesenchymal cells.

Daser A, Rabbitts TH. 2005. The versatile mixed lineage leukaemia gene MLL and its many associations in leukaemogenesis. Semin Cancer Biol, 15 (3), pp. 175-188. | Show Abstract | Read more

The marked association of abnormalities of chromosome 11 long arm, band q23, with human leukaemia led to the identification of the 11q23 gene called MLL (or HTRX, HRX, TRX1, ALL-1). MLL can become fused with one of a remarkable panoply of genes from other chromosome locations in individual leukaemias, leading to either acute myeloid or lymphoid tumours (hence the name MLL for mixed lineage leukaemia). The unusual finding that a single protein could be involved in both myeloid and lymphoid malignancies and that the truncated protein could do so as a fusion with very disparate partners has prompted studies to define the molecular role of MLL-fusions in leukaemogenesis and to the development of MLL-controlled mouse models of leukaemogenesis. These studies have defined MLL-fusion proteins as regulators of gene expression, controlling such elements as HOX genes, and have indicated a variety of mechanisms by which MLL-fusion proteins contribute to leukaemogenesis.

Xian J, Aitchison A, Bobrow L, Corbett G, Pannell R, Rabbitts T, Rabbitts P. 2004. Targeted disruption of the 3p12 gene, Dutt1/Robo1, predisposes mice to lung adenocarcinomas and lymphomas with methylation of the gene promoter. Cancer Res, 64 (18), pp. 6432-6437. | Show Abstract | Read more

The DUTT1 gene is located on human chromosome 3, band p12, within a region of nested homozygous deletions in breast and lung tumors. It is therefore a candidate tumor suppressor gene in humans and is the homologue (ROBO1) of the Drosophila axonal guidance receptor gene, Roundabout. We have shown previously that mice with a targeted homozygous deletion within the Dutt1/Robo1 gene generally die at birth due to incomplete lung development: survivors die within the first year of life with epithelial bronchial hyperplasia as a common feature. Because Dutt1/Robo1 heterozygous mice develop normally, we have determined their tumor susceptibility. Mice with a targeted deletion within one Dutt1/Robo1 allele spontaneously develop lymphomas and carcinomas in their second year of life with a 3-fold increase in incidence compared with controls: invasive lung adenocarcinomas are by far the predominant carcinoma. In addition to the mutant allele, loss of heterozygosity analysis indicates that these tumors retain the structurally normal allele but with substantial methylation of the gene's promoter. Substantial reduction of Dutt1/Robo1 protein expression in tumors is observed by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. This suggests that Dutt1/Robo1 is a classic tumor suppressor gene requiring inactivation of both alleles to elicit tumorigenesis in these mice.

McCormack MP, Rabbitts TH. 2004. Activation of the T-cell oncogene LMO2 after gene therapy for X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency. N Engl J Med, 350 (9), pp. 913-922. | Read more

Daser A, Rabbitts TH. 2004. Extending the repertoire of the mixed-lineage leukemia gene MLL in leukemogenesis. Genes Dev, 18 (9), pp. 965-974. | Read more

Lobato MN, Rabbitts TH. 2004. Intracellular antibodies as specific reagents for functional ablation: future therapeutic molecules. Curr Mol Med, 4 (5), pp. 519-528. | Show Abstract | Read more

The use of antibodies in medicine and research depends on their specificity and affinity in the recogniton and binding of individual molecules. However, these applications are limited to the extracellular targets. Advances in antibody engineering has allowed the manipulation of the antibody segments containing the antigen-binding regions and generation of small fragments that can be stably expressed in cells. These entities are called intracellular antibodies or intrabodies and have being successfully applied, mainly in the scFv format, to inhibit the function of intracellular target proteins in specific cellular compartments. As new techniques to select and isolate intrabody fragments have been developed, intrabodies are beginning to be used to interfere with the function of a greater number of relevant disease targets. Just as monoclonal antibodies are opening a new era in human therapeutics, intrabodies promise a new prospective for antibody tools for therapy and research. Their varied mode of action gives intrabodies great potential in different approaches in the treatment of human diseases, as well as in the area of functional genomics for characterisation of novel gene products and subsequent validation as potential drug targets. While techniques for identifying functional intrabodies have improved, there are still many significant problems to be overcome before intrabodies can actually be used in treatment of diseases such as cancer, AIDS or neuro-degenerative disorders.

Tse E, Smith AJ, Hunt S, Lavenir I, Forster A, Warren AJ, Grutz G, Foroni L, Carlton MB, Colledge WH et al. 2004. Null mutation of the Lmo4 gene or a combined null mutation of the Lmo1/Lmo3 genes causes perinatal lethality, and Lmo4 controls neural tube development in mice. Mol Cell Biol, 24 (5), pp. 2063-2073. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LIM-only family of proteins comprises four members; two of these (LMO1 and LMO2) are involved in human T-cell leukemia via chromosomal translocations, and LMO2 is a master regulator of hematopoiesis. We have carried out gene targeting of the other members of the LIM-only family, viz., genes Lmo1, Lmo3 and Lmo4, to investigate their role in mouse development. None of these genes has an obligatory role in lymphopoiesis. In addition, while null mutations of Lmo1 or Lmo3 have no discernible phenotype, null mutation of Lmo4 alone causes perinatal lethality due to a severe neural tube defect which occurs in the form of anencephaly or exencephaly. Since the Lmo1 and Lmo3 gene sequences are highly related and have partly overlapping expression domains, we assessed the effect of compound Lmo1/Lmo3 null mutations. Although no anatomical defects were apparent in compound null pups, these animals also die within 24 h of birth, suggesting that a compensation between the related Lmo1 and 3 proteins can occur during embryogenesis to negate the individual loss of these genes. Our results complete the gene targeting of the LIM-only family in mice and suggest that all four members of this family are important in regulators of distinct developmental pathways.

Fischer A, Abina SH, Thrasher A, von Kalle C, Cavazzana-Calvo M. 2004. LMO2 and gene therapy for severe combined immunodeficiency. N Engl J Med, 350 (24), pp. 2526-2527. | Read more

Rabbitts TH, Stocks MR. 2003. Chromosomal translocation products engender new intracellular therapeutic technologies. Nat Med, 9 (4), pp. 383-386. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal translocations occur in leukemias, lymphomas, sarcomas and some epithelial tumors and some generate unique fusion proteins. These translocation products may provide tumor-specific targets for the development of new therapeutic strategies tailored to a malignant cell.

Tanaka T, Chung GT, Forster A, Lobato MN, Rabbitts TH. 2003. De novo production of diverse intracellular antibody libraries. Nucleic Acids Res, 31 (5), pp. e23. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many therapeutic targets are intracellular proteins and molecules designed to interact with them must effectively bind to their target inside the cell. Intracellular antibodies (intrabodies) recognise and bind to proteins in cells and various methods have been developed to produce such molecules. Intracellular antibody capture (IAC) is based on a genetic screening approach and is a facile methodology with which effective intracellular antibodies can be obtained. During the development of the IAC technology, consensus immunoglobulin variable frameworks were identified which can form the basis of intrabody libraries for direct screening. In this paper, we describe the de novo synthesis of intrabody libraries based on the IAC consensus sequence. The procedure comprises in vitro production of a single antibody gene fragment from oligonucleotides and diversification of CDRs of the immunoglobulin variable domain by mutagenic PCR. Completely de novo intrabody libraries can be rapidly generated in vitro by these approaches. As an example, a single immunoglobulin VH domain intrabody library was screened directly in yeast with an oncogenic BCR-ABL antigen bait and distinct antigen binders were isolated illustrating the functional utility of the library. This second generation IAC approach (IAC2) has many practical advantages, in particular the ability to isolate intrabodies by direct genetic selection, which obviates the need for in vitro production of antigen for pre-selection of antibody fragments.

Forster A, Pannell R, Drynan LF, McCormack M, Collins EC, Daser A, Rabbitts TH. 2003. Engineering de novo reciprocal chromosomal translocations associated with Mll to replicate primary events of human cancer. Cancer Cell, 3 (5), pp. 449-458. | Show Abstract | Read more

The etiology of human tumors often involves chromosomal translocations. Models that emulate translocations are essential to understanding the determinants of frank malignancy, those dictating the restriction of translocations to specific lineages, and as a basis for development of rational therapeutic methods. We demonstrate that developmentally regulated Cre-loxP-mediated interchromosomal recombination between the Mll gene, whose human counterpart is involved in a spectrum of leukemias, and the Enl gene creates reciprocal chromosomal translocations that cause myeloid tumors. There is a rapid onset and high penetrance of leukemogenesis in these translocator mice, and high proportions of cells carrying chromosomal translocations can be found in bone marrow as early as 12 days after birth. This de novo strategy is a direct recapitulation of naturally occurring human cancer-associated translocations.

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2003. Intrabodies based on intracellular capture frameworks that bind the RAS protein with high affinity and impair oncogenic transformation. EMBO J, 22 (5), pp. 1025-1035. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have applied in vivo intracellular antibody capture (IAC) technology to isolate human intrabodies which bind to the oncogenic RAS protein. IAC facilitates the capture of antibody fragments, in this case single-chain Fvs (scFvs), which tolerate reducing environments, such as the cytoplasm of cancer cells. Three anti-RAS scFvs with different affinity, solubility and intracellular binding activity were characterized. The anti-RAS scFvs with highest affinity were expressed relatively poorly in mammalian cells, and greater soluble expression was achieved by mutating the antibody framework to canonical consensus scaffolds, previously derived from IAC, without losing antigen specificity. Mutagenesis experiments showed that the consensus scaffolds are functional as intrabody fragments without an intra-domain disulfide bond. Furthermore, we could convert an intrabody which does not bind RAS in mammalian cells into a high-affinity reagent capable of inhibiting RAS-mediated NIH 3T3 transformation by exchanging VH and VL complementarity-determining regions onto its consensus scaffold. These data show that the consensus scaffold is a robust framework by which to improve intrabody function.

Lobato MN, Rabbitts TH. 2003. Intracellular antibodies and challenges facing their use as therapeutic agents. Trends Mol Med, 9 (9), pp. 390-396. | Show Abstract | Read more

A key feature of antibodies is their ability to bind antigens with high specificity and affinity. This has led to the concept of intracellular antibodies (intrabodies), designed to mimic antibody-antigen binding, but inside cells. Antibody fragments comprising the antigen-binding variable domains are convenient formats for intrabodies, potentially allowing for intracellular functionality. Intrabodies are promising tools, capable of interfering with a wide range of molecular targets in various intracellular compartments. However, many significant challenges remain to be overcome before intrabodies can be useful therapeutic agents. Although major progress has been made in the design and selection of intrabodies, new developments and advances are needed to allow their efficient delivery and expression for treatment of human diseases.

Gering M, Yamada Y, Rabbitts TH, Patient RK. 2003. Lmo2 and Scl/Tal1 convert non-axial mesoderm into haemangioblasts which differentiate into endothelial cells in the absence of Gata1. Development, 130 (25), pp. 6187-6199. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LIM domain protein Lmo2 and the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Scl/Tal1 are expressed in early haematopoietic and endothelial progenitors and interact with each other in haematopoietic cells. While loss-of-function studies have shown that Lmo2 and Scl/Tal1 are essential for haematopoiesis and angiogenic remodelling of the vasculature, gain-of-function studies have suggested an earlier role for Scl/Tal1 in the specification of haemangioblasts, putative bipotential precursors of blood and endothelium. In zebrafish embryos, Scl/Tal1 can induce these progenitors from early mesoderm mainly at the expense of the somitic paraxial mesoderm. We show that this restriction to the somitic paraxial mesoderm correlates well with the ability of Scl/Tal1 to induce ectopic expression of its interaction partner Lmo2. Co-injection of lmo2 mRNA with scl/tal1 dramatically extends its effect to head, heart, pronephros and pronephric duct mesoderm inducing early blood and endothelial genes all along the anteroposterior axis. Erythroid development, however, is expanded only into pronephric mesoderm, remaining excluded from head, heart and somitic paraxial mesoderm territories. This restriction correlates well with activation of gata1 transcription and co-injection of gata1 mRNA along with scl/tal1 and lmo2 induces erythropoiesis more broadly without ventralising or posteriorising the embryo. While no ectopic myeloid development from the Scl/Tal1-Lmo2-induced haemangioblasts was observed, a dramatic increase in the number of endothelial cells was found. These results suggest that, in the absence of inducers of erythroid or myeloid haematopoiesis, Scl/Tal1-Lmo2-induced haemangioblasts differentiate into endothelial cells.

Hacein-Bey-Abina S, Von Kalle C, Schmidt M, McCormack MP, Wulffraat N, Leboulch P, Lim A, Osborne CS, Pawliuk R, Morillon E et al. 2003. LMO2-associated clonal T cell proliferation in two patients after gene therapy for SCID-X1. Science, 302 (5644), pp. 415-419. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have previously shown correction of X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency [SCID-X1, also known as gamma chain (gamma(c)) deficiency] in 9 out of 10 patients by retrovirus-mediated gamma(c) gene transfer into autologous CD34 bone marrow cells. However, almost 3 years after gene therapy, uncontrolled exponential clonal proliferation of mature T cells (with gammadelta+ or alphabeta+ T cell receptors) has occurred in the two youngest patients. Both patients' clones showed retrovirus vector integration in proximity to the LMO2 proto-oncogene promoter, leading to aberrant transcription and expression of LMO2. Thus, retrovirus vector insertion can trigger deregulated premalignant cell proliferation with unexpected frequency, most likely driven by retrovirus enhancer activity on the LMO2 gene promoter.

Johnson JJ, Chen W, Hudson W, Yao Q, Taylor M, Rabbitts TH, Kersey JH. 2003. Prenatal and postnatal myeloid cells demonstrate stepwise progression in the pathogenesis of MLL fusion gene leukemia. Blood, 101 (8), pp. 3229-3235. | Show Abstract | Read more

The steps to leukemia following an in utero fusion of MLL (HRX, ALL-1) to a partner gene in humans are not known. Introduction of the Mll-AF9 fusion gene into embryonic stem cells results in leukemia in mice with cell-type specificity similar to humans. In this study we used myeloid colony assays, immunophenotyping, and transplantation to evaluate myelopoiesis in Mll-AF9 mice. Colony assays demonstrated that both prenatal and postnatal Mll-AF9 tissues have significantly increased numbers of CD11b(+)/CD117(+)/Gr-1(+/-) myeloid cells, often in compact clusters. The self-renewal capacity of prenatal myeloid progenitors was found to decrease following serial replating of colony-forming cells. In contrast, early postnatal myeloid progenitors increased following replating; however, the enhanced self-renewal of early postnatal myeloid progenitor cells was limited and did not result in long-term cell lines or leukemia in vivo. Unlimited replating, long-term CD11b/Gr-1(+) myeloid cell lines, and the ability to produce early leukemia in vivo in transplantation experiments, were found only in mice with overt leukemia. Prenatal Mll-AF9 tissues had reduced total (mature and progenitor) CD11b/Gr-1(+) cells compared with wild-type tissues. Colony replating, immunophenotyping, and cytochemistry suggest that any perturbation of cellular differentiation from the prenatal stage onward is partial and largely reversible. We describe a novel informative in vitro and in vivo model system that permits study of the stages in the pathogenesis of Mll fusion gene leukemia, beginning in prenatal myeloid cells, progressing to a second stage in the postnatal period and, finally, resulting in overt leukemia in adult animals.

Tanaka T, Lobato MN, Rabbitts TH. 2003. Single domain intracellular antibodies: a minimal fragment for direct in vivo selection of antigen-specific intrabodies. J Mol Biol, 331 (5), pp. 1109-1120. | Show Abstract | Read more

There is a major need in target validation and therapeutic applications for molecules that can interfere with protein function inside cells. Intracellular antibodies (intrabodies) can bind to specific targets in cells but isolation of intrabodies is currently difficult. Intrabodies are normally single chain Fv fragments comprising variable domains of the immunoglobulin heavy (VH) and light chains (VL). We now demonstrate that single VH domains have excellent intracellular properties of solubility, stability and expression within the cells of higher organisms and can exhibit specific antigen recognition in vivo. We have used this intracellular single variable domain (IDab) format, based on a previously characterised intrabody consensus scaffold, to generate diverse intrabody libraries for direct in vivo screening. IDabs were isolated using two distinct antigens and affinities of isolated IDabs ranged between 20 nM and 200 nM. Moreover, IDabs selected for binding to the RAS protein could inhibit RAS-dependent oncogenic transformation of NIH3T3 cells. The IDab format is therefore ideal for in vivo intrabody use. This approach to intrabodies obviates the need for phage antibody libraries, avoids the requirement for production of antigen in vitro and allows for direct selection of intrabodies in vivo.

Chung GT, Yamada Y, Pannell R, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 2003. The hepatitis C virus internal ribosome entry site facilitates efficient protein synthesis in blood vessel endothelium during tumour angiogenesis. Nucleic Acids Res, 31 (8), pp. e46. | Show Abstract | Read more

The development of gene delivery systems for therapeutic use involves vectors (often retrovirus or adenovirus) which typically encode one target protein, but the use of internal ribosome entry sites (IRES) can confer the ability to express more than one protein from bi- or polycistronic mRNAs. IRES elements can display tissue-specific expression, so it is necessary to determine suitable IRES for specific clinical applicability. Blood vessel endothelial cells are important clinically since many different conditions involve neo-vascularisation (angiogenesis). We have demonstrated that the viral hepatitis C IRES element is a powerful mediator of protein synthesis in angiogenesis, such as found in solid tumours. Homologous recombination was used to introduce IRES-lacZ sequences into the Lmo2 gene, which is expressed in endothelial cells. beta-Galactosidase expression was determined during vascular remodelling in mouse embryos and in sprouting endothelium during growth of solid tumours, and showed that the hepatitis C IRES is used efficiently for protein synthesis in endothelial cells. This IRES element can provide the means to express two or more therapeutic genes in blood vessel endothelium in clinical conditions, such as cancer, which depend on angiogenesis.

McCormack MP, Forster A, Drynan L, Pannell R, Rabbitts TH. 2003. The LMO2 T-cell oncogene is activated via chromosomal translocations or retroviral insertion during gene therapy but has no mandatory role in normal T-cell development. Mol Cell Biol, 23 (24), pp. 9003-9013. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LMO2 gene encodes a LIM-only protein and is a target of chromosomal translocations in human T-cell leukemia. Recently, two X-SCID patients treated by gene therapy to rescue T-cell lymphopoiesis developed T-cell leukemias with retroviral insertion into the LMO2 gene causing clonal T-cell proliferation. In view of the specificity of LMO2 in T-cell tumorigenesis, we investigated a possible role for Lmo2 in T-lymphopoiesis, using conditional knockout of mouse Lmo2 with loxP-flanked Lmo2 and Cre recombinase alleles driven by the promoters of the lymphoid-specific genes Rag1, CD19, and Lck. While efficient deletion of Lmo2 was observed, even in the earliest detectable lymphoid cell progenitors of the bone marrow, there was no disturbance of lymphopoiesis in either T- or B-cell lineages, and in contrast to Lmo2 transgenic mice, there were normal distributions of CD4- CD- thymocytes. We conclude that there is no mandatory role for LMO2 in lymphoid development, implying that its specific role in T-cell tumorigenesis results from a reprogramming of gene expression after enforced expression in T-cell precursors.

Tse E, Chung G, Rabbitts TH. 2002. Isolation of antigen-specific intracellular antibody fragments as single chain Fv for use in mammalian cells. Methods Mol Biol, 185 pp. 433-446.

Tse E, Lobato MN, Forster A, Tanaka T, Chung GT, Rabbitts TH. 2002. Intracellular antibody capture technology: application to selection of intracellular antibodies recognising the BCR-ABL oncogenic protein. J Mol Biol, 317 (1), pp. 85-94. | Show Abstract | Read more

The expression of antibodies inside cells to ablate protein function has the potential for disease therapy and for target validation in functional genomics. However, due to inefficient expression or folding, only a few antibodies or antibody fragments, usually as single-chain Fv antibody fragments (scFv), bind their antigens in an intracellular environment. We have established a genetic-selection technology (intracellular antibody capture, IAC) to facilitate the isolation of functional intracellular scFv from a diverse repertoire. This approach comprises an in vitro library screen with scFv-expressing bacteriophage, employing bacterially expressed antigen, followed by a yeast in vivo antibody-antigen interaction screen of the sub-library of in vitro scFv antigen-binders. Accordingly, we have isolated panels of scFv that bind intracellularly to the BCR or the ABL parts of the BCR-ABL oncogenic protein. Sequence analysis of the intracellular antibody scFv panels revealed a sequence conservation indicating an intracellular antibody consensus for both VH and VL, which could form the basis for the de novo synthesis of intracellular antibody libraries to be used with intracellular antibody-capture technology.

Collins EC, Appert A, Ariza-McNaughton L, Pannell R, Yamada Y, Rabbitts TH. 2002. Mouse Af9 is a controller of embryo patterning, like Mll, whose human homologue fuses with Af9 after chromosomal translocation in leukemia. Mol Cell Biol, 22 (20), pp. 7313-7324. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal translocation t(9;11)(p22;q23) in acute myeloid leukemia fuses the MLL and AF9 genes. We have inactivated the murine homologue of AF9 to elucidate its normal role. No effect on hematopoiesis was observed in mice with a null mutation of Af9. However, an Af9 null mutation caused perinatal lethality, and homozygous mice exhibited anomalies of the axial skeleton. Both the cervical and thoracic regions were affected by anterior homeotic transformation. Strikingly, mice lacking functional Af9 exhibited a grossly deformed atlas and an extra cervical vertebra. To determine the molecular mediators of this phenotype, analysis of Hox gene expression by in situ hybridization showed that Af9 null embryos have posterior changes in Hoxd4 gene expression. We conclude that the Af9 gene is required for normal embryogenesis in mice by controlling pattern formation, apparently via control of Hox gene regulation. This is analogous to the role of Mll, the murine homolog of human MLL, to which the Af9 gene fuses in acute myeloid leukemias.

Spandidos A, Rabbitts TH. 2002. Sub-proteome differential display: single gel comparison by 2D electrophoresis and mass spectrometry. J Mol Biol, 318 (1), pp. 21-31. | Show Abstract | Read more

Two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry (MS) have been used in comparative proteomics but inherent problems of the 2D electrophoresis technique lead to difficulties when comparing two samples. We describe a method (sub-proteome differential display) for comparing the proteins from two sources simultaneously. Proteins from one source are mixed with radiolabelled proteins from a second source in a ratio of 100:1. These combined proteomes are fractionated simultaneously using column chromatographic methods, followed by analysis of the pre-fractionated proteomes (designated sub-proteomes) using 2D gel electrophoresis. Silver staining and (35)S autoradiography of a single gel allows precise discrimination between members of each sub-proteome, using commonly available computer software. This is followed by MS identification of individual proteins. We have demonstrated the utility of the technology by identifying the product of a transfected gene and several proteins expressed differentially between two renal carcinoma proteomes. The procedure has the capacity to enrich proteins prior to 2D electrophoresis and provides a simple, inexpensive approach to compare proteomes. The single gel approach eliminates differences that might arise if separate proteome fractionations or 2D gels are employed.

Yamada Y, Pannell R, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 2002. The LIM-domain protein Lmo2 is a key regulator of tumour angiogenesis: a new anti-angiogenesis drug target. Oncogene, 21 (9), pp. 1309-1315. | Show Abstract | Read more

The growth of solid tumours requires a blood supply provided by re-modeling of existing blood vessel endothelium (angiogenesis). Little is known about transcription regulators which are specific for the control of tumour angiogenesis. The proto-oncogene LMO2 encodes a LIM domain transcription regulator which controls angiogenesis during mouse embryogenesis where it regulates remodelling of the capillary network into mature vessels. We now show that Lmo2 expression is augmented in tumour endothelium such as mouse thymomas and human lung tumours. The functional significance of this Lmo2 expression was assessed in teratocarcinomas induced in nude mice by subcutaneous implantation of Lmo2-lacZ targeted ES cells. CD31-positive, sprouting endothelium of ES-cell origin occurred in teratocarcinomas from heterozygous Lmo2-lacZ ES cells but none occurred from null Lmo2-lacZ ES cells. Therefore, in this model Lmo2 is an obligatory regulator of neo-vascularization of tumours. These data suggest that LMO2 function may be a drug target in cancer and other conditions characterized by neo-vascularization.

Collins EC, Rabbitts TH. 2002. The promiscuous MLL gene links chromosomal translocations to cellular differentiation and tumour tropism. Trends Mol Med, 8 (9), pp. 436-442. | Show Abstract | Read more

MLL is a promiscuous gene involved in a diversity of chromosomal fusions in haematological malignancies, usually resulting from chromosomal translocations. MLL-associated chromosomal rearrangements usually occur in tumours of specific haematological lineages, suggesting a crucial role for the MLL fusion partner in determining disease phenotype (or tumour tropism). The MLL gene is homologous to Drosophila trithorax, and is likewise involved in embryo pattern formation. Common themes linking several of the MLL partners include a possible involvement in embryo patterning via Hox gene regulation and chromatin remodelling. These findings reinforce the link between developmental regulation and chromosomal translocations, and indicate the role of chromosomal translocation in activating genes capable of determining tumour phenotype in leukaemias and sarcomas.

Rabbitts TH. 2001. Chromosomal translocation master genes, mouse models and experimental therapeutics. Oncogene, 20 (40), pp. 5763-5777. | Show Abstract | Read more

Molecular biologists have elucidated general principles about chromosomal translocations by cloning oncogenes or fusion genes at chromosomal translocation junctions. These genes invariably encode intracellular proteins and in acute cancers, often involve transcription and developmental regulators, which are master regulators of cell fate (e.g. LMO2 which is involved in acute leukaemia). Chromosomal translocations are usually associated with specific cell types. The reason for this close association is under investigation using mouse models. We are trying to emulate the cell-specific consequences of chromosomal translocations in mice using homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells to generate de novo chromosomal translocations or to mimic the consequence of these translocations. In addition, chromosomal translocation genes and their products are important targets for therapy. We have designed new therapeutic strategies which include antigen-specific recruitment of endogenous cellular pathways to affect cellular viability and a novel structured form of antisense to ablate the function of fusion mRNAs. We will evaluate these procedures in the mouse models of chromosomal translocations and the long term aim is to perfect rapid procedures for characterizing patient-specific chromosomal translocations to tailor therapy to individual patients.

Xian J, Clark KJ, Fordham R, Pannell R, Rabbitts TH, Rabbitts PH. 2001. Inadequate lung development and bronchial hyperplasia in mice with a targeted deletion in the Dutt1/Robo1 gene. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 98 (26), pp. 15062-15066. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosome 3 allele loss in preinvasive bronchial abnormalities and carcinogen-exposed, histologically normal bronchial epithelium indicates that it is an early, possibly the first, somatic genetic change in lung tumor development. Candidate tumor suppressor genes have been isolated from within distinct 3p regions implicated by heterozygous and homozygous allele loss. We have proposed that DUTT1, nested within homozygously deleted regions at 3p12-13, is the tumor suppressor gene that deletion-mapping and tumor suppression assays indicate is located in proximal 3p. The same gene, ROBO1 (accession number ), was independently isolated as the human homologue of the Drosophila gene, Roundabout. The gene, coding for a receptor with a domain structure of the neural-cell adhesion molecule family, is widely expressed and has been implicated in the guidance and migration of axons, myoblasts, and leukocytes in vertebrates. A deleted form of the gene, which mimics a naturally occurring, tumor-associated human homozygous deletion of exon 2 of DUTT1/ROBO1, was introduced into the mouse germ line. Mice homozygous for this targeted mutation, which eliminates the first Ig domain of Dutt1/Robo1, frequently die at birth of respiratory failure because of delayed lung maturation. Lungs from these mice have reduced air spaces and increased mesenchyme, features that are present some days before birth. Survivors acquire extensive bronchial epithelial abnormalities including hyperplasia, providing evidence of a functional relationship between a 3p gene and the development of bronchial abnormalities associated with early lung cancer.

Rabbitts TH, Appert A, Chung G, Collins EC, Drynan L, Forster A, Lobato MN, McCormack MP, Pannell R, Spandidos A et al. 2001. Mouse models of human chromosomal translocations and approaches to cancer therapy. Blood Cells Mol Dis, 27 (1), pp. 249-259. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cancer arises because of genetic changes in somatic cells, eventually giving rise to overt malignancy. Principle among genetic changes found in tumor cells are chromosomal translocations which give rise to fusion genes or enforced oncogene expression. These mutations are tumor-specific and result in production of tumor-specific mRNAs and proteins and are attractive targets for therapy. Also, in acute leukemias, many of these molecules are transcription regulators which involve cell-type-specific complexes, offering an alternative therapy via interfering with protein-protein interaction. We are studying these various features of tumor cells to evaluate new therapeutic methods. We describe a mouse model of de novo chromosomal translocations using the Cre-loxP system in which interchromosomal recombination occurs between the Mll and Af9 genes. We are also developing other in vivo methods designed, like the Cre-loxP system, to emulate the effects of these chromosomal abnormalities in human tumors. In addition, we describe new technologies to facilitate the intracellular targeting of fusion mRNAs and proteins resulting from such chromosomal translocations. These include a masked antisense RNA method with the ability to discriminate between closely related RNA targets and the selection and use of intracellular antibodies to bind to target proteins in vivo and cause cell death. These approaches should also be adaptable to targeting point mutations or to differentially expressed tumor-associated proteins. We hope to develop therapeutic approaches for use in cancer therapy after testing their efficacy in our mouse models of human cancer.

Drynan LF, Hamilton TL, Rabbitts TH. 2001. T cell tumorigenesis in Lmo2 transgenic mice is independent of V-D-J recombinase activity. Oncogene, 20 (32), pp. 4412-4415. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LMO2 gene is involved in T-cell acute leukaemia (T-ALL) in children with chromosomal translocations t(11;14)(p13;q11) or (7;11)(q35;p13). Transgenic expression of Lmo2 in T cells results in clonal tumours with long latency indicating that mutations in other genes are required for the development of overt tumours. RAG V-D-J recombinase can mediate genetic transposition and thus might create the secondary mutations necessary for T-ALL. Tumour development was compared in Lmo2 transgenic mice in the presence or absence of the Rag1 gene. No difference was observed in the rate of tumour formation nor in tumour histology in Lmo2-transgenic mice with or without Rag1. We conclude that, in this model, RAG recombinase is not a major mediator of mutations needed for T cell tumorigenesis and that antigen binding to alpha-beta or to gamma-delta T cell receptor does not play a role in tumorigenesis. The driving force behind the mutational process involved in this transgenic model remains obscure.

Collins EC, Pannell R, Simpson EM, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 2000. Inter-chromosomal recombination of Mll and Af9 genes mediated by cre-loxP in mouse development. EMBO Rep, 1 (2), pp. 127-132. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal translocations are crucial events in the aetiology of many leukaemias, lymphomas and sarcomas, resulting in enforced oncogene expression or the creation of novel fusion genes. The study of the biological outcome of such events ideally requires recapitulation of the tissue specificity and timing of the chromosomal translocation itself. We have used the Cre-loxP system of phage P1 to induce de novo Mll-Af9 chromosomal recombination during mouse development. loxP sites were introduced into the Mll and Af9 genes on chromosomes 9 and 4, respectively, and mice carrying these alleles were crossed with mice expressing Cre recombinase. A resulting Mll-Af9 fusion gene was detected whose transcription and splicing were verified. Thus, programmed interchromosomal recombination can be achieved in mice. This approach should allow the design of mouse models of tumorigenesis with greater biological relevance than those available at present.

Tse E, Rabbitts TH. 2000. Intracellular antibody-caspase-mediated cell killing: an approach for application in cancer therapy. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 97 (22), pp. 12266-12271. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antibodies have been expressed inside cells in an attempt to ablate the function of oncogene products. To make intracellular antibodies more generally applicable and effective in cancer therapy, we have devised a method in which programmed cell death or apoptosis can be triggered by specific antibody-antigen interaction. When intracellular antibodies are linked to caspase 3, the "executioner" in the apoptosis pathway, and bind to the target antigen, the caspase 3 moieties are self-activated and thereby induce cell killing. We have used this strategy in a model system with two pairs of intracellular antibodies and antigens. In vivo coexpression of an antibody-caspase 3 fusion with its antigenic target induced apoptosis that was specific for antibody, antigen, and active caspase 3. Moreover, the antibody-caspase 3 fusion protein was not toxic to cells in the absence of antigen. Therefore, intracellular antibody-mediated apoptosis should be useful as a specific therapeutic approach for the treatment of cancers, a situation where target cell killing is required.

Stocks MR, Rabbitts TH. 2000. Masked antisense: a molecular configuration for discriminating similar RNA targets. EMBO Rep, 1 (1), pp. 59-64. | Show Abstract | Read more

Antisense technology has great potential for the control of RNA expression, but there remain few successful applications of the technology. Expressed antisense RNA can effectively down-regulate expression of a gene over long periods, but cannot differentiate partly identical sequences, such as the mRNA of fusion genes or those with point mutants. We have designed a structured form of expressed antisense, which can discriminate between highly similar mRNA molecules. These 'masked' antisense RNAs have most of the antisense sequence sequestered within duplex elements, leaving a short single-stranded region to initiate binding to target RNA. After contacting the correct target, the structured RNA can unravel, releasing the masked antisense region to form a stable duplex with the mRNA. We demonstrate that suitable masked antisense RNA can discriminate between the two forms of BCR-ABL mRNA that result from the Philadelphia chromosomal translocations, as well as discriminating the normal BCR and ABL mRNA.

Warren AJ, Bravo J, Williams RL, Rabbitts TH. 2000. Structural basis for the heterodimeric interaction between the acute leukaemia-associated transcription factors AML1 and CBFbeta. EMBO J, 19 (12), pp. 3004-3015. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mutations in the genes encoding the interacting proteins AML1 and CBFbeta are the most common genetic abnormalities in acute leukaemia, and congenital mutations in the related AML3 gene are associated with disorders of osteogenesis. Furthermore, the interaction of AML1 with CBFbeta is essential for haematopoiesis. We report the 2.6 A resolution crystal structure of the complex between the AML1 Runt domain and CBFbeta, which represents a paradigm for the mode of interaction of this highly conserved family of transcription factors. The structure demonstrates that point mutations associated with cleidocranial dysplasia map to the conserved heterodimer interface, suggesting a role for CBFbeta in osteogenesis, and reveals a potential protein interaction platform composed of conserved negatively charged residues on the surface of CBFbeta.

Yamada Y, Pannell R, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 2000. The oncogenic LIM-only transcription factor Lmo2 regulates angiogenesis but not vasculogenesis in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 97 (1), pp. 320-324. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LMO2 gene is activated by chromosomal translocations in human T cell acute leukemias, but in mouse embryogenesis, Lmo2 is essential for initiation of yolk sac and definitive hematopoiesis. The LMO2 protein comprises two LIM-zinc-finger-like protein interaction modules and functions by interaction with specific partners in DNA-binding transcription complexes. We have now investigated the role of Lmo2-associated transcription complexes in the formation of the vascular system by following the fate of Lmo2-null embryonic stem (ES) cells in mouse chimeras. Lmo2 is expressed in vascular endothelium, and Lmo2-null ES cells contributed to the capillary network normally until around embryonic day 9. However, after this time, marked disorganization of the vascular system was observed in those chimeric mice that have a high contribution of Lmo2-null ES cells. Moreover, Lmo2-null ES cells do not contribute to endothelial cells of large vessel walls of surviving chimeric mice after embryonic day 10. These results show that Lmo2 is not needed for de novo capillary formation from mesoderm but is necessary for angiogenic remodeling of the existing capillary network into mature vasculature. Thus, Lmo2-mediated transcription complexes not only regulate distinct phases of hematopoiesis but also angiogenesis, presumably by Lmo2 interacting with distinct partners in the different settings.

Bucher K, Sofroniew MV, Pannell R, Impey H, Smith AJ, Torres EM, Dunnett SB, Jin Y, Baer R, Rabbitts TH. 2000. The T cell oncogene Tal2 is necessary for normal development of the mouse brain. Dev Biol, 227 (2), pp. 533-544. | Show Abstract | Read more

Transcription factors are commonly involved in leukemia by activation through chromosomal translocations and normally function in cell type(s) that differ from that of the tumor. TAL2 is a member of a basic helix-loop-helix gene family specifically involved in T cell leukemogenesis. Null mutations of Tal2 have been made in mice to determine its function during development. Tal2 null mutant mice show no obvious defects of hematopoiesis. During embryogenesis, Tal2 expression is restricted to the developing midbrain, dorsal diencephalon, and rostroventral diencephalic/telencephalic boundary, partly along presumptive developing fiber tracts. The null mutant mice are viable at birth but growth become progressively retarded and they do not survive to reproductive age. Tal2-deficient mice show a distinct dysgenesis of the midbrain tectum. Due to loss of superficial gray and optical layers, the superior colliculus is reduced in size and the inferior colliculus is abnormally rounded and protruding. Death is most likely due to progressive hydrocephalus which appears to be caused by obstruction of the foramen of Monro (the connection between the ventricles of the forebrain). Thus, in addition to its oncogenicity when ectopically expressed, Tal2 normally plays a pivotal role in brain development and without this gene, mice cannot survive to maturity.

Dobson CL, Warren AJ, Pannell R, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 2000. Tumorigenesis in mice with a fusion of the leukaemia oncogene Mll and the bacterial lacZ gene. EMBO J, 19 (5), pp. 843-851. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many different chromosomal translocations occur in man at chromosome 11q23 in acute leukaemias. Molecular analyses revealed that the MLL gene (also called ALL-1, HRX or HTRX) is broken by the translocations, causing fusion with genes from other chromosomes. The diversity of MLL fusion partners poses a dilemma about the function of the fusion proteins in tumour development. The consequence of MLL truncation and fusion has been analysed by joining exon 8 of Mll with the bacterial lacZ gene using homologous recombination in mouse embryonic stem cells. We show that this fusion is sufficient to cause embryonic stem cell-derived acute leukaemias in chimeric mice, and these tumours occur with long latency compared with those found in MLL-Af9 chimeric mice. These findings indicate that an MLL fusion protein can contribute to tumorigenesis, even if the fusion partner has no known pathogenic role. Thus, truncation and fusion of MLL can be sufficient for tumorigenesis, regardless of the fusion partner.

Tse E, Grutz G, Garner AA, Ramsey Y, Carter NP, Copeland N, Gilbert DJ, Jenkins NA, Agulnick A, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1999. Characterization of the Lmo4 gene encoding a LIM-only protein: genomic organization and comparative chromosomal mapping. Mamm Genome, 10 (11), pp. 1089-1094. | Show Abstract | Read more

LIM-only (LMO) proteins are transcription regulators that function by mediating protein-protein interaction and include the T cell oncogenes encoding LMO1 and LMO2. The oncogenic functions of LMO1 and LMO2 are thought to be mediated by interaction with LDB1 since they form a multimeric protein complex(es). A new member of the Lmo family, Lmo4, has also recently been identified via its interaction with Ldb1. Sequence analysis of the mouse Lmo4 gene shows that it spans about 18 kb and consists of at least six exons, including two alternatively spliced 5' exons. Unlike Lmo1, the two 5' exons of Lmo4 do not encode protein. Comparison of the Lmo4 gene structure with the other LMO family members shows the exon structure of Lmo4 differs in the position of exon junctions encoding the second LIM domain and in a novel exon-intron junction at the penultimate codon of the gene. Lmo4 is thus the least conserved known member of the LIM-only family in both nucleotide sequence and exon structure. Physical mapping of the Lmo4/LMO4 genes has shown mouse Lmo4 is located on Chromosome (Chr) 3 and human LMO4 on Chr 1p22.3. This chromosome location is of interest as it occurs in a region that is deleted in a number of human cancers, indicating a possible role of LMO4 in tumorigenesis, like its relatives LMO1 and LMO2.

Visintin M, Tse E, Axelson H, Rabbitts TH, Cattaneo A. 1999. Selection of antibodies for intracellular function using a two-hybrid in vivo system. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 96 (21), pp. 11723-11728. | Show Abstract | Read more

Expression of antibodies inside cells has been used successfully to ablate protein function. This finding suggests that the technology should have an impact on disease treatment and in functional genomics where proteins of unknown function are predicted from genomic sequences. A major hindrance is the paucity of antibodies that function in eukaryotic cells, presumably because the antibodies fold incorrectly in the cytoplasm. To overcome this problem, we have developed an in vivo assay for functional intracellular antibodies using a two-hybrid approach. In this assay, antibody, as single-chain Fv (scFv) linked to a transcriptional transactivation domain, can interact with a target antigen, linked to a LexA-DNA binding domain, and thereby activate a reporter gene. We find that several characterized antibodies can bind their target antigen in eukaryotic cells in this two-hybrid format, and we have been able to isolate intracellular binders from among sets of scFv that can bind antigen in vitro. Furthermore, we show a model selection in which a single scFv was isolated from a mixture of half a million clones, indicating that this is a robust procedure that should facilitate capture of antibody specificities from complex mixtures. The approach can provide the basis for de novo selection of intracellular scFv from libraries, such as those made from spleen RNA after immunization with antigen, for intracellular analysis of protein function based only on genomic or cDNA sequences.

Dobson CL, Warren AJ, Pannell R, Forster A, Lavenir I, Corral J, Smith AJ, Rabbitts TH. 1999. The mll-AF9 gene fusion in mice controls myeloproliferation and specifies acute myeloid leukaemogenesis. EMBO J, 18 (13), pp. 3564-3574. | Show Abstract | Read more

The MLL gene from human chromosome 11q23 is involved in >30 different chromosomal translocations resulting in a plethora of different MLL fusion proteins. Each of these tends to associate with a specific leukaemia type, for example, MLL-AF9 is found mainly in acute myeloid leukaemia. We have studied the role of the Mll-AF9 gene fusion made in mouse embryonic stem cells by an homologous recombination knock-in. Acute leukaemias developed in heterozygous mice carrying this fusion as well as in chimeric mice. As with human chromosomal translocation t(9;11), the majority of cases were acute myeloid leukaemias (AMLs) involving immature myeloblasts, but a minority were acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The AMLs were preceded by effects on haematopoietic differentiation involving a myeloproliferation resulting in accumulation of Mac-1/Gr-1 double-positive mature myeloid cells in bone marrow as early as 6 days after birth. Therefore, non-malignant expansion of myeloid precursors is the first stage of Mll-AF9-mediated leukaemia followed by accumulation of malignant cells in bone marrow and other tissues. Thus, the late onset of overt tumours suggests that secondary tumorigenic mutations are necessary for malignancy associated with MLL-AF9 gene fusion and that myeloproliferation provides the pool of cells in which such events can occur.

Greene WK, Baker E, Rabbitts TH, Kees UR. 1999. Genomic structure, tissue expression and chromosomal location of the LIM-only gene, SLIM1. Gene, 232 (2), pp. 203-207. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human SLIM1 is a recently described gene of the LIM-only class encoding four and a half tandemly repeated LIM domains. LIM domains are double zinc finger structures which provide an interface for protein/protein interactions and are conserved in a variety of nuclear and cytoplasmic factors important in cell fate determination and cellular regulation. Here we report the structural organization, expression pattern and chromosomal localization of the human SLIM1 gene. SLIM1 was found to contain at least five exons with all four introns disrupting the coding region at a similar position relative to the respective complete LIM domains. Northern blot analysis confirmed strikingly high expression of SLIM1 in skeletal muscle and heart, with much lower expression observed in several other tissues including colon, small intestine and prostate. The SLIM1 gene was assigned to human chromosome Xq26 using fluorescence in situ hybridization.

Rabbitts TH, Bucher K, Chung G, Grutz G, Warren A, Yamada Y. 1999. The effect of chromosomal translocations in acute leukemias: the LMO2 paradigm in transcription and development. Cancer Res, 59 (7 Suppl), pp. 1794s-1798s. | Show Abstract

Two general features have emerged about genes that are activated after chromosomal translocations in acute forms of cancer. The protein products of these genes are transcription regulators and are involved in developmental processes, and it seems that the subversion of these normal functions accounts for their role in tumorigenesis. The features of the LMO family of genes, which encode LIM-domain proteins involved in T-cell acute leukemia through chromosomal translocations, typify these abnormal functions in tumorigenesis. For example, the LMO2 protein is involved in the formation of multimeric DNA-binding complexes, which may vary in composition at different stages of hematopoiesis and function to control differentiation of specific lineages. In T cells, enforced expression of Lmo2 causes aberrant protein complex formation that primarily seems to hinder the T-cell differentiation program. These observations underscore the conclusion that protein-protein interaction (in this case, through the LIM domain) is a key determinant in tumorigenesis. Furthermore, the study of chromosomal translocations as naturally occurring mutations has been informative about mechanisms in hematopoiesis as well as in tumor etiology.

Rabbitts TH. 1999. Of methods and mapping. Nat Med, 5 (1), pp. 24-25. | Read more

Rabbitts TH. 1999. Perspective: chromosomal translocations can affect genes controlling gene expression and differentiation--why are these functions targeted? J Pathol, 187 (1), pp. 39-42. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal translocations are important aetiological factors in many human cancers. These aberrant chromosomes cause enforced expression of oncogenes located near the breakpoints or results in tumour-specific fusion proteins. Among the characteristics which influence the tumourigenic effect, it is observed that the genes at translocation junctions are often transcription factors and often normally involved in developmental processes. Furthermore, protein-protein interactions are key elements in the mechanism by which the translocation gene products exert their pathogenic effects. In this review some of these salient features are discussed and generalizations are suggested which may be applicable to the influence of chromosomal translocations on acute forms of cancer.

Greene WK, Bahn S, Masson N, Rabbitts TH. 1998. The T-cell oncogenic protein HOX11 activates Aldh1 expression in NIH 3T3 cells but represses its expression in mouse spleen development. Mol Cell Biol, 18 (12), pp. 7030-7037. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hox11 is a homeobox gene essential for spleen formation in mice, since atrophy of the anlage of a developing spleen occurs in early embryonic development in Hox11 null mice. HOX11 is also expressed in a subset of T-cell acute leukemias after specific chromosomal translocations. Since the protein has a homeodomain and can activate transcription, it probably exerts at least some of its effects in vivo by regulation of target genes. Representational difference analysis has been used to isolate cDNA clones corresponding to mRNA species activated following stable expression of HOX11 in NIH 3T3 cells. The gene encoding the retinoic acid-synthesizing enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (Aldh1), initially called Hdg-1, was found to be ectopically activated by HOX11 in this system. Study of Aldh1 gene expression during spleen development showed that the presence of Aldh1 mRNA inversely correlated with Hox11. Hox11 null mouse embryos have elevated Aldh1 mRNA in spleen primordia prior to atrophy, while Aldh1 seems to be repressed by Hox11 during organogenesis of the spleens of wild-type mice. This result suggests that expression of Aldh1 protein is negatively regulated by Hox11 and that abnormal expression of Aldh1 in Hox11 null mice may cause loss of splenic precursor cells by aberrant retinoic acid metabolism.

Rabbitts TH. 1998. LMO T-cell translocation oncogenes typify genes activated by chromosomal translocations that alter transcription and developmental processes. Genes Dev, 12 (17), pp. 2651-2657. | Read more

Grütz GG, Bucher K, Lavenir I, Larson T, Larson R, Rabbitts TH. 1998. The oncogenic T cell LIM-protein Lmo2 forms part of a DNA-binding complex specifically in immature T cells. EMBO J, 17 (16), pp. 4594-4605. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LIM-only protein LMO2 is expressed aberrantly in acute T-cell leukaemias as a result of the chromosomal translocations t(11;14) (p13;q11) or t(7;11) (q35;p13). In a transgenic model of tumorigenesis by Lmo2, T-cell acute leukaemias arise after an asymptomatic phase in which an accumulation of immature CD4(-) CD8(-) double negative thymocytes occurs. Possible molecular mechanisms underlying these effects have been investigated in T cells from Lmo2 transgenic mice. Isolation of DNA-binding sites by CASTing and band shift assays demonstrates the presence of an oligomeric complex involving Lmo2 which can bind to a bipartite DNA motif comprising two E-box sequences approximately 10 bp apart, which is distinct from that found in erythroid cells. This complex occurs in T-cell tumours and it is restricted to the immature CD4(- )CD8(-) thymocyte subset in asymptomatic transgenic mice. Thus, ectopic expression of Lmo2 by transgenesis, or by chromosomal translocations in humans, may result in the aberrant protein interactions causing abnormal regulation of gene expression, resulting in a blockage of T-cell differentiation and providing precursor cells for overt tumour formation.

Masson N, Greene WK, Rabbitts TH. 1998. Optimal activation of an endogenous gene by HOX11 requires the NH2-terminal 50 amino acids. Mol Cell Biol, 18 (6), pp. 3502-3508. | Show Abstract | Read more

The HOX11 homeobox gene was first identified through studies of the t(7;10) and t(10;14) chromosomal translocations of acute T-cell leukemia. In addition, analysis of Hox11-/- mice has demonstrated a critical role for this gene in murine spleen development. A possible mode of in vivo function for the HOX11 protein in these two situations is regulation of target genes following DNA binding via the homeodomain, but little is known about how HOX11 regulates transcription in vivo. By performing transcriptional studies in yeast and mammalian one-hybrid systems, a modular transcriptional transactivation region at the NH2 terminus of HOX11 has been functionally dissected from other parts of the protein. This NH2-terminal region includes the previously identified short conserved Hep motif, which itself activates transcription in one-hybrid assays. The importance of the NH2-terminal region for the function of HOX11 in vivo was assayed by activating a HOX11-dependent gene in NIH 3T3 cells. Activation of this gene was found to be dependent upon an intact homeodomain in HOX11, but maximal activation was obtained only when the NH2-terminal 50 amino acids of HOX11 was present, showing that this region of HOX11 is important for in vivo transcriptional control of a chromosomal target gene.

Yamada Y, Warren AJ, Dobson C, Forster A, Pannell R, Rabbitts TH. 1998. The T cell leukemia LIM protein Lmo2 is necessary for adult mouse hematopoiesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 95 (7), pp. 3890-3895. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LIM-finger protein Lmo2, which is activated in T cell leukemias by chromosomal translocations, is required for yolk sac erythropoiesis. Because Lmo2 null mutant mice die at embryonic day 9-10, it prevents an assessment of a role in other stages of hematopoiesis. We have now studied the hematopoietic contribution of homozygous mutant Lmo2 -/- mouse embryonic stem cells and found that Lmo2 -/- cells do not contribute to any hematopoietic lineage in adult chimeric mice, but reintroduction of an Lmo2-expression vector rescues the ability of Lmo2 null embryonic stem cells to contribute to all lineages tested. This disruption of hematopoiesis probably occurs because interaction of Lmo2 protein with factors such as Tal1/Scl is precluded. Thus, Lmo2 is necessary for early stages of hematopoiesis, and the Lmo2 master gene encodes a protein that has a central and crucial role in the hematopoietic development.

Rabbitts TH. 1998. The clinical significance of fusion oncogenes in cancer. N Engl J Med, 338 (3), pp. 192-194. | Read more

Grutz G, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1998. Identification of the LMO4 gene encoding an interaction partner of the LIM-binding protein LDB1/NLI1: a candidate for displacement by LMO proteins in T cell acute leukaemia. Oncogene, 17 (21), pp. 2799-2803. | Show Abstract | Read more

The T cell oncogenes LMO1 and LMO2 are activated by distinct chromosomal translocations in childhood T cell acute leukaemias. Transgenic mouse models of this disease demonstrate that enforced expression of Lmo1 and Lmo2 cause T cell leukaemias with long latency and that Lmo2 expression leads to an inhibition of the T cell differentiation programme, prior to overt disease. These functions appear to be partly mediated by interaction of LMO1 or LMO2 with the LIM-binding protein LDB1/ NLI1. We have now identified a new member of the Lmo family, designated Lmo4, via its interaction with Ldb1. Lmo4 is widely expressed in mouse tissues, including adult thymus (mainly CD4, CD8-double positive T cells) and embryonic thymus (mainly CD4, CD8-double negative T cells). These characteristics imply that Ldb1-Lmo4 interaction may function in the T cell developmental programme and that enforced expression of LMO1 or LMO2 by chromosomal translocations or transgenesis may displace Lmo4 from this complex and thereby influence T cell differentiation prior to T cell tumour occurrence.

Valge-Archer V, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1998. The LMO1 and LDB1 proteins interact in human T cell acute leukaemia with the chromosomal translocation t(11;14)(p15;q11). Oncogene, 17 (24), pp. 3199-3202. | Show Abstract | Read more

The ectopic expression of LMO1 or LMO2 in T cell acute leukaemias resulting from chromosomal translocations t(11;14)(p15;qll) or t(11;14)(p13;q11) respectively in a causal factor in tumorigenesis. LMO1 has been found as a heterodimer with a 46 Kd protein in a T cell line derived from a childhood T-acute leukaemia. This 46 Kd protein is the LIM-binding protein LDB1/NLI. The latter is a phosphoprotein and binds to LMO1 in its phosphorylated state and essentially all the LMO1 and LDB1 protein in the T cell line is part of the complex. Therefore, the LMO1-LDB1 interaction is likely to be involved in tumorigenesis after LMO1 is ectopically expressed following chromosomal translocation in T cells prior to development of acute leukaemias.

Wadman IA, Osada H, Grütz GG, Agulnick AD, Westphal H, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1997. The LIM-only protein Lmo2 is a bridging molecule assembling an erythroid, DNA-binding complex which includes the TAL1, E47, GATA-1 and Ldb1/NLI proteins. EMBO J, 16 (11), pp. 3145-3157. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LIM-only protein Lmo2, activated by chromosomal translocations in T-cell leukaemias, is normally expressed in haematopoiesis. It interacts with TAL1 and GATA-1 proteins, but the function of the interaction is unexplained. We now show that in erythroid cells Lmo2 forms a novel DNA-binding complex, with GATA-1, TAL1 and E2A, and the recently identified LIM-binding protein Ldb1/NLI. This oligomeric complex binds to a unique, bipartite DNA motif comprising an E-box, CAGGTG, followed approximately 9 bp downstream by a GATA site. In vivo assembly of the DNA-binding complex requires interaction of all five proteins and establishes a transcriptional transactivating complex. These data demonstrate one function for the LIM-binding protein Ldb1 and establish a function for the LIM-only protein Lmo2 as an obligatory component of an oligomeric, DNA-binding complex which may play a role in haematopoiesis.

Rabbitts TH. 1997. Chromosomal breakpoints hit the spot. Nat Med, 3 (5), pp. 496-497. | Read more

Osada H, Grutz GG, Axelson H, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1997. LIM-only protein Lmo2 forms a protein complex with erythroid transcription factor GATA-1. Leukemia, 11 Suppl 3 pp. 307-312. | Show Abstract

The LIM-only protein Lmo2, originally identified as an oncogenic protein in human T cell leukemia, is essential for erythropoiesis. A possible role for Lmo2 in transcription during erythropoiesis has been investigated. Direct interaction of Lmo2 was observed in vitro and in vivo with the zinc finger transcription factor GATA-1, as well as with the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor Tall. By using mammalian two-hybrid analysis, E47/Tall/Lmo2/GATA-1 protein complex could be demonstrated. Thus, a molecular link exists between three proteins crucial for erythropoiesis. This data suggest that variations in amounts of complexes involving Lmo2, Tall, and GATA-1 could be important for erythroid differentiation.

Aman P, Panagopoulos I, Lassen C, Fioretos T, Mencinger M, Toresson H, Höglund M, Forster A, Rabbitts TH, Ron D et al. 1996. Expression patterns of the human sarcoma-associated genes FUS and EWS and the genomic structure of FUS. Genomics, 37 (1), pp. 1-8. | Show Abstract | Read more

FUS (TLS) was first identified as the 5'-part of a fusion gene with CHOP (GADD153, DDIT3) in myxoid liposarcomas with t(12; 16)(q13; p11). Homologies were found with the EWS oncogene, which is rearranged in Ewing sarcomas and other neoplasias. The genomic structure of FUS shows extensive similarities with that of EWS, but the exon/intron structures differ in the 5' parts, and overall FUS is smaller than EWS. Exon 3 of FUS corresponds to exons 3 and 4 in EWS. FUS exons 4-6 correspond to EWS exons 5-8. Exons 7 to 15 of FUS are very similar to those in EWS, although the EWS exons are larger than the corresponding FUS exons. FUS and EWS were expressed in all tissues investigated. The transcripts were stable within the 160-min half-life experiments. No or little variation in FUS or EWS expression was seen when resting lymphocytes were activated. These observations indicate that FUS and EWS belong to the housekeeping type of genes. This view is supported by the presence of the housekeeping gene type of promoter region in both genes.

Corral J, Lavenir I, Impey H, Warren AJ, Forster A, Larson TA, Bell S, McKenzie AN, King G, Rabbitts TH. 1996. An Mll-AF9 fusion gene made by homologous recombination causes acute leukemia in chimeric mice: a method to create fusion oncogenes. Cell, 85 (6), pp. 853-861. | Show Abstract | Read more

Homologous recombination in embryonal stem cells has been used to produce a fusion oncogene, thereby mimicking chromosomal translocations that frequently result in formation of tumor-specific fusion oncogenes in human malignancies. AF9 sequences were fused into the mouse Mll gene so that expression of the Mll-AF9 fusion gene occurred from endogenous Mll transcription control elements, as in t(9;11) found in human leukemias. Chimeric mice carrying the fusion gene developed tumors, which were restricted to acute myeloid leukemias despite the widespread activity of the Mll promoter. Onset of perceptible disease was preceded by expansion of ES cell derivatives in peripheral blood. This novel use of homologous recombination formally proves that chromosomal translocations contribute to malignancy and provides a general strategy to create fusion oncogenes for studying their role in tumorigenesis.

Larson RC, Lavenir I, Larson TA, Baer R, Warren AJ, Wadman I, Nottage K, Rabbitts TH. 1996. Protein dimerization between Lmo2 (Rbtn2) and Tal1 alters thymocyte development and potentiates T cell tumorigenesis in transgenic mice. EMBO J, 15 (5), pp. 1021-1027. | Show Abstract

The LMO2 and TAL1 genes were first identified via chromosomal translocations and later found to encode proteins that interact during normal erythroid development. Some T cell leukaemia patients have chromosomal abnormalities involving both genes, implying that LMO2 and TAL1 act synergistically to promote tumorigenesis after their inappropriate co-expression. To test this hypothesis, transgenic mice were made which co-express Lmo2 and Tal1 genes in T cells. Dimers of Lmo2 and Tal1 proteins were formed in thymocytes of double but not single transgenic mice. Furthermore, thymuses of double transgenic mice were almost completely populated by immature T cells from birth, and these mice develop T cell tumours approximately 3 months earlier than those with only the Lmo2 transgene. Thus interaction between these two proteins can alter T cell development and potentiate tumorigenesis. The data also provide formal proof that TAL1 is an oncogene, apparently acting as a tumour promoter in this system.

Osada H, Grutz G, Axelson H, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1995. Association of erythroid transcription factors: complexes involving the LIM protein RBTN2 and the zinc-finger protein GATA1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 92 (21), pp. 9585-9589. | Show Abstract | Read more

The RBTN2 LIM-domain protein, originally identified as an oncogenic protein in human T-cell leukemia, is essential for erythropoiesis. A possible role for RBTN2 in transcription during erythropoiesis has been investigated. Direct interaction of the RBTN2 protein was observed in vivo and in vitro with the GATA1 or -2 zinc-finger transcription factors, as well as with the basic helix-loop-helix protein TAL1. By using mammalian two-hybrid analysis, complexes involving RBTN2, TAL1, and GATA1, together with E47, the basic helix-loop-helix heterodimerization partner of TAL1, could be demonstrated. Thus, a molecular link exists between three proteins crucial for erythropoiesis, and the data suggest that variations in amounts of complexes involving RBTN2, TAL1, and GATA1 could be important for erythroid differentiation.

Tomlinson IM, Cook GP, Walter G, Carter NP, Riethman H, Buluwela L, Rabbitts TH, Winter G. 1995. A complete map of the human immunoglobulin VH locus. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 764 (1), pp. 43-46. | Read more

Larson RC, Osada H, Larson TA, Lavenir I, Rabbitts TH. 1995. The oncogenic LIM protein Rbtn2 causes thymic developmental aberrations that precede malignancy in transgenic mice. Oncogene, 11 (5), pp. 853-862. | Show Abstract

RBTN2 is activated by the chromosomal translocation t(11;14) (P13;p11) in some T cell leukaemias. Histologically similar T cell tumours develop with long latency in transgenic mice when either CD2 or thy1.1 promoters control rbtn2 expression. During the asymptomatic period, perturbation of T cell differentiation occurs in the thymus. The major anomalies present during this phase are an increase in the percentage of large thymocytes lacking CD4 and CD8 markers and also of small thymocytes express both the T cell marker CD3 and the B cell-specific form of CD45. These abnormal T cell populations can be clonal and thus a primary result of aberrant expression of the LIM-protein Rbtn2 is alteration of T cell differentiation preceding overt malignancy. These data provide a biological explanation for the role of Rbtn2 in tumorigenesis and presumably RBTN2 expression in T cells after the translocation t(11;14) in children has the same effect.

Sánchez-García I, Axelson H, Rabbitts TH. 1995. Functional diversity of LIM proteins: amino-terminal activation domains in the oncogenic proteins RBTN1 and RBTN2. Oncogene, 10 (7), pp. 1301-1306. | Show Abstract

The RBTN1 and RBTN2 genes are activated by distinct translocations involving chromosome 11 in some T cell acute leukaemias. The RBTN proteins belong to the LIM family which comprises proteins with one, two or three cysteine-rich LIM domains, sometimes together with homeodomains or protein kinase domains. The RBTN1 and RBTN2 proteins comprise only tandem LIM domains. We report that RBTN1 and RBTN2 proteins are capable of supporting transcriptional transactivation of specific reporter genes in transfection assays. The results, using intact proteins or fusions with the homeodomain of the heterologous protein Isl-1, show that this transcriptional activation ability resides in the NH2-terminal parts of both proteins. The use of yeast assays with RBTN2 shows that RBTN2 forms homodimers and that the NH2-terminal 27 amino acids are sufficient to facilitate transcriptional transactivation. These data expand the functional diversity of the LIM-domain protein family and they augment the previously defined relationship between chromosomal translocations and transcriptional activation.

Dear TN, Colledge WH, Carlton MB, Lavenir I, Larson T, Smith AJ, Warren AJ, Evans MJ, Sofroniew MV, Rabbitts TH. 1995. The Hox11 gene is essential for cell survival during spleen development. Development, 121 (9), pp. 2909-2915. | Show Abstract

The HOX11 homeobox gene was identified via the translocation t(10;14) in T cell leukaemia. To determine the function of this gene in mice, null mutations were made using homologous recombination in ES cells to incorporate lacZ into the hox11 transcription unit. Production of beta-galactosidase from the recombinant hox11 allele in +/- mutants allowed identification of sites of hox11 expression which included the developing spleen. Newborn hox11 -/- mice exhibit asplenia. Spleen formation commences normally at E11.5 in hox11 -/- mutant embryos but the spleen anlage undergoes rapid and complete resorption between E12.5 and E13.5. Dying spleen cells exhibit molecular features of apoptosis, suggesting that programmed cell death is initiated at this stage of organ development in the absence of hox11 protein. Thus hox11 is not required to initiate spleen development but is essential for the survival of splenic precursors during organogenesis. This function for hox11 suggests that enhanced cell survival may result from the t(10;14) which activates HOX11 in T cell leukaemias, further strengthening the association between oncogene-induced cell survival and tumorigenesis.

Larson RC, Fisch P, Larson TA, Lavenir I, Langford T, King G, Rabbitts TH. 1994. T cell tumours of disparate phenotype in mice transgenic for Rbtn-2. Oncogene, 9 (12), pp. 3675-3681. | Show Abstract

RBTN2 is a LIM domain protein which can be activated by the translocation t(11;14)(p13;q11) in childhood T cell acute leukaemia. Transgenic mice were examined in which rbtn2 protein is expressed in the T cell lineage. An average of 72% of these mice developed T cell tumours before 18 months of age, compared with 9% in transgenic mice expressing the related gene Rbtn-1. Rbtn2-induced tumours first appeared at 5 months of age and were clonal. They displayed a range of phenotypes, the most notable being CD3/CD45R double-positive cells. Tumours expressing either T cell receptor alpha/beta or gamma/delta heterodimers were found. Thus rbtn2 can promote tumours within a range of T cell types and maturities. The latency period before tumour development indicates that secondary events must occur before the onset of overt malignancy.

Rabbitts TH. 1994. Chromosomal translocations in human cancer. Nature, 372 (6502), pp. 143-149. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal abnormalities in tumours were recognized at the end of the last century but their significance has only recently become clear. Distinct translocations in leukaemias and in solid tumours lead to the activation of proto-oncogene products or, more commonly, creation of tumour-specific fusion proteins. The proteins in both categories are often transcription factors and thus disruption of transcriptional control plays a major role in the aetiology of cancer. Fusion proteins formed after chromosomal translocations are common in a range of tumour types; these are unique tumour antigens and are therefore potential targets for therapy design.

Wadman I, Li J, Bash RO, Forster A, Osada H, Rabbitts TH, Baer R. 1994. Specific in vivo association between the bHLH and LIM proteins implicated in human T cell leukemia. EMBO J, 13 (20), pp. 4831-4839. | Show Abstract

The protein products of proto-oncogenes implicated in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia include two distinct families of presumptive transcription factors. RBTN1 and RBTN2 encode highly related proteins that possess cysteine-rich LIM motifs. TAL1, TAL2 and LYL1 encode a unique subgroup of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) proteins that share exceptional homology in their bHLH sequences. We have found that RBTN1 and RBTN2 have the ability to interact with each of the leukemogenic bHLH proteins (TAL1, TAL2 and LYL1). These interactions occur in vivo and appear to be mediated by sequences within the LIM and bHLH domains. The LIM-bHLH interactions are highly specific in that RBTN1 and RBTN2 will associate with TAL1, TAL2 and LYL1, but not with other bHLH proteins, including E12, E47, Id1, NHLH1, AP4, MAX, MYC and MyoD1. Moreover, RBTN1 and RBTN2 can interact with TAL1 polypeptides that exist in assembled bHLH heterodimers (e.g. TAL1-E47), suggesting that the RBTN proteins can influence the functional properties of TAL1. Finally, we have identified a subset of leukemia patients that harbor tumor-specific rearrangements of both their RBTN2 and TAL1 genes. Thus, the activated alleles of these genes may promote leukemia cooperatively, perhaps as a result of bHLH-LIM interactions between their protein products.

Sánchez-García I, Rabbitts TH. 1994. The LIM domain: a new structural motif found in zinc-finger-like proteins. Trends Genet, 10 (9), pp. 315-320. | Show Abstract | Read more

An important new family of proteins has recently been described that carries a novel cysteine-rich zinc-binding domain called the LIM domain. This protein family is present in mammals, amphibians, flies, worms and plants and its main function is in developmental regulation. Although a role in protein-protein interaction seems likely, intriguing similarities to GATA zinc fingers imply that the LIM domain may also be involved in binding to specific nucleic acids.

Valge-Archer VE, Osada H, Warren AJ, Forster A, Li J, Baer R, Rabbitts TH. 1994. The LIM protein RBTN2 and the basic helix-loop-helix protein TAL1 are present in a complex in erythroid cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 91 (18), pp. 8617-8621. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal translocations in T-cell acute leukemias can activate genes encoding putative transcription factors such as the LIM proteins RBTN1 and RBTN2 and the DNA-binding basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor TAL1 associated with T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia. While not expressed in normal T cells, RBTN2 and TAL1 are coexpressed in erythroid cells and are both important for erythroid differentiation. We demonstrate, using anti-RBTN2 and anti-TAL1 antisera, that the LIM protein RBTN2 is not phosphorylated and is complexed with the TAL1 phosphoprotein in the nucleus of erythroid cells. A complex containing both RBTN1 and TAL1 also occurs in a T-cell acute leukemia cell line. Since both RBTN2 and TAL1 are crucial for normal erythropoiesis, these data have important implications for transcription networks therein. Further, since both proteins can be involved in leukemogenesis, these data provide a direct link between proteins activated by chromosomal translocations in T-cell acute leukemia.

Sánchez-García I, Rabbitts TH. 1994. Transcriptional activation by TAL1 and FUS-CHOP proteins expressed in acute malignancies as a result of chromosomal abnormalities. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 91 (17), pp. 7869-7873. | Show Abstract | Read more

Proteins that appear to participate in transcriptional control of gene expression are increasingly implicated in leukemias and malignant solid tumors. We report here that the N-terminal domains of the proteins TAL1 (ectopically activated in T-cell acute leukemias after chromosomal abnormalities caused by V-D-J recombinase error) (V, variable; D, diversity; J, joining) and FUS-CHOP (a liposarcoma tumor-specific fusion protein that is produced as a result of a chromosomal translocation) can function as transcription activators of specific responsive reporter genes. The result with TAL1 provides evidence that transcriptional activation can be mediated by a gene activated by translocation in T-cell acute leukemias. In the case of the liposarcoma, transactivation by the FUS-CHOP protein occurs because the FUS transcriptional activation domain is added to the DNA-binding CHOP protein normally lacking such activity. Therefore, the association of transcriptional activation and DNA-binding elements is a common consequence in proteins activated or newly created as fusion proteins after chromosomal translocations in acute leukemias and in malignant solid tumors.

Sherrington PD, Fisch P, Taylor AM, Rabbitts TH. 1994. Clonal evolution of malignant and non-malignant T cells carrying t(14;14) and t(X;14) in patients with ataxia telangiectasia. Oncogene, 9 (8), pp. 2377-2381. | Show Abstract

People with ataxia telangiectasia (AT) are at a higher than normal risk of T cell leukaemia and often have either non-malignant or malignant T cells with chromosomal abnormalities, typically t(14;14), inversion 14 or more rarely t(X;14). This provides a chance to study the pre-leukaemic phase of the disease. T cells have been studied with either t(14;14)(q11;q32.1) or t(X;14)(q28;q11) from two AT sisters of which the latter developed T cell leukaemia. The telomeric breakpoint of the t(14;14) was cloned and found to occur at 14q32.1 where known tumour-associated breakpoints are located, but the patient remains asymptomatic for leukaemia. Analysis of T cell populations in both patients showed that the cells containing the translocation became oligoclonal with respect to T cell receptor beta rearrangement and complete T cell receptor beta clonality was only established in the patient with t(X;14) by onset of overt disease. Therefore in these chronic diseases, chromosomal translocations can precede T cell receptor rearrangement suggesting a role for these abnormalities as early events of malignant outgrowth.

Fizzotti M, Chen EY, Link MP, Carroll AJ, Foroni L, Rabbitts TH, Crist WM, Clark SS. 1994. Simultaneous expression of RBTN-2 and BCR-ABL oncogenes in a T-ALL with a t(11;14)(p13;q11) and a late-appearing Philadelphia chromosome. Leukemia, 8 (7), pp. 1124-1130. | Show Abstract

Cytogenetic analysis of a pediatric patient with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) revealed a mosaic karyotype, 47,XX,+17,t(11;14)(p13;q11)/47,XX,+17,t(9;22)(q34;q11),t(11;14) (p13;q11). DNA blot analysis was used to examine the break-point within the BCR gene on chromosome 22 and showed that the breakpoint occurred within the 20-kb minor breakpoint cluster region (m-bcr) located within the first intron of the BCR gene. Immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrated that the leukemic cells expressed the P185 BCR-ABL protein tyrosine kinase. P185 BCR-ABL has previously been shown to be expressed in most cases of Ph+ acute leukemia of myeloid and B-progenitor origin. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that P185 can also be expressed in the T-cell lineage. DNA blot hybridization was also used to characterize the t(11;14) translocation. This showed rearrangement on chromosome 11 within the T-ALLbcr region, upstream of the RBTN-2 gene. Polymerase chain reaction revealed the presence of RBTN-2 transcripts in the leukemic cells. Finally, comparison of the T-ALLbcr, BCR-ABL, IGH, TCR beta and gamma gene rearrangements in leukemic cells obtained at the time of diagnosis and at first relapse showed that relapse occurred in a leukemic clone indistinguishable from the major Ph+ clone involved at diagnosis. Together, these data support a multistep pathogenesis in which the Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome translocation appeared subsequent to the +17 and t(11;14) and imparted a growth advantage over the Ph-negative cells that carried these abnormalities.

Warren AJ, Colledge WH, Carlton MB, Evans MJ, Smith AJ, Rabbitts TH. 1994. The oncogenic cysteine-rich LIM domain protein rbtn2 is essential for erythroid development. Cell, 78 (1), pp. 45-57. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LIM domain protein rbtn2 is associated with T cell acute leukemias. We demonstrate that rbtn2 is a nuclear protein expressed in the erythroid lineage in vivo, and using homologous recombination, we show that it is essential for erythroid development in mice. The homozygous rbtn2 null mutation leads to failure of yolk sac erythropoiesis and embryonic lethality around E10.5. Moreover, in vitro differentiation of yolk sac tissue from homozygous mutant mice and sequentially targeted double-mutant ES cells demonstrates a block to erythroid development. This shows a pivotal role for a LIM domain protein in lineage specification during mammalian development and suggests that RBTN2 and GATA-1 are critical at similar stages of erythroid differentiation.

Tomlinson IM, Cook GP, Carter NP, Elaswarapu R, Smith S, Walter G, Buluwela L, Rabbitts TH, Winter G. 1994. Human immunoglobulin VH and D segments on chromosomes 15q11.2 and 16p11.2. Hum Mol Genet, 3 (6), pp. 853-860. | Show Abstract | Read more

In addition to the major human immunoglobulin heavy-chain locus on chromosome 14q32.3, VH and D segments are known to be present on chromosomes 15 and 16. We have now amplified and sequenced 24 such VH segments from somatic cell hybrids and have assigned them to 15q11.2 and 16p11.2 using cosmid and yeast artificial chromosome clones. In addition, we have located a cluster of D segments on 15q11.2, previously thought to be located on 14q32.3. We propose that the segments on chromosome 16 arose by an interchromosomal duplication and identify the corresponding region on chromosome 14. Taken together with the completion of a map of the human VH locus on 14q32.3, the total number of VH segments now identified is 117. We can now account for most, if not all human germ-line VH segments.

Cook GP, Tomlinson IM, Walter G, Riethman H, Carter NP, Buluwela L, Winter G, Rabbitts TH. 1994. A map of the human immunoglobulin VH locus completed by analysis of the telomeric region of chromosome 14q. Nat Genet, 7 (2), pp. 162-168. | Show Abstract | Read more

Analysis of the telomeric region of chromosome 14q has enabled us to complete a map of the immunoglobulin VH locus which accounts for almost all VH segments known to rearrange in B-lymphocytes. The human germline VH repertoire consists of approximately 50 functional VH segments--the exact number depending on the haplotype--spanning 1,100 kilobases upstream of the JH segments. A yeast artificial chromosome used to map these segments was isolated by its ability to provide telomere activity in yeast, suggesting that the VH locus may be located within a few kilobases of the 14q telomere. The limited structural diversity encoded by the functional VH segments demonstrates the importance of combinatorial diversity produced by VDJ joining and the association of heavy and light chains in producing the human antibody repertoire.

Dear TN, Rabbitts TH. 1994. A Drosophila melanogaster homologue of the T-cell oncogene HOX11 localises to a cluster of homeobox genes. Gene, 141 (2), pp. 225-229. | Show Abstract | Read more

The human homeobox gene HOX11 has been identified at the site of a chromosomal translocation in a subset of T-cell acute leukaemias. In the mouse genome, the hox11 family consists of at least three related genes, each of which possesses a highly conserved homeobox. To assist in elucidating the roles of this gene, a homologue was studied from Drosophila melanogaster. This gene, 311, shares similar identity to all three murine family members and contains the threonine residue in helix 3 of the homeodomain characteristic of the Hox11 family. It maps to a cluster of NK-homeobox genes which function in muscle development. Gene 311 exhibits a similar temporal pattern of expression to the NK genes in this cluster. Therefore, 311 may constitute part of a homeobox cluster in which the genes are both co-ordinately regulated and functionally related.

Archer VE, Breton J, Sanchez-Garcia I, Osada H, Forster A, Thomson AJ, Rabbitts TH. 1994. Cysteine-rich LIM domains of LIM-homeodomain and LIM-only proteins contain zinc but not iron. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 91 (1), pp. 316-320. | Show Abstract | Read more

The structure of LIM domains has major implications for transcription because proteins such as Is1-1 contain two LIM domains associated with a homeodomain, and RBTN1/Ttg-1 and RBTN2/Ttg-2 contain two LIM domains but no homeodomain. Conserved cysteine and histidine residues in the LIM domains suggest a metal-binding role. RBTN and Is1-1 LIM proteins have been made in Escherichia coli and insect cell expression systems and their metal content has been determined using atomic absorption spectroscopy and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. LIM proteins expressed in soluble form contain zinc atoms, whereas bacterial inclusion bodies invariably also have Fe-S clusters. The latter are identified as linear [Fe3S4]+ clusters and appear to result from incorrect metal coordination by E. coli. These studies show that RBTN1, RBTN2, and Is1-1 are metalloproteins that contain zinc but not iron and, therefore, that the LIM domain represents a zinc-binding domain.

Sánchez-García I, Rabbitts TH. 1993. LIM domain proteins in leukaemia and development. Semin Cancer Biol, 4 (6), pp. 349-358. | Show Abstract

T cell acute leukaemias involve a number of different classes of oncogenes. A group of such genes is the RBTN family located on chromosomes 11 and 12. Two members of this family, RBTN1/Ttg-1 and RBTN2/Ttg-2, are located near recurring T cell acute lymphocytic leukaemia-associated translocations. Chromosomal translocations to both RBTN1/Ttg-1 and RBTN2/Ttg-2 involve T cell receptor (TCR) genes as result of an erroneous V(D)J joining process. RBTN1/Ttg-1 and RBTN2/Ttg-2 encode related proteins consisting of two cysteine-rich regions called LIM domains. The fact that LIM domains can be found with or without associated homeodomain led to the suggestion that the LIM domains may function as regulators of transcription, and that alterations of transcription networks, after chromosomal translocations, lead to leukaemia. This is a common feature that has been noted in the activation of transcription factors with a variety of structural motifs that include the basic helix-loop-helix motif and the homeodomain in leukaemias.

Fisch P, Forster A, Sherrington PD, Dyer MJ, Rabbitts TH. 1993. The chromosomal translocation t(X;14)(q28;q11) in T-cell pro-lymphocytic leukaemia breaks within one gene and activates another. Oncogene, 8 (12), pp. 3271-3276. | Show Abstract

Chromosomal translocation t(X;14)(q28;q11) has been observed in patients with pro-lymphocytic T-cell leukaemia (T-PLL). In two cases of T-PLL, one of which was associated with Ataxia telangiectasia (AT), the chromosomal break occurred in two different introns of a gene c6.1A, located at the Xq28 locus. Fusion transcripts, consisting of 5' sequences of c6.1A and the TCR alpha constant (C) region, were expressed at high levels in the leukaemic cells from both patients, but in only one case did this fusion generate an in-frame c6.1A-C alpha mRNA. However, the breaks within c6.1A seem to affect another gene, c6.1B, which is transcribed from the same CpG rich island as c6.1A but in the opposite transcriptional orientation. The c6.1B gene is not damaged by the translocation but is transcribed in both T-PLL cases. Furthermore, c6.1B may lack protein coding capacity and thus this translocation might result in a novel mechanism in tumorigenesis. In any event, this is the first cloned gene which is implicated in pathogenesis of chronic/pro-lymphocytic leukaemia of the T-cell lineage.

Rabbitts TH. 1993. Chromosomal Abnormalities in Cancer Cells: Identification of Molecules Important for Tumour Development Biochemical Society Transactions, 21 (4), pp. 809-815. | Read more

Sánchez-García I, Osada H, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1993. The cysteine-rich LIM domains inhibit DNA binding by the associated homeodomain in Isl-1. EMBO J, 12 (11), pp. 4243-4250. | Show Abstract

Recently, a new class of homeobox genes has been identified, called LIM-homeobox genes. These genes encode proteins which have two tandemly repeated cysteine motifs, referred to as LIM domains, in addition to a homeodomain. In addition, proteins with only LIM domains have been described but the function of the LIM domain is unknown. We have analysed the function of LIM domains using Isl-1 as a representative LIM-homeodomain protein. Employing protein prepared in bacterial cells, we show that the presence of the LIM domain in Isl-1 inhibits binding of the homeodomain to its DNA target. This in vitro inhibition can be released either by denaturation/renaturation of the protein or by truncation of the LIM domains. A similar inhibition is observed in vivo using reporter constructs. In addition we show that LIM domains in a chimeric protein can inhibit binding of the Ubx homeodomain to its target. The ability of LIM domains to inhibit DNA binding by the homeodomain provides a possible basis for negative regulation of LIM-homeodomain proteins in vivo.

Rabbitts TH. 1993. Ciba Medal Lecture. Chromosomal abnormalities in cancer cells: identification of molecules important for tumour development. Biochem Soc Trans, 21 (4), pp. 809-815.

Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1993. A method for identifying genes within yeast artificial chromosomes: application to isolation of MLL fusion cDNAs from acute leukaemia translocations. Oncogene, 8 (11), pp. 3157-3160. | Show Abstract

The majority of chromosomal translocations breakpoints are within regions of the genome where few DNA probes are available. The use of yeast artificial chromosomes (YACs) containing long stretches of human DNA allows dispersed DNA markers to be used to identify the position of breakpoints but does not readily allow subcloning of the precise breakpoint within the YAC DNA nor the cDNAs containing the affected genes. We describe a procedure allowing rapid isolation of cDNAs corresponding to genes within a YAC clone. Random cDNA is hybridised to PCR-generated biotinylated fragments of total DNA from a yeast strain harbouring a YAC clone. The hybrids can be recovered to facilitate subsequent cloning of the cDNA molecules. The application of this method to the cloning of cDNA molecules carrying sequences involved in the translocation t(4;11)(q21;q23) is illustrated.

Corral J, Forster A, Thompson S, Lampert F, Kaneko Y, Slater R, Kroes WG, van der Schoot CE, Ludwig WD, Karpas A. 1993. Acute leukemias of different lineages have similar MLL gene fusions encoding related chimeric proteins resulting from chromosomal translocation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 90 (18), pp. 8538-8542. | Show Abstract | Read more

The MLL gene, on human chromosome 11q23, undergoes chromosomal translocation in acute leukemias, resulting in gene fusion with AF4 (chromosome 4) and ENL (chromosome 19). We report here translocation of MLL with nine different chromosomes and two paracentric chromosome 11 deletions in early B cell, B- or T-cell lineage, or nonlymphocytic acute leukemias. The mRNA translocation junction from 22 t(4;11) patients, including six adult leukemias, and nine t(11;19) tumors reveals a remarkable conservation of breakpoints within MLL, AF4, or ENL genes, irrespective of tumor phenotype. Typically, the breakpoints are upstream of the zinc-finger region of MLL, and deletion of this region can accompany translocation, supporting the der(11) chromosome as the important component in leukemogenesis. Partial sequence of a fusion between MLL and the AFX1 gene from chromosome X shows the latter to be rich in Ser/Pro codons, like the ENL mRNA. These data suggest that the heterogeneous 11q23 abnormalities might cause attachment of Ser/Pro-rich segments to the NH2 terminus of MLL, lacking the zinc-finger region, and that translocations occur in early hematopoietic cells, before commitment to distinct lineages.

Rabbitts TH, Forster A, Larson R, Nathan P. 1993. Fusion of the dominant negative transcription regulator CHOP with a novel gene FUS by translocation t(12;16) in malignant liposarcoma. Nat Genet, 4 (2), pp. 175-180. | Show Abstract | Read more

The search for tumour-specific markers is one of the chief goals in cancer biology. We show that the translocation t(12;16)(q13:p11) in malignant myxoid liposarcoma can be a fusion of the CHOP dominant negative transcription factor gene with a novel gene, FUS, which can result in fusion of the FUS glycine-rich protein with the whole CHOP coding region. The data support the concept that protein fusion may commonly occur in solid tumours resulting in tumour-specific markers of potential clinical importance. The data also indicate the importance of transcription disruption in the pathogenesis of solid tumours.

Dear TN, Sanchez-Garcia I, Rabbitts TH. 1993. The HOX11 gene encodes a DNA-binding nuclear transcription factor belonging to a distinct family of homeobox genes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 90 (10), pp. 4431-4435. | Show Abstract | Read more

A translocation involving human chromosome 10, band q24, in a subset of T-cell acute leukemias disrupts a region surrounding the putative oncogene HOX11, which encodes a protein with a homeodomain. The HOX11 protein binds to a specific DNA sequence, it localizes to the cell nucleus, and it transactivates transcription of a reporter gene linked to a cis-regulatory element, suggesting that HOX11 functions in vivo as a positive transcription activator. PCR analysis shows that the HOX11 homeodomain is a member of a distinct class of homeodomains, representatives of which occur in murine and Drosophila genomes. These all contain a threonine residue in place of the more common isoleucine or valine in helix 3 of the homeodomain. HOX11 therefore appears to belong to a family of DNA-binding transactivators of transcription.

Sánchez-García I, Rabbitts TH. 1993. Redox regulation of in vitro DNA-binding activity by the homeodomain of the Isl-1 protein. J Mol Biol, 231 (4), pp. 945-949. | Show Abstract | Read more

The rat Isl-1 gene encodes a protein involved in transcriptional regulation. This protein contains two copies of the cysteine-rich motif LIM domain in addition to a DNA-binding homeodomain. Chemical modification of the free sulphydryl group of a single cysteine residue at position 54 in the homeodomain can both stimulate and inhibit DNA-binding in vitro. Oxidation prevented DNA binding by the homeodomain but had no effect if the homeodomain was first bound to DNA. Replacement of this cysteine residue with serine abrogated sensitivity to oxidation-reduction changes and increased the DNA-binding activity of the homeodomain. These in vitro results suggest that transcriptional regulation through the Isl-1 protein might be modulated by the intracellular redox environment.

Henry I, van Heyningen V, Puech A, Scrable H, Augereau P, Boehm T, Rabbitts T, Mannens M, Rochefort H, Jones C. 1993. Reassessment of breakpoints in chromosome 11p15. Cytogenet Cell Genet, 62 (1), pp. 52-53. | Show Abstract | Read more

Specific tumor-associated rearrangements involving the regions 11p13 and 11p15 have been extensively documented. However, cytogenetic definition of the breakpoints occurring at the boundaries of these two regions was not precise enough to correlate with the molecular data. Using probes corresponding to the genes coding for MYOD1, CTSD, LDHA, and RBTN1 and to the anonymous sequence D11S776, we have reassessed the breakpoints of three hybrids (J1.10, BID7, and NYX3.1) and confirmed the localization or more precisely mapped these four genes and the anonymous DNA marker on different subregions of 11pter-->p13, including the smallest region of 11p15.5 duplicated in a patient with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.

Wu LC, Mak CH, Dear N, Boehm T, Foroni L, Rabbitts TH. 1993. Molecular cloning of a zinc finger protein which binds to the heptamer of the signal sequence for V(D)J recombination. Nucleic Acids Res, 21 (22), pp. 5067-5073. | Show Abstract | Read more

The somatic V(D)J recombination for the assembly of the Ig and TCR genes is mediated by the recombination signal sequences (Rss) and the V(D)J recombinase. A cDNA clone was isolated from a lambda gt11 expression library made from mouse thymocyte poly(A)+ RNA, using the Rss as a ligand. The deduced amino acid sequence of the putative protein, designated Recognition component (Rc), reveals a pair of Cys2-His2 zinc fingers followed by a Glu- and Asp-rich acidic domain. In addition, there are five copies of the Ser/Thr-Pro-X-Arg/Lys sequence, which are putative DNA binding units. The zinc finger-acidic domain structures present in Rc are also found in several enhancer binding proteins, such as those for the kappa B motif of the Ig kappa light chain enhancer or related sequences. Bacterial fusion proteins for Rc bind preferentially to the Rss heptamer and to the kappa B motif. The dual affinities of Rc for the Rss heptamer and the kappa B motif suggest a possible link between Ig transcription and somatic recombination. The formation of multiple 'gel-shifted' DNA-protein complexes for Rc and its DNA ligand suggests that these complexes tend to multimerize.

Walter G, Tomlinson IM, Cook GP, Winter G, Rabbitts TH, Dear PH. 1993. HAPPY mapping of a YAC reveals alternative haplotypes in the human immunoglobulin VH locus. Nucleic Acids Res, 21 (19), pp. 4524-4529. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have identified and sequenced 14 human immunoglobulin VH segments cloned in a yeast artificial chromosome, and have used a rapid PCR-based technique (HAPPY mapping, 12) to derive the order and approximate distances between them. The sequences mapped comprise thirteen germline VH segments and one rearranged VH3 gene. Comparison of our map with other data suggests the existence of at least two distinct haplotypes, differing in the presence or absence of the consecutive genes DP-78, DP-46 and DP-64, and in the duplication of segments DP-49 and DP-65. Screening of ten individuals confirms the existence of both haplotypes, and indicates that both are common amongst the population.

Thick J, Sherrington PD, Fisch P, Taylor AM, Rabbitts TH. 1992. Molecular analysis of a new translocation, t(X;14)(q28;q11), in premalignancy and in leukaemia associated with ataxia telangiectasia. Genes Chromosomes Cancer, 5 (4), pp. 321-325. | Show Abstract | Read more

The disease ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) is a multifaceted disorder in which patients have an increased chance of developing a T-cell leukaemia, often with abnormalities of chromosome 14, but sometimes with rare translocations, like t(X;14)(q28;q11). We describe the cloning of the breakpoint of one such novel t(X;14) from an A-T patient. The translocation breaks within the T cell receptor alpha chain gene on chromosome 14 at band q11 and in a region of the X chromosome, within about 1 Mb of the telomere of the long arm. The patient subsequently developed T-cell prolymphocytic leukaemia (T-PLL), and molecular examination showed that the tumour cells carried the same t(X;14) breakpoint as that cloned from the premalignant cells. The same breakpoint could be detected in blood samples taken as much as 5 years prior to diagnosis of T-PLL. This suggests a role for the abnormality in the tumour development in this patient but implies that other mutational events were necessary for overt disease to become manifest.

Sherrington PD, Forster A, Seawright A, van Heyningen V, Rabbitts TH. 1992. Human RAG2, like RAG1, is on chromosome 11 band p13 and therefore not linked to ataxia telangiectasia complementation groups. Genes Chromosomes Cancer, 5 (4), pp. 404-406. | Show Abstract | Read more

Ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) is an inherited, recessive, cancer-prone disease with associated immunodeficiency and chromosome abnormalities involving TCR loci. The latter phenomena implicate errors of the enzyme(s) responsible for assembly of antigen receptor genes (recombinase) in disease pathogenesis. Here we report the location of a human recombination activating gene (RAG2), in addition to RAG1, on chromosome 11, band p13, thereby formally demonstrating linkage of these genes in humans and showing that they are not linked to the known locus responsible for the A-T syndrome.

Fisch P, Boehm T, Lavenir I, Larson T, Arno J, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1992. T-cell acute lymphoblastic lymphoma induced in transgenic mice by the RBTN1 and RBTN2 LIM-domain genes. Oncogene, 7 (12), pp. 2389-2397. | Show Abstract

Two members of the RBTN gene family, RBTN1/Ttg-1 and RBTN2/Ttg-2, were found by their association with T-cell tumour-specific chromosomal translocations and are thought to be involved in the aetiology of such T-cell tumours. Here a transgenic mouse model is described in which T-cell tumours are induced by the presence of RBTN1 and RBTN2 transgenes that direct expression in thymus-derived cells. The latency period for lymphoid tumour appearance is variable, and tumours occur in a small proportion of transgenic animals that develop T-cell acute lymphoblastic malignancies. No significant increase in the rate of tumour development was observed in RBTN1 transgenic mice infected with Moloney murine leukaemia virus, nor did tumours arise in mice bearing a construct in which RBTN1 was expressed from the insulin transcriptional promoter. These data, which provide formal proof of the oncogenic activity of these genes, suggest that aberrant expression of transcription factor genes, such as RBTN1 and RBTN2, functions in tumour aetiology by disturbing some aspect of T-cell differentiation.

Fisch P, Foroni L, Forster A, Lavenir I, Mengle-Gaw L, Rabbitts TH. 1992. Immunoglobulin VH-T cell receptor C alpha fusion mRNA resulting from chromosome inversion include the T cell-associated 5' exon ET. Eur J Immunol, 22 (10), pp. 2745-2748. | Show Abstract | Read more

A human T cell lymphoma has been described in which an inversion of chromosome 14 results in fusion of an immunoglobulin heavy chain VH with a T cell receptor J alpha segment, potentially resulting in a chimeric protein with immunoglobulin VH region recognition plus T cell receptor effector functions. Examination of the mRNA species expressed from the IgT gene in this lymphoma shows a variety of forms but all IgT mRNA include the T cell-specific exon, ET, previously located in the distal part of the VH locus. In such mRNA species, the normal leader exon of the Ig VH segment, which encodes most of the hydrophobic signal peptide, is replaced by the short ET exon encoding mainly non-hydrophobic residues. Two forms of this mRNA exist which lack the Ig VH leader sequence and thus potentially yield non-membrane proteins in the T cell lymphoma.

Foroni L, Boehm T, White L, Forster A, Sherrington P, Liao XB, Brannan CI, Jenkins NA, Copeland NG, Rabbitts TH. 1992. The rhombotin gene family encode related LIM-domain proteins whose differing expression suggests multiple roles in mouse development. J Mol Biol, 226 (3), pp. 747-761. | Show Abstract | Read more

The rhombotin (RBTN1 or Ttg-1) gene was first identified at a chromosome translocation in a T-cell acute leukaemia and later used to isolate two related genes (RBTN2 or Ttg-2 and RBTN3). Complete characterization of these genes in man and mouse shows that all three encode cysteine-rich proteins with typical LIM domains. RBTN1 and RBTN3-derived proteins have 98% identity in the LIM domains but are located on separate chromosomes in man and in mouse while RBTN1 and RBTN2, both located on human chromosome 11p but are on separate chromosomes in mouse, are only 48% identical in this part of the protein. The exon organization of RBTN1 and RBTN3 genes are similar, both having an intron, absent from the RBTN2 gene, in the LIM2-encoding region. The remarkable similarity between rbtn-1 and rbtn-3 proteins is parallelled in their expression patterns in mouse development, since both genes show high expression in restricted areas of the brain, but little lymphoid expression. rbtn-2 expression, however, is more ubiquitous. This gene shows a low level of thymus expression but high expression in fetal liver, adult spleen and B-cell lines, consistent with a role in B-cell development. These results suggest multiple cellular targets for the action of these proteins during development.

Boehm T, Gonzalez-Sarmiento R, Kennedy M, Rabbitts TH. 1991. A simple technique for generating probes for RNA in situ hybridization: an adjunct to genome mapping exemplified by the RAG-1/RAG-2 gene cluster. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 88 (9), pp. 3927-3931. | Show Abstract | Read more

Two major problems have to be solved in studies of genes near breakpoints of chromosome abnormalities and in large-scale genomic mapping projects: (i) the identification of genes within the large amount on nontranscribed DNA and (ii) the determination of the tissues in which the identified genes are transcribed. In situ hybridization to mRNA is ideally suited to assess gene expression in all tissues but probe preparation presents major difficulties for adapting the technique for rapid screening. Here, we present a procedure to easily generate strand-specific DNA probes for in situ hybridization. In this method, a DNA fragment to be tested in uniformly labeled, denatured, and prehybridized to an excess of competitor single-stranded DNA corresponding to either positive or negative strands of the test fragment. No sequence information is needed. The prehybridized mixture is used directly for hybridization to whole embryo or tissue sections. We demonstrate the utility of this approach for any nonrepetitive fragment by using cDNA probes, intronless genomic probes, or genomic probes comprising transcribed and nontranscribed DNA. As an example, we show that mRNA for the recombination-activating genes (RAG) RAG-1 and RAG-2 is found in thymus of dE16 mouse embryos. Within the thymus, high levels of expression of RAG-1 and RAG-2 are detectable in the cortex but not in the medullary region. This supports the view that RAG-1 and RAG-2 expression is associated with cells known to actively rearrange antigen receptor loci.

Rabbitts TH. 1991. Translocations, master genes, and differences between the origins of acute and chronic leukemias. Cell, 67 (4), pp. 641-644. | Read more

Dear TN, Campbell K, Rabbitts TH. 1991. Molecular cloning of putative odorant-binding and odorant-metabolizing proteins. Biochemistry, 30 (43), pp. 10376-10382. | Show Abstract | Read more

Olfactory reception occurs via the interaction of odorants with the chemosensory cilia of the olfactory receptor cells located in the nasal epithelium. The cDNA clones from mRNA specific to olfactory mucosa were studied. One of these clones, OBPII, encodes a secretory protein with significant homology to odorant-binding protein (OBP), a protein with broad odorant-binding ability, and is expressed in the lateral nasal gland, which is the site of expression of OBP. The OBPII sequence also shows significant homology to the VEG protein, which is thought to be involved in taste transduction. OBPII is a new member of the lipophilic molecule carrier protein family. The second cDNA clone encodes a novel homologue of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme involved in cellular biotransformation pathways. Its expression appears to be localized to the Bowman's glands, the site of several previously identified olfactory-specific biotransformation enzymes.

Dear TN, Boehm T, Keverne EB, Rabbitts TH. 1991. Novel genes for potential ligand-binding proteins in subregions of the olfactory mucosa. EMBO J, 10 (10), pp. 2813-2819. | Show Abstract

Odorant detection is specifically mediated via receptor neurons in the olfactory mucosa but is a complex process involving a number of different cell types producing proteins of differing function. We have used the technique of subtractive hybridization cDNA cloning to identify novel genes expressed exclusively in the olfactory mucosa which may play a role in olfaction. Ten distinct groups of cDNA clones were identified which corresponded to mRNA transcripts highly expressed in rat olfactory mucosa but undetectable in thymus, kidney, lung, brain, spleen and liver. Some of these clones identify substructures in the mucosal tissue for which no other probes are currently available. Others identify novel mRNA species in the Bowman's glands. The predicted proteins for three of these clones are homologous to proteins which bind to either lipopolysaccharides (RYA3 and RY2G5) or to polychlorinated biphenyls (RYD5). In addition, while RYA3 and RY2G5 are highly homologous, they appear to be expressed in different parts of the mucosal tissue. The sequence homologies and subanatomical location of expression suggest that these proteins might interact with odorants before or after specific recognition by odorant receptors. Therefore, the olfactory mucosa may possess diverse, functionally-distinct odorant-binding proteins which recognize and bind separate classes of odorants.

Kennedy MA, Gonzalez-Sarmiento R, Kees UR, Lampert F, Dear N, Boehm T, Rabbitts TH. 1991. HOX11, a homeobox-containing T-cell oncogene on human chromosome 10q24. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 88 (20), pp. 8900-8904. | Show Abstract | Read more

A common chromosomal abnormality in childhood T-cell acute leukemia is a translocation, t(10;14) (q24;q11), that together with the variant t(7;10)(q35;q24) is present in up to 7% of this tumor type. The gene adjacent to the 10q24 region is transcriptionally activated after translocation to either TCRD (14q11) or TCRB (7q35). It encodes a homeobox gene closely related to the developmentally regulated homeotic genes of flies and mammals. The coding capacity of this activated gene, designated HOX11, is undisturbed in a T-cell line carrying the translocation t(7;10)(q35;q24). Therefore, the HOX11 homeobox gene seems to be involved in T-cell tumorigenesis.

Garcia IS, Kaneko Y, Gonzalez-Sarmiento R, Campbell K, White L, Boehm T, Rabbitts TH. 1991. A study of chromosome 11p13 translocations involving TCR beta and TCR delta in human T cell leukaemia. Oncogene, 6 (4), pp. 577-582. | Show Abstract

A frequent site of translocation damage in human T-ALL has been localized to a specific region of chromosome band 11p13. Five new T-ALL cases are described which break in the major T-ALLbcr region of 11p13, two involving a novel translocation t(7;11)(q35;p13), with breakage at the T cell receptor (TCR) beta gene from 7q35, and three involving TCR delta from 14q11 in the more common t(11;14)(p13;q11). Analysis of the mechanism of one T-ALLbcr/TCR beta translocation and a previously described t(11;14)(p13;q11) was conducted by genomic cloning of translocation breakpoints, using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Both seem to have occurred by recombinase error, but only the t(7;11) showed sequence-specific joining. Nonetheless recombinase mediation of the t(11;14) is implied by the presence of N-region addition (a hallmark of recombinase joins) on both derivative chromosomes. These observations reinforce the view that translocations in the T-ALLbcr region of chromosome 11p13 are a major lesion in human T-ALL. In addition, these can occur by mimicry of VDJ joining, but sequence specificity is not obligatory.

Boehm T, Foroni L, Kaneko Y, Perutz MF, Rabbitts TH. 1991. The rhombotin family of cysteine-rich LIM-domain oncogenes: distinct members are involved in T-cell translocations to human chromosomes 11p15 and 11p13. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 88 (10), pp. 4367-4371. | Show Abstract | Read more

A chromosomal translocation in a T-cell leukemia involving the short arm of human chromosome 11 at band 11p15 disrupts the rhombotin gene. This gene encodes a protein with duplicated cysteine-rich regions called LIM domains, which show homology to zinc-binding proteins and to iron-sulfur centers of ferredoxins. Two homologues of the rhombotin gene have now been isolated. One of these, designated Rhom-2, is located on human chromosome 11 at band 11p13, where a cluster of T-cell leukemia-specific translocations occur; all translocation breakpoints at 11p13 are upstream of the Rhom-2 gene. Human and mouse Rhom-2 are highly conserved and, like rhombotin, encode two tandem cysteine-rich LIM domains. Rhom-2 mRNA is expressed in early mouse development in central nervous system, lung, kidney, liver, and spleen but only very low levels occur in thymus. The other gene, designated Rhom-3, is not on chromosome 11 but also retains homology to the LIM domain of rhombotin. Since the Rhom-2 gene is such a common site of chromosomal damage in T-cell tumors, the consistency of translocations near the rhombotin gene was further examined. A second translocation adjacent to rhombotin was found and at the same position as in the previous example. Therefore, chromosome bands 11p15 (rhombotin) and 11p13 (Rhom-2) are consistent sites of chromosome translocation in T-cell leukemia, with the 11p15 target more rarely involved. The results define the rhombotin gene family as a class of T-cell oncogenes with duplicated cysteine-rich LIM domains.

Brüggemann M, Spicer C, Buluwela L, Rosewell I, Barton S, Surani MA, Rabbitts TH. 1991. Human antibody production in transgenic mice: expression from 100 kb of the human IgH locus. Eur J Immunol, 21 (5), pp. 1323-1326. | Show Abstract | Read more

In order to study the requirements for a human antibody repertoire to be engineered in transgenic animals, we have created mouse strains that express human immunoglobulin genes from 100 kb of cosmid DNA. Undisrupted integration of the human DNA in the mouse germ line, encoding germ-line V,D,J and the Cmu constant region, was achieved, and proved sufficient for the production of human IgM in the mouse serum. Co-integration of one cosmid (containing the VH6 gene and a 36-kb region of the J-proximal D cluster) with a second cosmid (containing VH26, a further 38-kb of the D cluster, JH and Cmu) results in V-D-J rearrangements in the transgenic mice, similar to those seen in human DNA, were found only in spleen but not in thymus. Random hybridomas made from these transgenic mice show heterogeneous rearrangements of the human transgenes. Sequences of V-D-J units derived from transgene rearrangements reveal extensive N-region and apparent D segment diversity. These results show that utilisation of human Ig genomic segments does occur in transgenic mice, paving the way for the derivation of a mouse strain that makes authentic human antibodies from inserted heavy and light chain gene loci.

Boehm T, Spillantini MG, Sofroniew MV, Surani MA, Rabbitts TH. 1991. Developmentally regulated and tissue specific expression of mRNAs encoding the two alternative forms of the LIM domain oncogene rhombotin: evidence for thymus expression. Oncogene, 6 (5), pp. 695-703. | Show Abstract

The T-cell oncogene rhombotin was first identified as a gene near a chromosomal translocation breakpoint in a human T-cell tumour and represents the first example of an oncogene carrying the duplicated cysteine-rich regions (CRR or LIM domains). Transgenic expression of a reporter gene under the control of one of the rhombotin gene promoters subsequently showed high levels of expression in the developing brain. These disparate sites of transcriptional activity suggested that the gene may have been activated de novo specifically in the T cell tumour via the translocation. Here, we assess this possibility by analysing rhombotin gene expression in mouse development by in situ hybridization of whole embryos, Northern filter hybridization, and a sensitive semiquantitative PCR method. The results show that the central nervous system is the major site of rhombotin mRNA production. Low level expression does, however, occur in other tissues including thymus. Furthermore, both promoters are active and differentially regulated during mouse embryogenesis in both brain and thymus. In subregions of the adult brain, different levels of rhombotin activity can be observed, with evidence for regional variation in promoter usage. A detailed analysis of mouse and human T-cell differentiation suggests that fluctuating promoter activities are related to a general T-cell differentiation process rather than to the differentiation of functionally distinct subsets of T-cells. These data suggest that the transforming activity of rhombotin in the T-cell with the chromosomal translocation was not due to de novo transcriptional activation, but rather to a quantitative or qualitative change in expression levels of this CRR-containing oncogene after chromosomal translocation.

Rabbitts TH, Boehm T. 1991. Structural and functional chimerism results from chromosomal translocation in lymphoid tumors. Adv Immunol, 50 (C), pp. 119-146. | Show Abstract | Read more

This chapter discusses the mechanism of translocations in lymphoid tumors with particular reference to the timing of translocations in T cell tumorigenesis. The chapter discusses the consequences of chromosomal abnormalities: first, the consequences to the protooncogene near the site of the abnormality, and second, the consequences to the cell of an “activated” oncogene. The chapter presents the major lymphoid abnormalities that have been cloned so far together with relevant information about the location of the presumptive oncogenes involved. The oncogenes affected by the abnormalities range from previously known oncogenes to newly discovered ones. The mechanism by which chromosome abnormalities associated with the rearranging genes are created has been discussed. The enzymes carrying out normal antigen–receptor gene rearrangement are implicated in the creation of these abnormalities. The chapter describes gene fusion resulting from chromosome translocation. Fusion of two transcription units was first described in cancer associated chromosomal abnormalities in chronic myelogenous leukemia, wherein it was discovered that the c-abl protooncogene was consistently joined to another gene in the Philadelphia chromosome translocation. The study of chromosomal abnormalities in human T cell leukemias has illuminated some of the features of tumor progression. The study of translocations and inversions in Tcell tumors from patients with ataxia telangiectasia (AT) has provided some important insights into the conversion of preleukemia to overt leukemia. © 1991 Academic Press, Inc.

Lefranc MP, Rabbitts TH. 1991. Genetic organization of the human T cell receptor gamma locus. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol, 173 pp. 3-9.

Boehm T, Greenberg JM, Buluwela L, Lavenir I, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1990. An unusual structure of a putative T cell oncogene which allows production of similar proteins from distinct mRNAs. EMBO J, 9 (3), pp. 857-868. | Show Abstract

We previously identified a putative T cell oncogene on chromosome 11 near a translocation t(11;14)(p15;q11) in a human T cell tumour. The gene is transcribed from distinct promoters which have unrelated sequences, which occur within close but distinct methylation-free islands and which allow cell specific production of mRNA. The alternative first exons each contain a protein initiation codon from which two species of protein can be made, differing by only a single amino acid. The protein sequence is highly conserved between man and mouse (98%) and the same single codon difference between alternative first exons is also conserved. This is, therefore, a new form of eukaryotic gene organization from which similar proteins can be made from distinct mRNA species.

Lefranc MP, Rabbitts TH. 1990. Genetic organization of the human T-cell receptor gamma and delta loci. Res Immunol, 141 (7), pp. 565-577. | Read more

Lefranc MP, Rabbitts TH. 1990. A nomenclature to fit the organization of the human T-cell receptor gamma and delta genes. Res Immunol, 141 (7), pp. 615-618. | Read more

Rabbitts TH, Boehm T. 1990. LIM domains. Nature, 346 (6283), pp. 418. | Read more

Boehm T, Foroni L, Kennedy M, Rabbitts TH. 1990. The rhombotin gene belongs to a class of transcriptional regulators with a potential novel protein dimerisation motif. Oncogene, 5 (7), pp. 1103-1105. | Show Abstract

The derived protein sequence of the presumptive oncogene rhombotin is virtually identical between human and mouse (Boehm et al., 1990), rendering it difficult to identify functionally important regions or motifs. We have therefore sought to isolate and compare rhombotin sequences from disparate species. Here we show that a sequence which is highly homologous to that of human and mouse rhombotin exists in Drosophila DNA. Comparison of the sequences shows the main conserved feature to be a cysteine-rich region (CRR). The mammalian rhombotin gene has tandemly duplicated CRR's (CRR-1 and CRR-2) and comparison of CRR-1 and -2 with other known proteins shows close homology to the proposed LIM domains of the nematode cell lineage proteins lin-11 and mec-3 (Freyd et al., 1990), and of a vertebrate transcription factor (Isl-1) (Karlsson et al., 1990). The latter three proteins share a homeodomain, in addition to the LIM domains. These observations suggest that the LIM domain might facilitate protein-protein interactions in a manner analogous to the leucine zipper or the helix-loop-helix motifs. Thus, since rhombotin lacks a DNA-binding homeodomain, this protein might belong to a new class of transcriptional regulators which modulate transcription via intermolecular competitive binding to the LIM domains of certain DNA-binding transcription factors.

Forster A, Buluwela L, Rabbitts TH. 1990. Turbo-screening of bacterial colonies using microwave denaturation on paper filters. Trends Genet, 6 (5), pp. 141. | Read more

Greenberg JM, Boehm T, Sofroniew MV, Keynes RJ, Barton SC, Norris ML, Surani MA, Spillantini MG, Rabbitts TH. 1990. Segmental and developmental regulation of a presumptive T-cell oncogene in the central nervous system. Nature, 344 (6262), pp. 158-160. | Show Abstract | Read more

Although most proto-oncogenes such as c-myc are involved in cell proliferation, being expressed in a wide range of tissues as well as in progenitors of transformed cells, others may normally function in cellular differentiation. We now report on a gene on human chromosome 11, at the junction of the T-cell tumour-associated chromosomal translocation t(11; 14) (p15; q11) and known as the 11p15 gene or Ttg, which is believed to be involved in the pathogenesis of the tumour. It has two transcriptional promoters (both retained by the translocated allele) and is expressed in tumour cells with neuro-endocrine properties, suggesting that normal expression may occur in nerve cells. Using fusion constructs of one 11p15 promoter and lacZ in transgenic mice, we found that the gene is expressed in a segment-specific manner in rhombomeres of the developing mouse hind-brain. During subsequent development, the gene is more widely expressed, again in precisely defined regional patterns, but in post-mitotic neurons confined to the central nervous system. Thus, this presumptive T-cell oncogene is both developmentally regulated and segmentally restricted in a tissue different from that in which the original tumour arose.

Foroni L, Boehm T, Lampert F, Kaneko Y, Raimondi S, Rabbitts TH. 1990. Multiple methylation-free islands flank a small breakpoint cluster region on 11p13 in the t(11;14)(p13;q11) translocation. Genes Chromosomes Cancer, 1 (4), pp. 301-309. | Show Abstract | Read more

The t(11;14)(p13;q11) translocation is one of the most frequent chromosomal abnormalities in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Ten different leukemias carrying this translocation have been analysed and all 10 breakpoints fall within a region of less than 25 kb on chromosome band 11p13. We have used PFGE and cosmid cloning to assess the presence of potential genes by analysing methylation-free islands in the vicinity. Four methylation-free islands, within 270 kb, flank the t(11;14)-associated breakpoint cluster region (T-ALLbcr), one occurring about 25 kb on the telomeric side and one about 100 kb on the centromeric side of the T-ALLbcr. Evidence for eight further methylation-free islands on both sides of the T-ALLbcr region is also presented. Thus multiple methylation-free islands exist on 11p13 flanking the t(11;14)(p13;q11) translocation-associated breakpoint cluster region, representing multiple potential transcription units whose chromosomal environment is altered by chromosome translocation.

Boehm T, Foroni L, Rabbitts TH. 1990. An STS in the human T-ALL breakpoint cluster region (T-ALLbcr) located at 11p13. Nucleic Acids Res, 18 (14), pp. 4298. | Read more

Boehm T, Rabbitts TH. 1989. A chromosomal basis of lymphoid malignancy in man. Eur J Biochem, 185 (1), pp. 1-17. | Read more

Boehm T, Rabbitts TH. 1989. The human T cell receptor genes are targets for chromosomal abnormalities in T cell tumors. FASEB J, 3 (12), pp. 2344-2359. | Show Abstract

T cells express either of the two forms of antigen-specific receptors, the alpha/beta and gamma/delta heterodimers. Their structure closely resembles that of immunoglobulins, and the variable part of the receptor molecule is created by somatic assembly of variable, diversity, and joining regions. The genetic structure of T cell receptor (TCR) genes and their rearrangement in T cell development have been elucidated in great detail in recent years. The human genes for the gamma and beta subunits are located on the short and long arms of chromosome 7, respectively, whereas the delta- and alpha-chain genes are located in tandem on the centromeric half of the long arm of chromosome 14. Expression of either alpha/beta or gamma/delta TCR complexes on T cells in the developing thymus is likely to proceed in an ordered fashion and results in the appearance of distinct T cell subpopulations. The process of DNA rearrangements required for the generation of functional variable region genes also predisposes lymphoid cells to aberrant DNA rearrangements, which can be detected as chromosomal abnormalities such as translocations and inversions. Molecular analysis of such aberrant rearrangements has shown that rearranging loci are fused to loci unrelated to antigen receptor genes. Furthermore, the breakpoint structures represent nonproductive intermediates in the hierarchy of physiological rearrangements. Accordingly, T cell tumors arising early in T cell development often carry chromosomal abnormalities involving the delta-chain locus, whereas tumors generated later in T cell development tend to show aberrations in the alpha-chain gene. This pattern seems to reflect the stage-specific accessibility of TCR loci for rearrangement by the recombinase machinery. This enzyme is guided by specific recombination signals that can sometimes also be found at the site of breakage on the participating locus in chromosomal abnormalities. Although some features of the mechanism of aberrant rearrangements are known, their biological consequences are less well understood. However, molecular analysis of the mechanism of chromosomal aberrations in T cell tumors suggests that their biological consequences may vary. Firm evidence for the pathogenic significance is missing for most of these lesions. This provides a challenge to molecular immunology to determine how chromosomal abnormalities are involved in tumor pathogenesis.

Boehm T, Mengle-Gaw L, Kees UR, Spurr N, Lavenir I, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1989. Alternating purine-pyrimidine tracts may promote chromosomal translocations seen in a variety of human lymphoid tumours. EMBO J, 8 (9), pp. 2621-2631. | Show Abstract

Chromosomal abnormalities which are prevalent in human lymphoid tumours are believed to be involved in tumour pathogenesis and their formation may be the result of erroneous activity by the V-D-J recombinase. Frequently, recombinase accessibility is provided by prior transcription of the chromosomal regions involved. However, this may not always be so and in those cases DNA structural features must be involved. Here we examine the breakpoints of three different tumour-specific translocations in the proximity of which we can detect no transcription; two of the translocations involve regions of chromosome 11, (t[11;14] [p13;q11] and t[11;14] [q13;q32]), and the third is a newly described translocation, t[7;10] [q35;q24], involving the T cell receptor beta-gene on chromosome 7. In each case, a purine--pyrimidine tract (potential Z-DNA) occurs near the translocation breakpoints. Four independent tumours with translocation t[11;14] [p13;q11] reveal a 2 kb breakpoint cluster region at 11p13 with an adjacent potential Z-DNA region of 62 bp in length; the analogous purine--pyrimidine tract at 10q24 is 32 bp long. The purine--pyrimidine tract at the 11q13 chromosome breakpoint, however, is very large as it covers approximately 800 bp. The position, surrounding sequence and potential Z-DNA tract of the human 11p13 TALLber is conserved in rodents. These results suggest that the purine--pyrimidine tracts, presumably in the Z-DNA form, can influence chromatin structure giving access for recombinase-mediated translocations. Such putative alterations of chromatin organization are supported by the observation of DNase I hypersensitive sites near to translocation breakpoints on 10q24 and 11p13.

Lefranc MP, Rabbitts TH. 1989. The human T-cell receptor gamma (TRG) genes. Trends Biochem Sci, 14 (6), pp. 214-218. | Show Abstract | Read more

The human T-cell receptor gamma (TRG) chain genes, like those encoding the T-cell receptor alpha- and beta-polypeptides, undergo rearrangements specifically in T cells. The human TRG locus, which has been completely mapped, is composed of two constant region genes (TRGC), five joining segments (TRGJ) and at least 14 variable gamma-genes (TRGV). Eight variable genes are functional and belong to four different subgroups. The product of the rearranged TRG gene is the gamma-chain which is expressed, along with the delta-chain, at the surface of a subset of T lymphocytes. Although some gamma delta + cells display a cytolytic activity, their precise function remains to be elucidated.

Foroni L, Laffan M, Boehm T, Rabbitts TH, Catovsky D, Luzzatto L. 1989. Rearrangement of the T-cell receptor delta genes in human T-cell leukemias. Blood, 73 (2), pp. 559-565. | Show Abstract

Two distinct types of T-cell receptors (TCR), designated alpha beta and gamma delta, have been identified on the surface of T cells. In the adult, T cells bearing the gamma delta TCR are a minority and they have the phenotype CD3+, CD4-, CD8-/+. By using appropriate probes, rearrangements of the TCR alpha, beta, and gamma genes have been extensively investigated in a variety of lymphoproliferative disorders. Because the TCR delta gene has been cloned only recently, no comparable information exists with respect to this in human leukemias. We report the analysis of the TCR delta gene configuration in 21 T-cell acute and chronic leukemias, 40 B-cell leukemias, 4 acute myeloid leukemias of difficult classification, and 12 normal controls. The TCR delta genes were structurally modified in all T-cell disorders and in germ-line configuration in all controls and all but one case of non-T-cell leukemias tested. In one case of T-chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CD3+, CD4-, CD8+) we found rearrangement and expression of TCR gamma and delta (but not alpha and beta), suggesting that leukemic transformation took place in a cell bearing a TCR gamma delta rather than a TCR alpha beta. In two cases of pre-T-acute lymphoblastic leukemia, only delta was rearranged out of the three TCR genes tested. This finding is in keeping with the suggestion that the TCR delta gene might be the first to rearrange in T cell ontogeny, and that its mode of rearrangement may play a role in the subsequent choice of the cell between production of a TCR alpha beta or gamma delta. Thus, TCR delta chain gene analysis can provide novel information of the clonal nature of T-cell disorders, particularly if the analysis of the beta and gamma genes has not been helpful.

Buluwela L, Forster A, Boehm T, Rabbitts TH. 1989. A rapid procedure for colony screening using nylon filters. Nucleic Acids Res, 17 (1), pp. 452. | Read more

Boehm T, Baer R, Buluwela L, Forster A, Lavenir I, Nacheva E, Waters J, White L, Williams D, Rabbitts TH. 1989. Chromosomal translocations involving the T-cell receptor delta chain locus and two loci on the short arm of chromosome 11. Haematol Blood Transfus, 32 pp. 357-359.

Boehm T, Lavenir I, Forster A, Wadey RB, Cowell JK, Harbott J, Lampert F, Waters J, Sherrington P, Couillin P. 1988. The T-ALL specific t(11;14)(p13;q11) translocation breakpoint cluster region is located near to the Wilms' tumour predisposition locus. Oncogene, 3 (6), pp. 691-695. | Show Abstract

A breakpoint cluster region (T-ALLbcr) has been previously described on 11p13 for T-ALL carrying t(11;14)(p13;q11). One further T-ALL breakpoint is described bringing to 5 out of 6 such translocations which are found to break within a maximum of 6.7 kb on chromosome 11p13. Studies of somatic cell hybrids derived from t(11;14)(p13;q11) T-ALL placed the T-ALLbcr between the genes for catalase (CAT) and the beta-subunit of follicle stimulating hormone (FSHB). This suggested a link between the T-ALLbcr and the Wilms' tumour predisposition locus (WT) since constitutional 11p13 deletions predispose to Wilms' tumour. Utilising somatic cell hybrids from patients with Wilms' tumours and aniridia, we show that while the T-ALLbcr maps distal to the catalase gene at 11p13, it maps outside the shortest region of overlap of a series of 11p13 deletions associated with Wilms'-Aniridia. The data suggest the order of genes at 11p13 to be: centromere-CAT-T-ALLbcr-WT-aniridia-FSHB-telomere. Therefore, the T-ALLbcr must lie very close to but may be distinct from the Wilms' predisposition locus at 11p13.

Mengle-Gaw L, Albertson DG, Sherrington PD, Rabbitts TH. 1988. Analysis of a T-cell tumor-specific breakpoint cluster at human chromosome 14q32. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 85 (23), pp. 9171-9175. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cytogenetic abnormalities involving chromosome 14 band q32 are consistently observed in human T-cell tumors. Patients with ataxia-telangiectasia (AT) are especially prone to development of these tumors, which frequently carry either inversion inv(14)(q11;q32) or translocation t(14;14) (q11;q32) chromosomes. We have previously shown that the cytogenetic breakpoints of one t(14;14)(q11;q32) chromosome and two inv(14)(q11;q32) chromosomes in T-cell tumors from AT and non-AT patients join the T-cell receptor alpha chain locus, at chromosome band 14q11, with a region(s) at 14q32 centromeric of the immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region (VH) gene IGHV. We now show that these two inv(14) breakpoints are linked by 2.1 kb of germ-line 14q32 DNA and that the three breakpoints define, by in situ hybridization analysis, a single locus at chromosome band 14q32.1 located about 15-20 million base pairs on the centromeric side of the IGH locus. Sequence analysis of the 14q32.1 breakpoint regions indicates that abnormal recombination does not universally result from mistaken V-D-J joining (D = diversity region; J = joining region). Therefore, we invoke a tumor selection model to describe the role of the 14q32.1 locus in tumor development.

Rabbitts TH, Boehm T, Mengle-Gaw L. 1988. Chromosomal abnormalities in lymphoid tumours: mechanism and role in tumour pathogenesis. Trends Genet, 4 (11), pp. 300-304. | Show Abstract | Read more

Chromosomal abnormalities have been the focus of study recently, after the discovery of oncogenes at the junctions of translocations in Burkitt's lymphoma and the Philadelphia chromosome in chronic myelogenous leukaemia. Can these findings be extrapolated to other, less consistently occurring abnormalities? To analyse this question, we specifically discuss chromosomal abnormalities involving the human T-cell receptor δ/α locus. We discuss the mechanism for the formation of these chromosomal aberrations, and their possible significance for the pathogenesis of T-cell tumours. Current evidence suggests that some of these aberrations are involved in tumour pathogenesis while others are not. © 1988.

Buluwela L, Rabbitts TH. 1988. A VH gene is located within 95 Kb of the human immunoglobulin heavy chain constant region genes. Eur J Immunol, 18 (11), pp. 1843-1845. | Show Abstract | Read more

Using cosmids covering about 117 Kb upstream of the human immunoglobulin chain C mu gene, we have identified a potentially functional VH gene, belonging to the VHVI subgroup. This VHVI gene is only about 95 Kb from the C mu gene and is probably the first functional VH segment of the Igh locus. These results illustrate the proximity of the human VH, DH and JH segments involved in creation of the complete heavy chain genes.

Tunnacliffe A, Olsson C, Buluwela L, Rabbitts TH. 1988. Organization of the human CD3 locus on chromosome 11. Eur J Immunol, 18 (10), pp. 1639-1642. | Show Abstract | Read more

Three CD3 genes, gamma, delta, epsilon, map to human chromosome 11 band q23. A 75-kb region of 11q23 containing all three genes has been characterized by field inversion gel electrophoresis and molecular cloning. The CD3 genes lie within a stretch of 50 kb of DNA, orientated 3'-CD3 gamma-5': 5'-CD3 delta-3': 3'-CD3 epsilon-5'. Only 1.6 kb separate the CD3 gamma and CD3 delta genes, while the CD3 delta and CD3 epsilon genes are approximately 22 kb apart. CD3 gene expression is one of the first events during the maturation of the thymocyte, and therefore the clustering of CD3 genes may define a chromatin domain which is activated early in T cell development.

Buluwela L, Albertson DG, Sherrington P, Rabbitts PH, Spurr N, Rabbitts TH. 1988. The use of chromosomal translocations to study human immunoglobulin gene organization: mapping DH segments within 35 kb of the C mu gene and identification of a new DH locus. EMBO J, 7 (7), pp. 2003-2010. | Show Abstract

We have studied the Burkitt's lymphoma cell line Daudi which carries the translocation t(8;14). The breakpoint of this translocation on the 14q+ chromosome occurs near to a rearranged DH-JH join, and the actual chromosome junction is a few hundred base pairs upstream of the joined DH element. The nucleotide sequence of the rearranged DH segment shows that it does not come from the previously described D cluster. Using this DH sequence as a probe we have identified two separate DH clusters. One of these is the major DH cluster and is located only 20 kb upstream of the JH segments. A pseudo-VH (probably the first VH segment) is also found approximately 98 kb from JH. A second, minor DH locus has been found which seems to be located on the distal side of the VH locus on chromosome 14, since there is little evidence for rearrangement or deletion of this locus in any B cell DNA analysed. A single VHIII subgroup gene is located within 25 kb of the newly identified DH element: it is possible that this minor locus occurs near the limit of the Igh locus.

Boehm T, Buluwela L, Williams D, White L, Rabbitts TH. 1988. A cluster of chromosome 11p13 translocations found via distinct D-D and D-D-J rearrangements of the human T cell receptor delta chain gene. EMBO J, 7 (7), pp. 2011-2017. | Show Abstract

Human T cell tumours have few consistently occurring translocations which provide markers for this disease. The translocation t(11;14)(p13;q11), however, seems to be an exception, since it has been repeatedly observed in T-ALL. We have analysed a number of T-ALL samples carrying the t(11;14) with a view to assessing the nature of the translocated sequences on chromosomes 11 and 14. Three of the tumours studied have breakpoints, at 14q11, within the T cell receptor delta chain locus, while a fourth appears to break in the J alpha region. The TCR delta sequences involved in the translocation junctions are made from D delta-D delta-J delta joins or from D delta-D delta joins, allowing us to define distinct human D delta and J delta segments. These results allow us to make a comparison between the human and mouse TCR delta loci, both as regards sequence and rearrangement hierarchies. The disparate translocation breakpoints at chromosome 14q11 contrast with the marked clustering of breaks at chromosome 11p13; in all four cases, the breakpoint occurs within a region of less than 0.8 kb of chromosome 11. The analysis of junctional sequences at the 11p13 breakpoint cluster region only shows a consensus heptamer-like sequence in one out of four tumours analysed. Therefore, recombinase-mediated sequence specific recognition is not the only cause of chromosomal translocation.

Baer R, Boehm T, Yssel H, Spits H, Rabbitts TH. 1988. Complex rearrangements within the human J delta-C delta/J alpha-C alpha locus and aberrant recombination between J alpha segments. EMBO J, 7 (6), pp. 1661-1668. | Show Abstract

We have examined DNA rearrangements within a 120 kb cloned region of the human T cell receptor J delta-C delta/J alpha-C alpha locus. Three types of pattern emerge from an analysis of T cell lines and clones. Firstly, cells with two rearrangements within J delta-C delta; secondly, cells with one rearrangement within J delta-C delta and one or more J alpha rearrangements, and finally, cells with rearrangements within J alpha and consequential deletion of the delta locus. Further analysis by cloning of rearrangements within the J alpha locus show that, in addition to V alpha-J alpha joins, J alpha-J alpha aberrant recombinations occur and rearrangement data indicate that such events are frequent. A model is presented to account for such recombinations.

Baer R, Forster A, Lavenir I, Rabbitts TH. 1988. Immunoglobulin VH genes are transcribed by T cells in association with a new 5' exon. J Exp Med, 167 (6), pp. 2011-2016. | Show Abstract | Read more

We previously detected mRNAs in a number of human T cell lines with a probe from within the Ig VH gene locus. We now show these mRNAs consist of Ig VH genes expressed in T cells. In one human T cell line, two RNA species have been studied and found to come from transcripts of unrearranged VH segments in which the leader exon, normally associated with VH transcripts in B cells, is replaced by a novel 5' exon (ET) not encoding a hydrophobic leader peptide. In genomic DNA, this new ET exon is adjacent to a pseudo-VH gene that has not been observed in mature mRNA. This implies that RNA splicing controls association of the new exon with the expressed VH segments. Hence, VH transcription does indeed occur in T cells, but is qualitatively different from that in B cells.

Foroni L, Matutes E, Foldi J, Morilla R, Rabbitts T, Luzzatto L, Catovsky D. 1988. T-cell leukemias with rearrangement of the gamma but not beta T-cell receptor genes. Blood, 71 (2), pp. 356-362. | Show Abstract

beta and gamma T cell receptor (TCR) gene configuration was studied in 12 patients with large granular lymphocyte T cell leukemia (LGL-leukemia). Both genes were found rearranged in ten cases. In the remaining two patients TCR beta was found in germline configuration. In one of them rearrangement of T cell-rearranging gene gamma (TRG gamma) and a gamma mRNA were demonstrated. We suggest that in this patient the leukemic T cells arose from one of the rare T cells bearing a gamma-delta rather than an alpha-beta TCR heterodimeric molecule. In the other patient several discrete TRG gamma rearrangements were detected. Because her leukemic cells were shown to be monoclonal on the grounds of their karyotype, we suggest that her leukemia originated before any rearrangement had taken place. The combined use of TCR beta and TRG gamma probes provides new information on the origin and clonal expansion of lymphoid cells in LGL-leukemia.

Boehm T, Baer R, Lavenir I, Forster A, Waters JJ, Nacheva E, Rabbitts TH. 1988. The mechanism of chromosomal translocation t(11;14) involving the T-cell receptor C delta locus on human chromosome 14q11 and a transcribed region of chromosome 11p15. EMBO J, 7 (2), pp. 385-394. | Show Abstract

A chromosomal translocation t(11;14) (p15;q11) is described in a human acute T-cell leukaemia of immature phenotype (CD3-, CD4-, CD8-). The translocation occurs at a T-cell receptor joining J delta segment, 12 kb upstream of the constant C delta gene and 98 kb upstream of the C alpha gene at chromosome band 14q11. Nucleotide sequencing shows that both J delta and C delta are very conserved between mouse and man. The region of chromosome 11 involved in the translocation is transcriptionally active and produces a 4-kb mRNA. The DNA sequence at the chromosome 11 junction shows a perfect match to a recombinase signal sequence implying that this translocation occurred by recombinase error. The occurrence of the translocation breakpoint at the C delta locus, normally rearranged in immature T cells, and the structure of the translocation junctions suggests that the translocation occurred during an attempt at normal rearrangement of the J delta segment in an early thymocyte.

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Rabbitts PH, Douglas J, Fischer P, Nacheva E, Karpas A, Catovsky D, Melo JV, Baer R, Stinson MA, Rabbitts TH. 1988. Chromosome abnormalities at 11q13 in B cell tumours Oncogene, 3 (1), pp. 99-103. | Show Abstract

B cell tumours have frequently been found to possess translocations involving the long arm of chromosome 14 at band q32. These include a translocation t(11;14) (q13;32). We describe the molecular cloning of the t(11;14) junction from a B-cell prolymphocytic leukaemia which involves a breakage within the immunoglobulin heavy chain J(H)4 joining segment, and sequences from chromosome 11q13 which show homology to an L1-repeat element. The 11q13 breakpoint is different from previously cloned examples, but seems to occur within about 1 Kb of these. An additional breakpoint was detected in a myeloma tumour, about 36 Kb from the previously identified locus. Thus, although the translocation t(11;14) is relatively rare in B cell tumours, a number of different types of tumour have now been shown to carry abnormalities within this region of chromosome 11q13. These observations strengthen the correlative argument that this locus may be important for B cell tumour pathogenesis, if involved in a chromosomal translocation.

Baer R, Heppell A, Taylor AM, Rabbitts PH, Boullier B, Rabbitts TH. 1987. The breakpoint of an inversion of chromosome 14 in a T-cell leukemia: sequences downstream of the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus are implicated in tumorigenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 84 (24), pp. 9069-9073. | Show Abstract | Read more

T-cell tumors are characterized by inversions or translocations of chromosome 14. The breakpoints of these karyotypic abnormalities occur in chromosome bands 14q11 and 14q32--the same bands in which the T-cell receptor (TCR) alpha-chain and immunoglobulin heavy chain genes have been mapped, respectively. Patients with ataxia-telangiectasia are particularly prone to development of T-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia with such chromosomal abnormalities. We now describe DNA rearrangements of the TCR alpha-chain gene in an ataxia-telangiectasia-associated leukemia containing both a normal and an inverted chromosome 14. The normal chromosome 14 has undergone a productive join of TCR alpha-chain variable (V alpha) and joining (J alpha) gene segments. The other allele of the TCR alpha-chain gene features a DNA rearrangement, about 50 kilobases from the TCR alpha-chain constant (C alpha) gene, that represents the breakpoint of the chromosome 14 inversion; this breakpoint is comprised of a TCR J alpha segment (from 14q11) fused to sequences derived from 14q32 but on the centromeric side of C mu. These results imply that 14q32 sequences located at an undetermined distance downstream of the immunoglobulin C mu locus can contribute to the development of T-cell tumors.

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Foroni L, Foldi J, Matutes E, Catovsky D, O'Connor NJO, Baer R, Forster A, Rabbitts TH, Luzzatto L. 1987. α, β and γ T-cell receptor genes: Rearrangements correlate with haematological phenotype in T cell leukaemias British Journal of Haematology, 67 (3), pp. 307-318. | Show Abstract

We have studied the arrangement of the α, β and γ T-cell receptor (TCR) genes in 27 patients with T cell lymphoproliferative disorders. Nine patients had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL), nine patients had prolymphocytic leukaemia (PLL), six patients presented with a T-CLL/T-lymphocytosis syndrome, two patients had Sezary syndrome (SS) and one patient had HTLV-I positive T-cell leukaemia/lymphoma (ATLL). α TCR gene rearrangement could be demonstrated by the use of three available probes in only one case. By contrast, both β and γ TCR gene rearrangement could be demonstrated by Southern blot analysis of DNA samples digested with appropriate restriction enzymes in the majority of cases. In general, when rearrangements were present they involved both alleles. The proportion of rearranged chromosomes was lower in T-ALL than in other forms of T-cell leukaemia and it was lower in cases with the CD4-/CD8+ phenotype than in those with a CD4+/CD8- phenotype. In three out of 34 cases of B-cell leukaemia the TCR β-gene but not the TCR γ-gene was rearranged, just as in two out of 26 cases of T-cell leukaemia the immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain but not the light chain genes were rearranged. These data suggest that development of the machinery required for gene rearrangement may precede commitment to B or T cell lineage. The use of this technique is especially useful for the classification of cases of ALL in which the cells are negative with respect to most current phenotypic markers and in cases of T cell lymphocytosis in which the finding of a gene rearrangement identifies a monoclonal cell population.

Tighe L, Forster A, Clark DM, Boylston AW, Lavenir I, Rabbitts TH. 1987. Unusual forms of T cell gamma mRNA in a human T cell leukemia cell line: implications for gamma gene expression. Eur J Immunol, 17 (12), pp. 1729-1736. | Show Abstract | Read more

The expression and rearrangement of T cell rearranging (TRG) gamma genes in human leukemic cell lines has been examined. The cell line MOLT-17 produces abundant gamma mRNA which is translated into a protein found on the cell surface which is associated with the CD3 molecule. The analysis of the gamma mRNA sequences in MOLT-17, by cDNA cloning, shows transcripts of aberrantly rearranged genes as well as the productively rearranged allele. The productive allele consists of a rearranged V gamma 8 gene joined to J gamma 2. Two forms of aberrant transcript originate from the other rearranged gamma allele. One of these initiates just upstream of the unrearranged J gamma 2 segment, and the other initiates from a V gamma 8 gene segment joined to another J gamma segment, upstream of J gamma 2. An unusual feature of the latter transcript is that polyadenlyation has occurred at the end of the first exon of C gamma 2, where two conserved poly(A) addition signals occur. The MOLT-4 cell line, on the other hand, has productively and nonproductively rearranged gamma alleles, from which relatively little transcription occurs. These results define new J gamma segments in the human TRG gamma locus and suggest that positive activation of the gamma locus is necessary for high level transcription after rearrangement.

Gregory CD, Kirchgens C, Edwards CF, Young LS, Rowe M, Forster A, Rabbitts TH, Rickinson AB. 1987. Epstein-Barr virus-transformed human precursor B cell lines: altered growth phenotype of lines with germ-line or rearranged but nonexpressed heavy chain genes. Eur J Immunol, 17 (8), pp. 1199-1207. | Show Abstract | Read more

A series of lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) have been established by in vitro infection of fetal bone marrow and fetal liver cells with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). While most lines showed the usual mature B cell phenotype, a small proportion were cytoplasmic and surface immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy and light chain negative. Analysis of gene rearrangements indicated that the Ig- lines were either germ-line or nonproductively rearranged when probed for JH and were in germ-line configuration for C chi; no mu or chi mRNA could be detected in such cells. Precursor B cell lines were indistinguishable from their normal Ig+ counterparts in their expression of a wide variety of cell surface markers including "activation" antigens usually associated with the lymphoblastoid state; even the single LCL showing germ-line heavy and light chain genes expressed B lineage-specific cell surface antigens. However, the Ig- lines were distinct from their Ig+ counterparts in three important respects: (a) they grew much more slowly and achieved lower saturation densities, (b) they showed unusually high proportions (8-16%) of cells in EBV-productive cycle, and (c) they contained unusually high proportions (up to 40%) of cells expressing free joining (J) chain. These results suggest that precursor B cells differ in their response to the growth-transforming effects of EBV such that the virus-cell interaction in precursor B cell lines is inherently less stable than in conventional LCL. In particular there may be a greater movement of cells out of cycle and along the B cell maturation pathway. It is possible that such movement leads in individual cells either to virus replication or to a "sterile" plasmacytoid differentiation with J chain expression in the absence of Ig synthesis.

Foroni L, Foldi J, Matutes E, Catovsky D, O'Connor NJ, Baer R, Forster A, Rabbitts TH, Luzzatto L. 1987. Alpha, beta and gamma T-cell receptor genes: rearrangements correlate with haematological phenotype in T cell leukaemias. Br J Haematol, 67 (3), pp. 307-318. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have studied the arrangement of the alpha, beta and gamma T cell receptor (TCR) genes in 27 patients with T cell lymphoproliferative disorders. Nine patients had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL), nine patients had prolymphocytic leukaemia (PLL), six patients presented with a T-CLL/T-lymphocytosis syndrome, two patients had Sezary syndrome (SS) and one patient had HTLV-I positive T-cell leukaemia/lymphoma (ATLL). alpha TCR gene rearrangement could be demonstrated by the use of three available probes in only one case. By contrast, both beta and gamma TCR gene rearrangement could be demonstrated by Southern blot analysis of DNA samples digested with appropriate restriction enzymes in the majority of cases. In general, when rearrangements were present they involved both alleles. The proportion of rearranged chromosomes was lower in T-ALL than in other forms of T-cell leukaemia and it was lower in cases with the CD4-/CD8+ phenotype than in those with a CD4+/CD8- phenotype. In three out of 34 cases of B-cell leukaemia the TCR beta-gene but not the TCR gamma-gene was rearranged, just as in two out of 26 cases of T-cell leukaemia the immunoglobulin (Ig) heavy chain but not the light chain genes were rearranged. These data suggest that development of the machinery required for gene rearrangement may precede commitment to B or T cell lineage. The use of this technique is especially useful for the classification of cases of ALL in which the cells are negative with respect to most current phenotypic markers and in cases of T cell lymphocytosis in which the finding of a gene rearrangement identifies a monoclonal cell population.

Tunnacliffe A, Buluwela L, Rabbitts TH. 1987. Physical linkage of three CD3 genes on human chromosome 11. EMBO J, 6 (10), pp. 2953-2957. | Show Abstract

T-cell antigen receptors are associated on T cell surfaces with a complex of proteins called CD3 (formerly T3). Human CD3 consists of at least four proteins, gamma, delta, epsilon and zeta, and all but the latter have been cloned as cDNA. Using standard cloning techniques, together with field inversion gel electrophoresis, we have demonstrated the physical linkage of three CD3 genes. The genes for CD3 gamma and CD3 delta are situated close together, about 1.6 kb apart, organized in a head-to-head orientation. The gene encoding CD3 gamma has been sequenced, and is split into seven exons spread over 9 kb of DNA. Like CD3 delta, CD3 gamma gene has an unusual promoter which lacks a TATA-box and potential Sp1 binding sites. The CD3 gamma-CD3 delta gene pair is within 300 kb of the CD3 epsilon gene, and therefore these genes form a tightly linked cluster in chromosome 11 band q23. The clustering of the CD3 genes may be significant in terms of their simultaneous activation during T-cell development.

Mengle-Gaw L, Willard HF, Smith CI, Hammarström L, Fischer P, Sherrington P, Lucas G, Thompson PW, Baer R, Rabbitts TH. 1987. Human T-cell tumours containing chromosome 14 inversion or translocation with breakpoints proximal to immunoglobulin joining regions at 14q32. EMBO J, 6 (8), pp. 2273-2280. | Show Abstract

T-cell tumours are frequently found to carry an inversion of chromosome 14 (inv(14)) (q11;q32) or more rarely a chromosome 14 translocation t(14;14) with the same cytogenetic breakpoints (q11;q32). We have examined the molecular junctions of an inv(14) and a translocation t(14;14) using T-cell receptor (TCR) alpha joining (J) region probes. Both of these chromosomal abnormalities have breakpoints within the TCR J alpha locus at 14q11 and both have breakpoints which are proximal (i.e. on the centromeric side) to the immunoglobulin heavy chain JH region at 14q32. The cloned segments corresponding to the junctions at 14q32 are not associated with obvious immunoglobulin-like sequences. This contrasts to the previously described inv(14) in the cell line SUP-T1 and places a potential cluster of chromosome 14 breakpoints downstream of the Ig JH locus. The possible role of the varying breakpoints in the development of these tumours is discussed.

Van Straaten JP, Rabbitts TH. 1987. The c-myc protein is associated with the nuclear matrix through specific metal interaction. Oncogene Res, 1 (3), pp. 221-228. | Show Abstract

We have investigated the subnuclear localisation of the protein product of the c-myc oncogene. We show that, although c-myc is not present in the nuclear skeleton or matrix II fraction, it is associated with the nuclear matrix I fraction which is a complex group of proteins implicated in physiological processes within the nucleus. The interaction of the c-myc protein and the matrix I fraction is through a specific metal interaction and presumably, therefore, represents the in vivo location of this protein.

Baer R, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1987. The mechanism of chromosome 14 inversion in a human T cell lymphoma. Cell, 50 (1), pp. 97-105. | Show Abstract | Read more

The chromosome 14 inversion produces cytogenetic breakpoints at either end of the long arm of this chromosome. Previous studies have shown that a hybrid gene (designated IgT) consisting of an immunoglobulin VH gene segment and T cell receptor J alpha C alpha segments encompasses the telomeric breakpoint in SUP-T1, a cell line derived from a human T cell lymphoma. Here, we report that the centromeric breakpoint in SUP-T1 constitutes the reciprocal of a VH-J alpha join but involves gene segments different from those at the telomeric breakpoint. Therefore, chromosome inversion and IgT formation were mediated by two sequential VH-J alpha joining events. Moreover, sequences adjacent to the centromeric breakpoint detect a T-cell-specific RNA, encoded within the immunoglobulin VH locus, whose transcriptional activity may have facilitated the illegitimate VH-J alpha rearrangements.

Forster A, Huck S, Ghanem N, Lefranc MP, Rabbitts TH. 1987. New subgroups in the human T cell rearranging V gamma gene locus. EMBO J, 6 (7), pp. 1945-1950. | Show Abstract

Two new V gamma genes in humans are described from rearrangement in T cell lines, which constitute single members of new V gene subgroups of the T-cell rearranging gamma (TRG gamma) locus. These two genes (herein designated as belonging to V gamma III and V gamma IV subgroups) are located between V gamma I/V gamma II subgroups and the constant (C) gamma genes. The existence of these new genes brings the number of different, potentially useable, human TRG V gamma genes to eight (excluding at least five pseudo V gamma genes) and the number of distinct subgroups to four. Polymorphism in the sequence of the V gamma II subgroup gene is also described and rearranged fragment sizes which make possible an unequivocal assignment of a V gamma rearrangement are given. These results extend previous conclusions of the inherited diversity of the human TRG V gamma locus.

Mengle-Gaw L, Rabbitts TH. 1987. A human chromosome 8 region with abnormalities in B cell, HTLV-I+ T cell and c-myc amplified tumours. EMBO J, 6 (7), pp. 1959-1965. | Show Abstract

We describe a region of human chromosome 8q24 involved in variant Burkitt's lymphoma translocations, and where an interstitial deletion occurs in an HTLV-I+ ATL and three c-myc amplicons terminate. The deletion in the ATL DNA begins within 1.3 kb of the cloned Burkitt's lymphoma translocation breakpoint and ends within 700 bases of the cloned human equivalent of the rat retroviral insertion site, mis-1. In addition, three c-myc amplicons terminate in this region and the end of one of these (the colon carcinoma COL0320) maps within 12 kb of the distal end of the ATL deletion. This region is probably approximately 300 kb downstream of c-myc and the consistent occurrence of abnormalities in this region implies involvement in tumour aetiology in several different cell types.

Smith WJ, Tunnacliffe A, Rabbitts TH. 1987. Germline sequence of two human T-cell receptor V beta genes: V beta 8.1 is transcribed from a TATA-box promoter. Nucleic Acids Res, 15 (12), pp. 4991. | Read more

Foa R, Casorati G, Giubellino MC, Basso G, Schirò R, Pizzolo G, Lauria F, Lefranc MP, Rabbitts TH, Migone N. 1987. Rearrangements of immunoglobulin and T cell receptor beta and gamma genes are associated with terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase expression in acute myeloid leukemia. J Exp Med, 165 (3), pp. 879-890. | Show Abstract | Read more

The cell origin of the rare terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT)-positive acute myeloid leukemias (AML) was investigated at the molecular level, by examining the configuration of the Ig H (Igh) and L (Ig kappa, Ig lambda) chain gene regions, and of the T cell receptor (TCR) beta and T cell rearranging (TRG) gamma loci. In 8 of the 10 TdT+ AML analyzed (classified as myeloid according to morphological and cytochemical criteria, and to the reactivity with one or more antimyeloid mAbs), a rearrangement of the Igh chain gene was found. In TdT- AML, evidence of an Igh gene reorganization was instead observed only in 2 of the 42 patients studied. Furthermore, evidence of TCR-beta and/or TRG-gamma gene rearrangement was observed in four AML, all of which belonged to the Igh-rearranged TdT+ group. In three cases (one TdT+ and two TdT-), the Ig kappa L chain gene was also in a rearranged position. These findings demonstrate a highly significant correlation between TdT expression and DNA rearrangements at the Igh and TCR chain gene regions and support the view that this enzyme plays an important role in the V-(D)-J recombination machinery. Overall, the genomic configuration, i.e., JH gene rearrangement sometimes coupled to a kappa L chain and TCR gene reorganization, similar to that found in non-T-ALL, suggests that in most cases of TdT+ AML, the neoplastic clone, despite the expression of myeloid-related features, is characterized by cells molecularly committed along the B cell lineage.

Rabbitts TH. 1987. Molecular immunology of antibodies and T cell receptors. Br Med J (Clin Res Ed), 295 (6602), pp. 834-835. | Read more

Smith CI, Borgonovo L, Carlsson B, Hammarström L, Rabbitts TH. 1987. Molecular probing of disease susceptibility genes in myasthenia gravis patients: an analysis of T-cell receptor and HLA class II genes using restriction fragment length polymorphism. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 505 (1 Myasthenia Gr), pp. 388-397. | Read more

Lefranc MP, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1986. Genetic polymorphism and exon changes of the constant regions of the human T-cell rearranging gene gamma. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 83 (24), pp. 9596-9600. | Show Abstract | Read more

The genomic nucleotide sequences of the constant-region (C) genes of the human T-cell rearranging gene gamma are given. These sequences show considerable allelic and nonallelic variation. Allelic variants exist at both C gamma 1 and C gamma 2 loci in coding regions (as well as in restriction enzyme sites). Both C gamma genes are in the same transcriptional orientation. Moreover, the organization of the nonallelic C gamma genes reveals some interesting features: the C gamma 1 gene, like the mouse C gamma gene, has three exons, whereas the C gamma 2 gene has four exons, including a duplicated second exon that would create a putative protein with an enlarged constant region. However, these two duplicated exons in C gamma 2 have lost the cysteine residue that is thought to be involved in the interchain disulfide bridge.

Rabbitts TH, Baer R, Buluwela L, Mengle-Gaw L, Taylor AM, Rabbitts PH. 1986. Molecular genetics of antigen receptors and associated chromosomal abnormalities in human leukemias. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol, 51 Pt 2 pp. 923-930. | Read more

Kenter AL, Watson JV, Azim T, Rabbitts TH. 1986. Colcemid inhibits growth during early G1 in normal but not in tumorigenic lymphocytes. Exp Cell Res, 167 (1), pp. 241-251. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mitogenically stimulated human and mouse lymphocytes enter the cell cycle (G0, G1A, G1B, S, G2+M) via a newly recognized subphase, G1'. This subphase precedes G1A and is distinct from G0. The G1' subphase is absent in immortalized and tumorigenic lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) by cytofluorimetric criteria. Furthermore, colcemid inhibits transition through the G0/G1' as well as G2 phases in mitogen-stimulated lymphocytes and in LCLs. Tumorigenic LCLs are not sensitive to growth inhibition by colcemid during early G1. These observations suggest that a progressive series of changes have occurred during G0/G1' which lead to deregulation of growth control.

Kennaugh AA, Butterworth SV, Hollis R, Baer R, Rabbitts TH, Taylor AM. 1986. The chromosome breakpoint at 14q32 in an ataxia telangiectasia t(14;14) T cell clone is different from the 14q32 breakpoint in Burkitts and an inv(14) T cell lymphoma. Hum Genet, 73 (3), pp. 254-259. | Show Abstract | Read more

The T cell receptor alpha chain gene locus and the immunoglobulin heavy chain gene locus (IgH) have previously been mapped to the q11 and q32 positions respectively of the human chromosome 14. Both of these sites are also common breakpoints in lymphocytes from ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) patients. Using in situ hybridisation we show that the 14q32 breakpoint in an A-T non-leukaemic T cell clone with t(14;14) translocation, lies outside the IgH locus and proximal to it with respect to the centromere. The 14q11-14qter segment of the homologous chromosome 14 carrying the constant gene region of the alpha chain locus is translocated to this 14q32 position.

Baer R, Lefranc MP, Minowada J, Forster A, Stinson MA, Rabbitts TH. 1986. Organization of the T-cell receptor alpha-chain gene and rearrangement in human T-cell leukaemias. Mol Biol Med, 3 (3), pp. 265-277. | Show Abstract

The structure and rearrangement of the human T-cell receptor alpha-chain gene have been analysed. The constant region segment is comprised of four exons, with the 3' non-coding region present as a separate exon. Two J alpha segments have been identified by sequence analysis about 4 X 10(3) and 15 X 10(3) base-pairs upstream from the constant region segment. Analysis of alpha-chain rearrangements in a panel of T-cells reveals the presence of at least four more J alpha segments within 19 X 10(3) base-pairs of C alpha and suggests the existence of additional J alpha segments further upstream. This dispersed organization of the J alpha region contrasts with the clustered organization observed in other lymphoid rearranging genes. The use of J alpha probes in diagnostic purposes for T-cell leukaemia is not, therefore, convenient and will require a number of different probes to ensure complete analysis of the locus.

Tunnacliffe A, Sims JE, Rabbitts TH. 1986. T3 delta pre-mRNA is transcribed from a non-TATA promoter and is alternatively spliced in human T cells. EMBO J, 5 (6), pp. 1245-1252. | Show Abstract

The human T-cell antigen receptor-associated T3 complex consists of at least three polypeptides, gamma, delta and epsilon. cDNA clones for the delta-chain have recently been obtained and we have used such clones to isolate the T3 delta gene. The gene has been sequenced and comprises five exons, spread over approximately 3.7 kb of DNA. Transcription of the T3 delta gene is initiated from a non-TATA promoter. S1 mapping experiments and the sequence of a novel cDNA clone show that T3 delta mRNA exists in two forms in T cells. Alternative splicing of pre-mRNA sequences corresponding to the third exon of the T3 delta gene accounts for the two species of mRNA. A putative protein, produced by translation of the shorter mRNA, would lack a transmembrane region and might be secreted or associated with the outer surface of the cell.

LeFranc MP, Forster A, Baer R, Stinson MA, Rabbitts TH. 1986. Diversity and rearrangement of the human T cell rearranging gamma genes: nine germ-line variable genes belonging to two subgroups. Cell, 45 (2), pp. 237-246. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe nine T cell gamma variable (V) gene segments isolated from human DNA. These genes, which fall into two subgroups, are mapped in two DNA regions covering 54 kb and probably represent the majority of human V gamma genes. One subgroup (V gamma I) contains eight genes, consisting of four active genes and four pseudogenes. The single V gamma II gene is potentially active. Sequence analysis of the V gamma I genes shows variation clustered in hypervariable regions, but somatic variability is restricted to N-region diversity. Studies on rearrangement in T cell lines and in thymic DNA show that major rearrangements can be observed that are attributable to the five active V gamma genes. In addition, human cells with the phenotype of helper T cells can undergo productive V gamma-J gamma joining.

Lefranc MP, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1986. Rearrangement of two distinct T-cell gamma-chain variable-region genes in human DNA. Nature, 319 (6052), pp. 420-422. | Show Abstract | Read more

Selective cloning procedures for T-cell-specific complementary DNAs have revealed the existence of a gene designated gamma as well as the main antigen receptor alpha- and beta-chain genes. The gamma-chain genes undergo rearrangement during T-cell differentiation but the patterns and complexity of such rearrangements differ markedly in mouse and human. In mouse, a panel of cytotoxic T-lymphocyte clones exhibit the same rearrangement pattern with a gamma-chain gene probe and a set of three gamma-chain variable (V) genes have been identified in the DNA. Clonal diversity in mouse seems to be confined to V-J (joining) regions. In contrast, human T-cell lines exhibit diverse rearrangements suggestive of a family of differing V gamma genes variously rearranging to the two gamma-chain constant (C) region genes. Here we report the cloning of two very different V gamma genes rearranged to J segments upstream of the two human C gamma genes. Both V gamma genes are rearranged productively but nucleotide sequence comparison shows that they possess very little homology with each other. This shows that human T-cell V gamma genes exist which differ significantly from each other at the nucleotide level and that such diverse genes can be usefully rearranged in different T cells.

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Rabbitts PH, Forster A, Stinson MA, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Truncation of exon 1 from the c-myc gene results in prolonged c-myc mRNa stability. The EMBO journal, 4 (13 B), pp. 3727-3733. | Show Abstract

The human c-myc gene consists of three exons transcribed from two distinct promoters and the function of the first, noncoding exon is unknown. In COLO 320 cells, there co-exist normal and truncated (i.e., lacking exon 1) c-myc genes, both of which are transcribed. Studies on the turnover of c-myc mRNA show that the normal mRNA has an in vivo half-life of approximately 30 min which is approximately similar to the turnover time of the mRNA in lymphoblastoid cells. However, the truncated mRNA was found to be substantially more stable. This observation was also made with a Burkitt's lymphoma cell line which has a translocated, truncated c-myc gene. Therefore truncation of the c-myc gene can cause the mRNA to be more stable than the full size product suggesting that this can be a crucial factor in the activation of the c-myc oncogene, by exon 1 loss, in chromosomal translocation. The results also suggest a role for exon 1 in the c-myc mRNA degradative mechanism.

Rabbitts PH, Forster A, Stinson MA, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Truncation of exon 1 from the c-myc gene results in prolonged c-myc mRNa stability. EMBO J, 4 (13B), pp. 3727-3733. | Show Abstract

The human c-myc gene consists of three exons transcribed from two distinct promoters and the function of the first, noncoding exon is unknown. In COLO 320 cells, there co-exist normal and truncated (i.e., lacking exon 1) c-myc genes, both of which are transcribed. Studies on the turnover of c-myc mRNA show that the normal mRNA has an in vivo half-life of approximately 30 min which is approximately similar to the turnover time of the mRNA in lymphoblastoid cells. However, the truncated mRNA was found to be substantially more stable. This observation was also made with a Burkitt's lymphoma cell line which has a translocated, truncated c-myc gene. Therefore truncation of the c-myc gene can cause the mRNA to be more stable than the full size product suggesting that this can be a crucial factor in the activation of the c-myc oncogene, by exon 1 loss, in chromosomal translocation. The results also suggest a role for exon 1 in the c-myc mRNA degradative mechanism.

Rabbitts TH, van Straaten P, Rabbitts PH, Watson J. 1985. Discussion on the metabolism of c-myc mRNA and protein. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 226 (1242), pp. 79-82. | Show Abstract

The c-myc gene is expressed in a variety of actively growing cells and tissues including lymphoblastoid cell lines made in vitro by EBV infection (Hamlyn & Rabbitts 1983). The gene is implicated in the derivation of Burkitt's lymphoma because of its association with consistent chromosomal translocations (Dalla-Favera et al. 1982; Neel et al. 1982; Taub et al. 1982) and in, for example, some colon carcinomas where the gene is amplified (Alitalo et al. 1983). To understand the formation of these cancers, we must determine the function of the c-myc protein in the cell. In this discussion we describe some features of c-myc metabolism which indicate that its expression may normally be strictly modulated; it is possible that the potential oncogenic effect of c-myc in various tumours is the result of loss of this ability to modulate its activity.

Neuberger MS, Williams GT, Mitchell EB, Jouhal SS, Flanagan JG, Rabbitts TH. 1985. A hapten-specific chimaeric IgE antibody with human physiological effector function. Nature, 314 (6008), pp. 268-270. | Show Abstract | Read more

Immunoglobulin E (IgE) has a central role in allergic reactions although it rarely exceeds 5 micrograms ml-1 even in the serum of severely allergic individuals. Both mast cells and basophils possess receptors which bind the Fc portion of IgE with high affinity; crosslinking of membrane-bound IgE by allergen results in degranulation of the cell and release of a variety of pharmacologically active mediator including histamine. Myeloma IgE has been successfully used to block the skin sensitizing activity of allergic sera; however, human myeloma IgE is clearly in limited supply. The emergence of techniques allowing the stable introduction of immunoglobulin gene DNA into myeloma cells has allowed us to construct a mouse cell line that secretes a chimaeric IgE, lambda 1 antibody whose heavy chain is composed of a human C epsilon constant region fused to a mouse variable (VH) region. This chimaeric IgE is specific for the hapten 4-hydroxy-3-nitro-phenacetyl (NP) and can, when crosslinked by antigen, trigger the degranulation of human basophils. When not crosslinked, however, the chimaeric IgE can prevent the passive sensitization of these cells by sera from allergic subjects.

Dyson PJ, Littlewood TD, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Chromatin structure of transcriptionally active and inactive human c-myc alleles. EMBO J, 4 (11), pp. 2885-2891. | Show Abstract

To help elucidate the mechanism of regulation of the c-myc gene we have characterised the DNase I hypersensitive sites around this gene in the human promyelocytic leukaemia cell line HL60, which carries amplified c-myc, and in Ramos, a Burkitt's lymphoma cell line with a translocation close to exon 1 of c-myc. Although dividing HL60 cells display a pattern of DNase I hypersensitive sites which is similar to that of previously described c-myc genes in B cells (lymphoblastoid and Burkitt's lymphoma), changes were found in DNase I hypersensitive sites upon differentiation of the HL60 cell line (accompanied by decreased c-myc transcription). Lack of c-myc transcription coincides with the loss of several DNase I hypersensitive sites and the reduction in intensity of a further site. A similar pattern was also seen in the inactive allele of the Burkitt's lymphoma cell line Ramos. A striking feature of both differentiated HL60 cells and of the inactive allele in Ramos is the quantitative maintenance of a DNase I hypersensitive site which occurs approximately 2.5 kb upstream of the c-myc gene promoters.

Tunnacliffe A, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Sequence of the D beta 2-J beta 2 region of the human T-cell receptor beta-chain locus. Nucleic Acids Res, 13 (18), pp. 6651-6661. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have sequenced the region encompassing a D beta 2 segment and the J beta 2 segments of the human T-cell antigen receptor beta-chain genes. The D beta 2 element lies about 650 base pairs upstream of a cluster of seven potentially functional J beta 2 sequences and one J beta 2 pseudogene. Examination of human beta-chain cDNA sequences which involve rearranged D beta 2 and J beta 2 elements demonstrates that N-region, as well as junctional, diversity can occur during D-J joining. Further, we present evidence for possible somatic mutation in active J beta 2 segments.

Rabbitts TH, Stinson A, Forster A, Foroni L, Luzzatto L, Catovsky D, Hammarström L, Smith CI, Jones D, Karpas A. 1985. Heterogeneity of T-cell beta-chain gene rearrangements in human leukaemias and lymphomas. EMBO J, 4 (9), pp. 2217-2224. | Show Abstract

The state of T-cell receptor beta-chain gene rearrangement in human T-cell leukaemias has been analysed. All forms of leukaemia tested (T-CLL, ALL, PLL, Sezary syndrome and ATL) exhibit rearrangements of C beta genes confirming the clonality of these neoplasias. However we find no evidence for common gene rearrangements nor for restricted rearrangement patterns within this type of neoplasia. We find evidence of T-cells with C beta 1 and C beta 2 rearrangements, sometimes associated with Igh JH rearrangements, but several cases of T-cell leukaemia with a marker inversion of chromosome 14 (q11;q32) do not have Igh JH rearrangements. The results suggest that TCR beta gene rearrangement occurs early in T-cell ontogeny but that this rearrangement is most often irrelevant to leukaemogenesis.

Lefranc MP, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Two tandemly organized human genes encoding the T-cell gamma constant-region sequences show multiple rearrangement in different T-cell types. Nature, 316 (6027), pp. 464-466. | Show Abstract | Read more

The recent detailed analysis of genes that undergo rearrangement in T cells has shown that the T-cell receptor genes encoding alpha- and beta-chains are involved in specific alterations in T-cell DNA analogous to the immunoglobulin genes. A third type of gene, designated gamma, has been isolated from mouse cytotoxic T lymphocytes, and evidence suggest that the mouse displays very limited diversity in this gene system, having only three variable-region (V) genes and three constant-region (C) genes. The function of the so-called T-cell gamma gene is unknown. We have isolated genomic genes encoding the human homologue of the mouse T-cell gamma gene; as there is no evidence that this T-cell rearranging gene is anything to do with the T3 molecule, we have designated the human T-cell rearranging gene as TRG gamma (ref. 13), to avoid confusion with the T3 gamma-chain, and have shown that the gene locus maps to chromosome 7 in humans. We now report that human DNA contains two tandemly arranged TRG gamma constant-region genes about 16 kilobases apart. These two genes show multiple rearrangement patterns in a variety of T cells, including helper and cytotoxic/suppressor type, as well as in all forms of T-cell leukaemia. Our results indicate variability of this T-cell gene system in man compared with the analogous system in mouse.

Tunnacliffe A, Kefford R, Milstein C, Forster A, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Sequence and evolution of the human T-cell antigen receptor beta-chain genes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 82 (15), pp. 5068-5072. | Show Abstract | Read more

We present the nucleotide sequences of the two genomic constant (C)-region gene segments, C beta 1 and C beta 2, encoding the beta chain of the human T-cell antigen receptor. The two C beta genes are organized identically to each other and to the corresponding mouse genes, both having four exons, whose boundaries were confirmed from the sequence of a C beta 2 cDNA clone from the T-cell line MOLT-4. The predicted amino acid sequences of human C beta 1 and C beta 2 differ at only five positions, which suggests that the proteins have very similar functions. This similarity is the result of strong nucleotide-sequence conservation in protein-coding regions, which extends to silent positions. A quantitative analysis of an alignment of the nucleotide sequences of the two human genes shows that whereas the 5' ends (including the first exon) are extremely homologous, the 3' ends are widely divergent, with other regions having intermediate levels of homology. Analysis of published data [Gascoigne, N.R.J., Chien, Y., Becker, D.M., Kavaler, J. & Davis, M.M. (1984) Nature (London) 310, 387-391] shows that the mouse C beta 1 and C beta 2 genes are also virtually identical in their first exons but more divergent in the remaining coding regions. Therefore, partial gene conversion events may have occurred during the evolution of both human and mouse C beta genes.

Rabbitts PH, Watson JV, Lamond A, Forster A, Stinson MA, Evan G, Fischer W, Atherton E, Sheppard R, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Metabolism of c-myc gene products: c-myc mRNA and protein expression in the cell cycle. EMBO J, 4 (8), pp. 2009-2015. | Show Abstract

The presence and synthesis of c-myc protein and mRNA in the cell cycle has been studied. We find that c-myc mRNA is present, at equivalent levels, at all times in the cell cycle with the possible exception of mitosis. Furthermore, we demonstrate that this mRNA is transcribed in both G1 and G2 phases. An analysis of the c-myc protein in vivo shows that de novo synthesis occurs in G1 and G2 and the protein turns over with a half-life of approximately 20-30 min in both phases. Furthermore, the level of c-myc protein rapidly increases in cell populations when they re-initiate the cell cycle, thereafter decreasing as the culture reaches quiescence. The results therefore suggest that expression of c-myc can be rapidly modulated and that it is activated during the G0 to G1 transition, but is expressed thereafter in the cell cycle.

Rabbitts TH, Lefranc MP, Stinson MA, Sims JE, Schroder J, Steinmetz M, Spurr NL, Solomon E, Goodfellow PN. 1985. The chromosomal location of T-cell receptor genes and a T cell rearranging gene: possible correlation with specific translocations in human T cell leukaemia. EMBO J, 4 (6), pp. 1461-1465. | Show Abstract

We have examined the chromosomal location of human T cell-specific genes which are involved in antigen recognition and of a gene which specifically rearranges in T cells. The genes encoding both the variable and constant region segments of the T cell receptor alpha chain are found on chromosome 14 while the delta chain gene of the T cell receptor-associated T3 complex is localised to chromosome 11. Further, the two tandemly arranged T cell-specific rearranging genes, designated gamma, were mapped to chromosome 7, but apparently not closely linked to the previously mapped T cell receptor beta-chain gene. The locations of the three different genes, which undergo rearrangement in T cells, may correlate with the chromosomal breakpoints known to be involved in translocations within abnormal human T cells.

Malcolm S, Davis M, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Breakage on chromosome 2 brings the Ck gene to a region 3' of c-myc in a Burkitt's lymphoma line carrying a (2;8) translocation. Cytogenet Cell Genet, 39 (3), pp. 168-172. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have shown using in situ hybridization that the constant region of the kappa light chain immunoglobulin gene (Ck) is translocated from chromosome 2 to chromosome 8 in Burkitt's lymphoma cells with a (2;8) translocation. The Ck gene then ends up adjacent to and on the 3' side of c-myc. The breakpoint probably falls between the gene for the variable region of the kappa light chain (Vk) and the Ck gene.

Baer R, Chen KC, Smith SD, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Fusion of an immunoglobulin variable gene and a T cell receptor constant gene in the chromosome 14 inversion associated with T cell tumors. Cell, 43 (3 Pt 2), pp. 705-713. | Show Abstract | Read more

An inversion of chromosome 14, inv(14)(q11,q32), is frequently observed in human T cell tumors; the cytogenetic breakpoints are of interest because the T cell receptor alpha-chain and immunoglobulin heavy chain genes reside on chromosome bands 14q11 and 14q32, respectively. We have investigated the structure of the alpha-chain genes in a T cell line harboring the chromosome 14 inversion. On the normal chromosome 14, a V alpha segment has rearranged nonproductively with a J alpha segment. In contrast, the inverted chromosome features an unprecedented rearrangement in which an immunoglobulin heavy chain variable gene segment (VH) on chromosome band 14q32 has joined with a J alpha segment from band 14q11. The VH-J alpha C alpha rearrangement is productive at the genomic level and therefore may encode a hybrid immunoglobulin/T cell receptor polypeptide.

Rabbitts TH, Sims J, Smith W, Tunnacliffe A. 1985. Human T-cell receptor beta-chain genes. Ann Inst Pasteur Immunol (1985), 136C (1), pp. 131-141. | Show Abstract

cDNA clones encoding the beta chain of the T-cell antigen receptor from the human leukaemic cell line JM (which extend through the constant region and into the variable region of the receptor) show hybridization only to RNA from JM cells, and not in five other T-cell leukaemias. Multiple hybridizing bands were detected in genomic DNA digests by a V beta probe, suggesting that inherited V beta gene diversity will be significant. Two beta-chain constant region genes (designated C beta 1 and C beta 2) occur in human genomic DNA, and both of these genes are capable of rearrangement in T-cell DNA. When the downstream C beta 2 gene is rearranged, deletion of the C beta 1 gene can occur. These characteristics of rearrangement and deletion of beta-chain genes show analogies to the immunoglobulin gene loci.

Dyson PJ, Rabbitts TH. 1985. Chromatin structure around the c-myc gene in Burkitt lymphomas with upstream and downstream translocation points. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 82 (7), pp. 1984-1988. | Show Abstract | Read more

Burkitt lymphoma cells seem to have abnormal c-myc gene activity resulting from chromosomal translocation. We have examined the consequences of translocation on putative control sequences near to the c-myc gene by DNase I hypersensitivity mapping of chromatin. There is no detectable difference in the pattern of hypersensitivity (compared with the actively transcribed c-myc gene of lymphoblastoid cells) in Burkitt lymphoma cells where the translocation point occurs at a considerable distance upstream or downstream of c-myc. When the translocation occurs near the 5' end of the c-myc gene, resulting in loss of hypersensitive sites, those that remain show the same sensitivity as in lymphoblastoid cell lines. We conclude that translocation has little general effect on the usual pattern of hypersensitive sites near to the c-myc gene but new sites can be observed in some cases in the immunoglobulin region near to the breakpoint. These may be sites normally involved in immunoglobulin gene transcription and may exert a subtle effect on the translocated c-myc gene.

Rabbitts TH, Sims J, Smith W, Tunnacliffe A. 1985. Human T-cell receptor β-chain genes Annales de l'Institut Pasteur / Immunologie, 136 (1), pp. 131-141. | Show Abstract | Read more

cDNA clones encoding the β chain of the T-cell antigen receptor from the human leukaemic cell line JM (which extend through the constant region and into the variable region of the receptor) show hybridization only to RNA from JM cells, and not in five other T-cell leukaemias. Multiple hybridizing bands were detected in genomic DNA digests by a V β probe, suggesting that inherited V β gene diversity will be significant. Two β-chain constant region genes (designated C β 1 and C β 2) occur inhuman genomic DNA, and both of these genes are capable of rearrangement in T-cell DNA. When the downstream C β 2 gene is rearranged, deletion of the C β 1 gene can occur. These characteristics of rearrangement and deletion of β-chain genes show analogies to the immunoglobulin gene loci. © 1985, Elsevier Paris. All rights reserved.

Rabbitts TH, Baer R, Davis M, Forster A, Rabbitts PH, Malcolm S. 1984. c-myc Gene activation and chromosomal translocation. J Cell Sci Suppl, 1 pp. 95-101. | Show Abstract

Burkitt's lymphoma cells are characterized by the presence of specific chromosomal translocation bringing the immunoglobulin and the c-myc proto-oncogenes into the proximity of each other. Different translocations involve each of the three immunoglobulin loci but the breakpoint with respect to the c-myc gene is shown to be very variable. In t8/14 the breakpoint occurs upstream from the c-myc gene whilst in the variant lymphomas it occurs downstream from the gene. Possible ways in which the translocation affects the c-myc gene are discussed.

Sims JE, Tunnacliffe A, Smith WJ, Rabbitts TH. 1984. Complexity of human T-cell antigen receptor beta-chain constant- and variable-region genes. Nature, 312 (5994), pp. 541-545. | Show Abstract | Read more

Immune systems of vertebrates function via two types of effector cells, B and T cells, which are capable of antigen-specific recognition. The immunoglobulins, which serve as antigen receptors on B cells, have been well characterized with respect to gene structure, unlike the T-cell receptors. Recently, cDNA clones thought to correspond to the beta-chain locus of the human and mouse T-cell receptor have been described. The presumptive beta-chain clones detect gene rearrangement specifically in T-cell DNA and show homology with immunoglobulin light chains. The similarity of the T-cell beta-chain gene system to the immunoglobulin genes has been further demonstrated by the recent observation of variable- and constant-region gene segments as well as joining segments and putative diversity segments. We report here the characterization of cDNA and genomic clones encoding human T-cell receptor beta-chain genes. There are two constant-region genes (C beta 1 and C beta 2), each capable of rearrangement and expression as RNA. The gene arrangement, analogous to that of mouse beta-chain genes, shows strong evolutionary conservation of the dual C beta gene system in these two species.

Rabbitts TH. 1984. DNA juggling in the immune system. Lancet, 2 (8411), pp. 1086-1088. | Show Abstract | Read more

It is in the immune system that DNA in chromosomes shows its most versatile facet-ie, the ability to rearrange itself in different ways in different individual cells. This ability is the secret of survival in higher organisms because it provides the almost infinite diversity required to combat a plethora of infective agents. As a technological spin-off it has provided the means for molecular biologists to create new antibodies in the test tube using recombinant DNA methods. Unfortunately, however, the DNA rearrangement of antibody gene systems has also acquired a lethal aspect because it is used by other genes (those now called oncogenes because they have been associated with cancer) to aid tumour formation. These three related but different topics will be dealt with in this article.

Milstein CP, Deverson EV, Rabbitts TH. 1984. Potential Z-DNA between exons of human secreted and membrane immunoglobulin heavy-chain μ-gene Biochemical Society Transactions, 12 (5), pp. 863.

Foroni L, Catovsky D, Rabbitts TH, Luzzatto L. 1984. DNA rearrangements of immunoglobulin genes correlate with phenotypic markers in B-cell malignancies. Mol Biol Med, 2 (1), pp. 63-79. | Show Abstract

We have investigated the configuration of immunoglobulin (Ig) genes in leukaemic cells in 17 patients with B-cell leukaemias (11 chronic lymphocytic leukaemias (B-CLL); 4 prolymphocytic leukaemias (B-PLL), and two hairy cell leukaemias (HCL)). In addition we studied four patients with T chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (T-CLL); four patients with acute leukaemia (3 acute lymphoblastic leukaemias (ALL), and 1 mixed acute leukaemia (M.AL)); and six patients with chronic granulocytic leukaemias in blastic crisis (CGL.BC). The heavy chain genes (H) were analysed by using probes for the constant region of the mu chains (C mu) and for the joining region (JH). The light chain genes were analysed by using probes for the constant region of the kappa (C kappa) and lambda (C lambda) chains. We have found rearranged Ig genes in all cases of B-CLL, B-PLL and HCL, but in none of the patients with T-CLL. In one case of HCL, both mu genes were deleted, indicating that in this case the class switch has taken place. In four out of six cases with either ALL or lymphoid CGL.BC and in one case of M.AL, an Ig gene rearrangement was also found. No rearrangement was detected in two cases of myeloid CGL.BC. When the combination of rearrangement versus germ-line configuration was considered, a variety of patterns emerge, but in no case did we find a L chain gene rearranged without at least one H chain gene being rearranged as well. Whereas in the majority of cases of B-CLL only one H chain gene is rearranged, in nearly all cases of B-PLL both H chain genes are rearranged. By systematic analysis of restriction fragment sizes of rearranged genes, we have established that a large number of different variable regions for the H chain (VH) are involved in Ig gene rearrangement in B-cell malignancies. Our data confirm that testing for Ig gene rearrangement may be the most sensitive and specific test for identifying leukaemic cells of B lineage.

Milstein CP, Deverson EV, Rabbitts TH. 1984. The sequence of the human immunoglobulin mu-delta intron reveals possible vestigial switch segments. Nucleic Acids Res, 12 (16), pp. 6523-6535. | Show Abstract | Read more

We present the full sequence of an insert of a lambda phage clone which contains a segment of human DNA stretching from the secreted mu(mu s) constant region gene through to the beginning of the constant region gene and including the membrane mu(mu m) segments. The segment of 8.6kb extending from mu s to the first constant domain of delta(C delta 1) has been completely sequenced and reveals little conservation in comparison to the corresponding mouse sequence. The outstanding feature of the mu s-mu m intron is the occurrence of a potential Z-DNA forming region situated at 285bp downstream of the mu s poly A addition signal. A similar DNA stretch exists in mouse and may represent a site for transcriptional control of mu gene expression. The mu m-C delta 1 intron is much longer (6Kb) than the corresponding mouse intron and includes a series of different repeats, which start at 430bp downstream of the mu m poly A addition site and continue for 3.5Kb, ending about 1.5Kb from the beginning of C delta 1. This series of repeats may be a vestigial switch sequence used in the production of the secreting cells which are the progenitors of the rare human IgD myelomas.

Lefranc MP, Rabbitts TH. 1984. Human immunoglobulin heavy chain A2 gene allotype determination by restriction fragment length polymorphism. Nucleic Acids Res, 12 (3), pp. 1303-1311. | Show Abstract | Read more

The human immunoglobulin heavy chain alpha 2 genes have two allelic forms or allotypes called A2m(1) and A2m(2). Previously, these allotypic markers have only been distinguishable by serology. Studies of the alpha 2 genes, however, show that it is possible to differentiate between the allotypes by restriction enzyme site polymorphisms, both in the protein coding regions and in flanking regions. These polymorphic sites have been used to determine the alpha 2 allotypes of several human DNAs.

Flanagan JG, Lefranc MP, Rabbitts TH. 1984. Mechanisms of divergence and convergence of the human immunoglobulin alpha 1 and alpha 2 constant region gene sequences. Cell, 36 (3), pp. 681-688. | Show Abstract | Read more

Nucleotide sequences of the human alpha 1 and two allelic alpha 2 immunoglobulin heavy chain constant region genes are presented. The genes contain three exons, each encoding a single constant region protein domain. The protein hinge region is encoded at the 5' end of the second exon, and the rapid evolutionary changes in length of the hinge correspond to duplications or deletions within the hinge-coding region, probably facilitated by repeats in the DNA sequence. Alignment of the alpha 1 and alpha 2 gene sequences reveals an unusual coupled deletion-duplication in the 5'-flanking region, which can be explained in terms of a slipped-strand mispairing model. Comparison of nucleotide sequences of the alpha 1 gene and two alleles of the alpha 2 gene indicates a localized transfer of genetic information from the 3' end of the alpha 1 gene to one of the alpha 2 alleles, probably by a gene conversion. At one end of the region within which conversion apparently occurred, there is a 40 bp sequence of the type that can form Z-DNA.

Rabbitts TH, Forster A, Hamlyn P, Baer R. 1984. Effect of somatic mutation within translocated c-myc genes in Burkitt's lymphoma. Nature, 309 (5969), pp. 592-597. | Show Abstract | Read more

Our previous studies of a translocated c-myc gene in the Raji Burkitt's lymphoma cell showed somatic mutations in exons 1 and 2. We have extended these observations to two other translocated c-myc genes and find a common occurrence of mutation in the noncoding exon 1. We also found that in Raji cells, unlike other Burkitt's lymphoma cell lines, the normal allele of the c-myc gene is transcribed as well as the translocated gene. These results support a model in which c-myc oncogene activation in Burkitt's lymphoma occurs by disruption of a normal transcriptional control mechanism in which the c-myc protein is itself involved.

Rabbitts TH, Bentley DL, Flanagan J. 1984. Evolutionary diversification of germ-line versions of human immunoglobulin genes. Ann Immunol (Paris), 135C (1), pp. 175-180.

Rabbitts TH, Bentley DL, Flanagan J. 1984. Evolutionary diversification of germ-line versions of human immunoglobulin genes Annales de l'Institut Pasteur / Immunologie, 135 (1), pp. 175-180. | Show Abstract | Read more

The nucleotide sequences of both of the heavy-chain alpha-constant region genes (α 1 and α 2 ) and of certain light-chain variable-region genes indicate that gene conversion has played a significant role in the evolution of these genes. © 1984, All rights reserved.

Davis M, Malcolm S, Rabbitts TH. 1984. Chromosome translocation can occur on either side of the c-myc oncogene in Burkitt lymphoma cells. Nature, 308 (5956), pp. 286-288. | Show Abstract | Read more

In Burkitt lymphoma cells reciprocal chromosomal translocations are observed between the long arm of chromosome 8 (8q24) and either the long arm of chromosome 14 (14q32), the short arm of chromosome 2 (2p12) or the long arm of chromosome 22 (22q11). Gene mapping studies have shown that c-myc, the cellular homologue of the viral myc oncogene, is localized at 8q24 (ref 3-5) and that the three immunoglobulin gene loci map at the breakpoints involved in the translocation: immunoglobulin heavy-chain genes are located at 14q32 (refs 6, 7), kappa light chains at 2p12 (ref. 8) and delta light chains at, or close to, 22q11 (ref 9, 10). This correlation suggests an association of immunoglobulin gene rearrangements with the occurrence of these specific translocations. By using in situ hybridization we have examined the translocation point with respect to c-myc in two cell lines containing 2;8 translocation, and report here that the c-myc gene remains on the chromosome 8 involved in the reciprocal exchange with chromosome 2. We have also confirmed that the c-myc gene moves from the translocated chromosome 8 in a cell line having a 8;14 translocation. These results show that chromosomal breakage can occur on either side of the c-myc gene in Burkitt lymphoma cells.

Rabbitts TH, Baer R, Davis M, Forster A, Hamlyn PH, Malcolm S. 1984. The c-myc gene paradox in Burkitt's lymphoma chromosomal translocation. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol, 113 pp. 166-171.

Rabbitts TH, Hamlyn PH, Baer R. 1983. Altered nucleotide sequences of a translocated c-myc gene in Burkitt lymphoma. Nature, 306 (5945), pp. 760-765. | Show Abstract | Read more

The nucleotide sequence of a translocated c-myc gene in a Burkitt lymphoma reveals multiple base changes in the coding region. Twenty-five base changes, generating 16 codon alterations, were found in the first coding exon; no changes occur in the second coding exon. These changes are probably the result of somatic mutations that occurred during and after translocation, and may contribute to oncogenesis by allowing synthesis of an altered c-myc gene product.

Rabbitts TH, Forster A, Baer R, Hamlyn PH. 1983. Transcription enhancer identified near the human C mu immunoglobulin heavy chain gene is unavailable to the translocated c-myc gene in a Burkitt lymphoma. Nature, 306 (5945), pp. 806-809. | Show Abstract | Read more

In Burkitt lymphoma the c-myc gene, the cellular homologue of the viral oncogene v-myc, has been implicated in the aetiology of this human B-cell malignancy. Burkitt lymphoma cells possess specific chromosomal rearrangements involving the region proximal to the c-myc gene and one of the three human immunoglobulin loci. The nature of the effect exerted by the immunoglobulin loci on the translocated c-myc gene is controversial: whereas some reports have suggested c-myc transcription is elevated in Burkitt lymphoma cells, others have suggested the level of transcription is unaffected by the translation. Recently, transcription enhancer elements have been identified in the intron between the JH and C mu segments of the heavy-chain immunoglobulin gene in mice. If similar enhancers exist in humans they may lead to increased transcription of the translocated c-myc gene and thus contribute to oncogenesis in Burkitt lymphoma. We report here the identification of an enhancer element adjacent to the human C mu gene on normal chromosome 14, but this enhancer does not remain on the abnormal chromosome 14 to which the c-myc gene has been translocated in the Burkitt lymphoma cell line Raji. This element is, therefore, not available for control of the translocated c-myc gene in this case.

Rabbitts TH, Forster A, Matthews JG. 1983. The breakpoint of the Philadelphia chromosome 22 in chronic myeloid leukaemia is distal to the immunoglobulin lambda light chain constant region genes. Mol Biol Med, 1 (1), pp. 11-19. | Show Abstract

Somatic cell hybrids containing chromosomes from a patient with chronic myeloid leukaemia were used as a source of DNA for filter hybridizations with immunoglobulin lambda light chain constant region and c-onc probes. The results show that at least part of the human lambda constant region locus remains on the abnormal chromosome 22 (the Philadelphia chromosome) and therefore that this translocation occurs distal to these genes. Further, in the patient studied the c-abl gene has been translocated to the abnormal chromosome 22, thus creating a new genetic linkage between C lambda and c-abl genes.

Rabbitts TH. 1983. Cytogenetics and molecular biology combine in the investigation of chromosomal translocation and human leukaemia. Mol Biol Med, 1 (2), pp. 275-281.

Rabbitts TH, Flanagan J. 1983. Human antibody genes in normal and abnormal lymphocytes. Biochem Soc Trans, 11 (4), pp. 441. | Read more

Hamlyn PH, Rabbitts TH. 1983. Translocation joins c-myc and immunoglobulin gamma 1 genes in a Burkitt lymphoma revealing a third exon in the c-myc oncogene. Nature, 304 (5922), pp. 135-139. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recombinant DNA clones have been used to directly demonstrate that the Burkitt lymphoma cell line Raji, t(8;14) (q24;q32), has a rearranged copy of the c-myc gene adjacent to the gamma 1 constant region gene of the human immunoglobulin heavy-chain locus; the genes are arranged in the opposite direction for transcription. At least one further 5' exon has been detected in the normal c-myc gene by analysis of RNA transcripts, and the occurrence of high levels of two c-myc mRNA size classes, both apparently initiating in this exon, is described.

Rabbitts TH. 1983. The nineteenth Colworth Medal Lecture. The human immunoglobulin genes. Biochem Soc Trans, 11 Pt 2 pp. 119-126.

Rabbitts TH. 1983. The human immunoglobulin genes. The nineteenth Colworth medal lecture. Biochem Soc Trans, 11 (2), pp. 119-126. | Show Abstract

The immunoglobulin locus of man is a highly fluid gene system which employs a variety of gene alteration events, in the maturation of the B-lymphocyte, resulting in expansion of diversity in the system. This sytem has evolved a series of signals which allow chromosomal rearrangement to occur in a specific way. However, it now seems that the very systems which contribute so elegantly to antibody activity may also result in the very occasional specific chromosomal translocations resulting in malignant leukaemias such as Burkitt lymphoma.

Bentley DL, Rabbitts TH. 1983. Evolution of immunoglobulin V genes: evidence indicating that recently duplicated human V kappa sequences have diverged by gene conversion. Cell, 32 (1), pp. 181-189. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have analyzed several closely related members of the gene family encoding the variable regions of human immunoglobulin kappa light chains (V kappa genes). Two of these genes differ at a single nucleotide out of 940 bases sequenced, and are believed to be alleles of a locus called HK 101. This substitution results in an amino acid replacement in the first complementarity-determining region of the kappa chain. We also compared the structures of two nonallelic human V kappa loci (HK 101 and HK 137) and found a high degree of sequence homology over a region at least 13.5 kb long. This long block of homology indicates that these two loci arose from a recent gene duplication. The DNA sequences of these two nonallelic V kappa genes exhibit a very unusual distribution of nucleotide substitutions. Seven of the ten substitutions found among 940 bases are clustered in a 39 base stretch encoding the first complementarity-determining region and the second framework region of the protein. We suggest that this cluster of substitutions was generated by a gene conversion in which a small segment of one gene was replaced with the homologous segment from another V kappa gene.

Flanagan JG, Rabbitts TH. 1982. Arrangement of human immunoglobulin heavy chain constant region genes implies evolutionary duplication of a segment containing gamma, epsilon and alpha genes. Nature, 300 (5894), pp. 709-713. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cosmid clones containing the human gamma, epsilon and alpha heavy chain constant region genes and an epsilon pseudogene have been isolated. All these genes have a switch sequence detectable by hybridization. We have studied overlapping cosmids covering two separate regions of the genome, and the gene order in each of these regions was found to be gamma-gamma-epsilon-alpha. This implies an evolutionary duplication in this multigene family involving gamma, epsilon and alpha genes.

Flanagan JG, Rabbitts TH. 1982. The sequence of a human immunoglobulin epsilon heavy chain constant region gene, and evidence for three non-allelic genes. EMBO J, 1 (5), pp. 655-660. | Show Abstract

An immunoglobulin epsilon heavy chain gene was isolated from a DNA library of the human epsilon chain-producing myeloma 266B1 , using a JH gene region probe. The gene was shown to be the one expressed in the myeloma by Southern hybridisation analysis and by comparison of nucleotide sequences with the known amino acid sequence of the epsilon chain made by the myeloma. The gene consists of a variable region segment separated from a constant region segment by a 3.5-kb intervening sequence. The complete sequence of the constant region gene segment shows that this segment is split by intervening sequences into four coding segments corresponding to the four constant region domains of the protein. Using the cloned epsilon constant region gene segment as a probe we obtained evidence, from Southern hybridisation analysis, for three non-allelic epsilon constant region genes. An order on the chromosome for these three genes can be predicted from their pattern of retention in myeloma 266B1 DNA.

Malcolm S, Barton P, Murphy C, Ferguson-Smith MA, Bentley DL, Rabbitts TH. 1982. Localization of human immunoglobulin kappa light chain variable region genes to the short arm of chromosome 2 by in situ hybridization. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 79 (16), pp. 4957-4961. | Show Abstract | Read more

The genes for human immunoglobulin kappa light chains have been localized in normal lymphocyte and fibroblast chromosomes by in situ hybridization of probes from cloned DNA fragments of the kappa variable region locus. The localization was achieved by counting grains (after autoradiography) over chromosomes in a number of karyotypes. The variable region gene probes hybridized in a cluster on a region of the chromosome 2 short arm close to the centromere (2cen leads to p12). This location was confirmed in lymphocytes from a balanced translocation carrier 46XXt (2; 16) (q13; q22). Our results show that human kappa light chain genes are located in the region of the break point observed in specific chromosomal translocations associated with Burkitt lymphoma.

Lefranc MP, Lefranc G, Rabbitts TH. 1982. Inherited deletion of immunoglobulin heavy chain constant region genes in normal human individuals. Nature, 300 (5894), pp. 760-762. | Show Abstract | Read more

The existence of specific probes for human genes makes it feasible to study genetic abnormalities, both inherited and acquired, at the level of the genome. In this respect, the antibody genes of man are of particular interest as they represent a multigene family expressed in many leukaemias and immunodeficiency diseases. Furthermore, selective deficiency of immunoglobulins has been described in healthy individuals. Normally, human adults express five types of immunoglobulin--IgM, IgD, IgG, IgE and IgA (defined by the class of heavy chain constant region). Subclasses are also known in IgG (IgG1, IgG2, IgG3 and IgG4) and IgA (IgA1 and IgA2) in which the immunoglobulins contain gamma 1, gamma 2, gamma 3 or gamma 4 and alpha 1 or alpha 2 CH regions, respectively. Recently, a healthy Tunisian person was described who showed abnormal patterns of immunoglobulin expression. The serum immunoglobulin of this individual, designated TAK3, was confined to IgM, IgD, IgG3, IgE and IgA2. We have now used cloned CH-gene probes to study the DNA of TAK3 as well as two brothers, also Tunisian but apparently unrelated to the individual TAK3, and who show a similar immunoglobulin abnormality. We found that in these cases there seems to have been a large chromosomal deletion which includes three gamma genes, an alpha gene and a pseudo-epsilon gene. This deletion accounts for the simultaneous absence of certain H-chain subclasses. These results illustrate that the human immunoglobulin gene locus is capable of undergoing rapid change, which is particularly apparent within small populations in which consanguinity is common.

Sims J, Rabbitts TH, Estess P, Slaughter C, Tucker PW, Capra JD. 1982. Somatic mutation in genes for the variable portion of the immunoglobulin heavy chain. Science, 216 (4543), pp. 309-311. | Show Abstract | Read more

The size of the gene pool potentially encoding antibodies to p-azophenyl arsonate has been examined. A heavy chain-specific full-length complementary DNA clone has been constructed with the use of messenger RNA from a hybridoma that produces antibodies to the arsonate hapten and bears nearly a full complement of the determinants comprising the cross-reactive idiotype (CRI). The sequences of both the complementary DNA clone and the corresponding immunoglobulin heavy chain have been independently determined. A probe for the variable region gene was prepared from the original heavy chain complementary DNA clone and used to analyze, by Southern filter hybridization, genomic DNA from both A/J (CRI positive) and BALB/c (CRI negative) mice. Approximately 20 to 25 restriction fragments containing "germline" variable region gene segments were detected in both strains, and many are shared by both, Since 35 CRI-positive heavy chains have been partially sequenced thus far and 31 are different, the results of the hybridization analysis suggest that somatic mutation events involving the variable region gene segments of the heavy chain play a role in the origin of the amino acid sequence diversity seen in this system.

Bentley DL, Farrell PJ, Rabbitts TH. 1982. Unrearranged immunoglobulin variable region genes have a functional promoter. Nucleic Acids Res, 10 (6), pp. 1841-1856. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have tested whether immunoglobulin light chain variable region genes are capable of directing initiation of transcription without undergoing the DNA rearrangement which creates a complete immunoglobulin gene. Two human Vk genes specifically initiated transcription in vitro at a site which is approximately 30 bases downstream of a TATA box and 20 bases upstream of the initiation codon. A Vk pseudogene which lacks a TATA box at an homologous position was not transcribed to a detectable extent in the in vitro system. One of the Vk genes was injected into Xenopus oocytes and it initiated transcription at precisely the same position as in the HeLa cell extract. It is suggested that the promoter which we have identified upstream of unrearranged Vk genes operates in lymphocytes after V-J joining has occurred to initiate transcription of light chain messenger RNA.

Krawinkel U, Rabbitts TH. 1982. Comparison of the hinge-coding segments in human immunoglobulin gamma heavy chain genes and the linkage of the gamma 2 and gamma 4 subclass genes. EMBO J, 1 (4), pp. 403-407. | Show Abstract

The genes for the human immunoglobulin heavy chain constant region subclasses have been examined in clones isolated from a phage library containing human genomic DNA. Nucleotide sequencing and restriction enzyme mapping show that the CH1, hinge, CH2, and CH3 domains are present as distinct genetic elements separated by short intervening sequences in these genes: the gamma 3 gene is unique amongst these genes in that it possesses four separate hinge-coding segments. A further gamma gene has been identified which does not correspond to a known human gamma protein: this gene contains a hinge related to the first hinge of the gamma 3 gene and may represent an inactive or pseudo gamma gene. Comparison of a number of overlapping clones containing gamma 2 and gamma 4 genes shows that they are separated in human DNA by approximately 19 kb and that the gamma 2 gene is located upstream of gamma 4. Both genes (order 5'C gamma 2-C gamma 4-3') are orientated in the same direction of transcription.

Rabbitts TH, Bentley DL, Dunnick W, Forster A, Matthyssens GE, Milstein C. 1981. Immunoglobulin genes undergo multiple sequence rearrangements during differentiation. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol, 45 Pt 2 pp. 867-878. | Show Abstract | Read more

In this paper we discuss the mechanism of integration in heavy- and light-chain genes of mouse and man. Data on human V genes indicate that formation of an active κ chain involves events that are analogous to those of the mouse κ genes. Heavy-chain genes of both mouse and humans, on the other hand, seem to be more complex, in that at least two rearrangement events contribute to the expression of these genes, the first involving V(H) gene integration and the second involving the class switch.

Bentley DL, Rabbitts TH, Anderson S, Bankier AT, Barrell BG, de Bruijn MHL, Coulson AR, Drouin J, Eperon IC, Nierlich DP et al. 1981. Erratum: Errata Nature, 291 (5811), pp. 168-168. | Read more

Rabbitts TH, Forster A, Milstein CP. 1981. Human immunoglobulin heavy chain genes: evolutionary comparisons of C mu, C delta and C gamma genes and associated switch sequences. Nucleic Acids Res, 9 (18), pp. 4509-4524. | Show Abstract | Read more

Human immunoglobulin heavy chain constant region genes have been characterised in isolated clones. The human c mu gene comprises discrete domains for C mu 1, C mu 2, C mu 3 and C mu 4 + tp separated by short intervening sequences. The C delta gene has been located about 5 kb downstream of C mu 4. Furthermore, the coding segments for the membrane form of mu have been located 1.9 kb downstream of C mu 4. Tandemly repeated sequences implicated in the heavy chain class switch occur upstream of the C mu and the C gamma genes, but none were detected near the C delta gene. These tandem repeats are very homologous to those of mouse. Particularly common is the sequence G-A-G-C-T. These data suggest that the mu to gamma switch in humans involves DNA rearrangements of the CH-genes and subsequent deletion of DNA, but that the coexpression of C mu and C delta genes results from different mechanisms.

Rabbitts TH. 1981. Antibody diversification by somatic mutation. Immunol Today, 2 (11), pp. 211-212. | Read more

Rabbitts TH, Bentley DL, Milstein CP. 1981. Human antibody genes: V gene variability and CH gene switching strategies. Immunol Rev, 59 (1), pp. 69-91. | Read more

Hobart MJ, Rabbitts TH, Goodfellow PN, Solomon E, Chambers S, Spurr N, Povey S. 1981. Immunoglobulin heavy chain genes in humans are located on chromosome. Ann Hum Genet, 45 (Pt 4), pp. 331-335. | Show Abstract | Read more

The human immunoglobulin heavy chain gene complex has been assigned to chromosome 14 by filter hybridization of restriction digests of mouse-human somatic cell hybrids. Cloned DNA probes for both variable and constant regions were used.

Bentley DL, Rabbitts TH. 1981. Human V kappa immunoglobulin gene number: implications for the origin of antibody diversity. Cell, 24 (3), pp. 613-623. | Show Abstract | Read more

To assess the relative contributions of germline versus somatically mutated genes in the human immune system, we have examined the size of the kappa light-chain variable region (V kappa) gene pool. Two cloned kappa subgroup 1 (V kappa 1) gene probes detected the same family of 15 to 20 crosshybridizing restriction fragments in human DNA, whereas flanking region probes detected fewer hybridizing fragments. Most of the hybridizing bands represent single-copy genes, as judged by a "'gene titration" experiment. Furthermore, the number of hybridization bands is a good estimate of the haploid gene number, since we observed little polymorphism of restriction sites in the V kappa locus of eight unrelated people. A cloned V kappa 3 probe hybridized to essentially the same 15--20 genes in human DNA as the V kappa 1 probes. These results strongly suggest that a discrete family of 15--20 genes constitutes a large proportion of the V genes from three of the four V kappa subgroups. The small number of V kappa genes in the human genome supports the idea that somatic mutation plays a major role in the origin of antibody diversity in man.

Mechler B, Rabbitts TH. 1981. Membrane-bound ribosomes of myeloma cells. IV. mRNA complexity of free and membrane-bound polysomes. J Cell Biol, 88 (1), pp. 29-36. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have analyzed the sequence complexity, frequency distribution, and template activity of free (F) and membrane-bound (MB) polysomal mRNA populations of MOPC 21 (P3K) mouse myeloma cells. Using the technique of mRNA-cDNA hybridization, we find that F poly(A)+ RNA, which represent 60% of total polysomal mRNA, consists of approximately 8,000 different mRNA sequences distributed in three abundance classes, while MB poly(A)+ RNA (20% of total polysomal mRNA) includes only 230 mRNA species and almost completely lacks very infrequent mRNA species. Cross-hybridization indicates that MB mRNA sequences are also present in F mRNA, but in reduced concentrations. Translation of F and MB RNA fractions in a messenger-dependent reticulocyte lysate indicates that essentially all MB RNA contains poly(A), whereas 25% of F mRNA lacks poly(A). Furthermore, the use of a cDNA highly specific for the immunoglobulin light (Ig L) chain mRNA allows the determination of the subcellular content of this message. Ig L mRNA, representing approximately 5% of total polysomal poly(A)+ RNA, is one of the most abundant MB mRNAs. 90% of Ig L mRNA is found in MB polysomes and 10% in F polysomes.

Bentley DL, Rabbitts TH. 1980. Human immunoglobulin variable region genes--DNA sequences of two V kappa genes and a pseudogene. Nature, 288 (5792), pp. 730-733. | Show Abstract | Read more

The study of immunoglobulin genes at the molecular level can allow us to elucidate the origin of antibody diversity. Investigations of immunoglobulin gene structure in the mouse have shown that light chains are encoded by three gene segments: the C gene encoding the constant region and the V and J genes encoding the variable region. In antibody-producing cells the V and J genes join together to create a complete immunoglobulin gene. No data are available on the structure of human light chain variable region genes, but the variable regions of over 150 human kappa light chain proteins have been sequenced and they comprise four distinct subgroups. Here we report the complete DNA sequences of three human kappa variable region (V kappa) genes isolated from fetal liver DNA. The sequences demonstrate that two non-allelic genes encoding subgroup I proteins have more than 90% nucleotide homology in both proteins coding and non-coding regions. Comparison of these human genes with two complete DNA sequences of mouse V kappa genes shows that V kappa gene structure is highly conserved between the two species, which suggests that V kappa genes rearrange during the differentiation of human lymphocytes by a very similar mechanism to that in the mouse. The sequence of a defective V kappa gene is also described--this gene is unable to code for a functional immunoglobulin due to substitutions, deletions and insertions in its sequence. It is analogous to the pseudogenes of globin and Xenopus 5S RNA.

Dunnick W, Rabbitts TH, Milstein C. 1980. An immunoglobulin deletion mutant with implications for the heavy-chain switch and RNA splicing. Nature, 286 (5774), pp. 669-675. | Show Abstract | Read more

The IF2 immunoglobulin mutant is a DNA deletion of one coding segment and large sections of the flanking intervening sequences. The deletion results in a new splicing pattern and starts in a DNA region containing tandemly repeated sequences which may carry heavy-chain class switch signals.

Matthyssens G, Rabbitts TH. 1980. Structure and multiplicity of genes for the human immunoglobulin heavy chain variable region. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 77 (11), pp. 6561-6565. | Show Abstract | Read more

Several genes for the variable region of immunoglobulin heavy chains (VH genes) have been isolated from human fetal liver DNA by using a cDNA plasmid probe containing a mouse VH sequence. The detectable VH genes are separated by 12-16 kilobases of DNA, and hybridization experiments show about 23 hybridizing VH genes in DNA of three different individuals. The complete nucleotide sequence of one of these human VH genes shows that it belongs to the human VHIII subgroup. The VH gene appears to contain an intervening sequence (104 bases in length) within a precursor sequence, between residues -4 and -5. The precursor sequence is itself 19 codons in length. The 3' end of the V gene seems to be at codon 93 or 94, and this is followed by the conserved sequences C-A-C-A-G-T-G and G-A-C-A-C-A-A-A-C-C. The presence of these sequences suggests that similar enzymatic mechanisms are involved in the integration of V genes in both heavy and light chains.

Forster A, Hobart M, Hengartner H, Rabbitts TH. 1980. An immunoglobulin heavy-chain gene is altered in two T-cell clones. Nature, 286 (5776), pp. 897-899. | Show Abstract | Read more

Thymus-derived lymphocytes (T cells) show a high degree of discrimination in their responses to various antigens, very similar to the specificity repertoire of antibody-producing B cells. The nature of the T-cell receptor which mediates antigen recognition is obscure, but the ability to discriminate between antigenic specificities implies a range of receptor specificities. Many serological and genetic data suggest that T-cell receptors use the immunoglobulin heavy (H)-chain variable (V) region genes but do not carry the antigenic determinants of the immunoglobulin H-chain constant (C) regions; they also do not seem to carry conventional light (L)-chain V- or C-region determinants. In B cells and derivatives the expression of immunoglobulin genes is manifested, at the DNA level, by an alteration of the restriction enzyme patterns of both the H and L immunoglobulin genes. Specifically, V-gene integration involves joining of a V gene with a J segment (in the case of the H chain probably through an intermediate D segment) so that sites for restriction enzymes will undergo changes in cells in which V-J joining has occurred. Here, we describe Southern filter hybridization experiments using C mu and C kappa probes on the DNA of individual T-cell clones from mice, and present evidence for alteration of sequences adjacent to the C mu gene in the cells.

Dunnick W, Rabbitts TH, Milstein C. 1980. A mouse immunoglobulin heavy chain deletion mutant: isolation of a cDNA clone and sequence analysis of the mRNA. Nucleic Acids Res, 8 (7), pp. 1475-1484. | Show Abstract | Read more

The mouse cell line IF2 secretes an immunoglobulin heavy chain lacking the CH1 domain. We have isolated and characterised a recombinant plasmid containing cDNA copies of the IF2 mutant mRNA. The cloned sequence extends from the nucleotides coding for amino acid 96 in the variable region through 100 nucleotides of untranslated region at the 3' end. The sequence of the cDNA insert reveals no discontinuity at the variable-hinge region junction, the site of the CH1 deletion. Experiments employing direct priming on the poly(A) tail of the IF2 heavy chain mRNA suggest that the 3' end of the cDNA clone (sequence C-C-C-T-G-C) is also the 3' end of the mRNA.

Rabbitts TH, Hamlyn PH, Matthyssens G, Roe BA. 1980. The variability, arrangement, and rearrangement of immunoglobulin genes. Can J Biochem, 58 (3), pp. 176-187. | Show Abstract | Read more

The multiplicity of heavy-chain variable-region (VH) genes in mouse and human DNA has been estimated using a mouse heavy-(H) chain cDNA clone. We found about 10 hybridization components in mouse DNA and about 20 components in human DNA. Cross-hybridization studies of variable region (V) genes indicate that these components represent the numbers of genes within the VH subgroups of each of these species. The arrangement and rearrangement of the H-chain gamma subclasses have been studied in order to assess possible mechanisms of the H-chain switch. Evidence has been found for rearrangement events involving the gamma 2a and gamma 2b constant-region (CH) genes in DNA from cells making IgG2a and IgG2b respectively. In addition we found that cells making IgG2a lack detectable genes for gamma1 and gamma 2b. Both sets of observations are discussed in relation to H-chain diversity and the switch.

Rabbitts TH, Matthyssens G, Hamlyn PH. 1980. Contribution of immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable-region genes to antibody diversity. Nature, 284 (5753), pp. 238-243. | Show Abstract | Read more

A mouse cloned cDNA probe containing a variable (V) region belonging to the VHIII subgroup has been used in filter hybridisations to estimate the number of heavy-chain V-genes in this subgroup of mouse and human DNA. There seem to be about 10 and 20 VH-genes hybridising to this probe in mouse and human DNA, respectively. Studies of cross-hybridisation of the related VK-genes from MOPC21 and MPC11 myelomas indicate that the experiments detect all members of the VHIII subgroup.

Matthyssens G, Rabbitts TH. 1980. The sequence at the 3' terminus of mouse immunoglobulin secreted mu chain messenger RNA determined from cloned cDNA. Nucleic Acids Res, 8 (4), pp. 703-713. | Show Abstract

The 3' terminal nucleotide sequence of two clones containing DNA complementary to mu chain mRNA of IgM-secreting cells has been determined. The sequence shows a termination codon (UGA) adjacent to the terminal tyrosine codon for the secreted protein and a 3' non-coding region of at least 106 bases. The primary translation product of this mu chain mRNA seems to terminate at the tyrosine of the secreted protein.

Rabbitts TH, Forster A, Dunnick W, Bentley DL. 1980. The role of gene deletion in the immunoglobulin heavy chain switch. Nature, 283 (5745), pp. 351-356. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have examined the arrangement of the genes for the mouse heavy chain subclasses gamma 2b, gamma 2a and gamma 1 by the Southern hybridisation procedure. Evidence has been found for rearrangement involving the gamma 2b and gamma 2a CH genes in the DNA of cells making IgG2b and IgG2a respectively. The DNA of an IgG2b-secreting line lacks detectable C gamma 1 gene, whilst the DNA of an IgG2a-secreting line lacks detectable C gamma 1 and C gamma 2b genes. The DNA of a cell line secreting IgA lacks detectable C gamma genes. These observations implicate deletion in the mechanism of the H-chain switch and allow a preliminary ordering of some of the CH genes in the mouse genome.

Rabbitts TH. 1979. Primary-sequence changes in the differentiation of immunoglobulin genes. Biochem Soc Symp, 44 pp. 65-79. | Show Abstract

The DNA that an organism inherits carries immunoglobulin κ light-chain variable (V)- and constant (C)-region genes separately in the chromosome. During the differentiation of the antibody-producing cells, DNA rearrangement occurs to bring these two genes into a transcription unit. This unit, however, does not consist of a linear array of V- and C(κ)-region material, but contains at least one interruption, which is located at or near the V-region/C-region junction. Primary transcription products include the interruption sequence or sequences as well as the translated sequences, and the mRNA is generated from these precursors by splicing events in the nucleus. Thus there appear to be two major steps in the formation of the functional mRNA, which involve primary sequence changes in the Ig (immunoglobulin) sequences compared with the inherited DNA.

Rabbitts TH. 1978. Evidence for splicing of interrupted immunoglobulin variable and constant region sequences in nuclear RNA. Nature, 275 (5678), pp. 291-296. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evidence is presented that the mouse light-chain coding sequence is interrupted in a 27S nuclear RNA species, whereas the sequence is continuous in both a 13S nuclear RNA and in cytoplasmic mRNA. The discontinuity of coding regions in the 27S nuclear RNA parallels the situation found in myeloma DNA and indicates, therefore, that the removal of interruptions in the V and C regions occurs at the level of nuclear RNA.

Rabbitts TH, Forster A. 1978. Evidence for noncontiguous variable and constant region genes in both germ line and myeloma DNA. Cell, 13 (2), pp. 319-327. | Show Abstract | Read more

A study has been made of the hybridization of mouse light chain cDNA to restriction enzyme digests of DNA. DNA was digested with B. st (specificity GGATCC) and fractionated on preparative agarose gels for hybridization analysis. Experiments with liver or kidney DNA yielded two peaks of hybridization with V+C cDNA corresponding to the C κ gene and to the germ line V gene homologous to the MOPC21 V gene. Since there is no site for digestion by B. st within the MOPC21 V or C genes, this result shows that the germ line DNA carries separately the V 21 and C κ genes. The hybridization profiles of two different myeloma DNAs (MOPC21 and AdjPC5) differed from those of the germ line DNA. In both myelomas, only one hybridization peak was observed and no peaks corresponding to the germ line pattern were seen. The new pattern of hybridization implies that the events involved in maturation of antibody-producing cells includes rearrangement of the V and C genes. To study whether this proposed rearrangement of DNA results in contiguous V and C genes in producing cells, discrete V+C cDNA size classes (prepared with MOPC21 mRNA) were hybridized to both unfractionated restriction digested MOPC21 DNA and to the partially purified L chain gene of MOPC21 DNA. The length of the cDNA rendered resistant to single-strand-specific S 1 nuclease was determined. In no case was the full length of V+C cDNA protected from nuclease; instead, a fragment of about 290 bases (C region length) plus smaller fragments were generated. These results indicate that the rearrangement of L chain genes, which seems to occur in myeloma cells, may well not produce contiguous V and C genes in the DNA. © 1978.

Rabbitts TH. 1977. A molecular hybridization approach for the determination of the immunoglobulin V-gene pool size. Immunol Rev, 36 (1), pp. 29-50. | Read more

Rabbitts TH, Milstein C. 1977. Quantitation of antibody genes by molecular hybridization. Contemp Top Mol Immunol, 6 pp. 117-143.

Rabitts TH, Forster A, Smith M, Gillam S. 1977. Immunoglobulin-like messenger RNA in a mouse T cell lymphoma. Eur J Immunol, 7 (1), pp. 43-48. | Show Abstract | Read more

RNA-driven complementary DNA (cDNA) hybridization experiments have been carried out in order to detect complementary sequences in RNA prepared from a mouse T cell lymphoma line (EL4). In conditions where efficient hybridization of L-chain cDNA with homologous P3 myeloma mRNA was observed, poor hybridization was observed with EL4 mRNA unless a low criterion of hybrid formation was employed (i.e. hydroxyapatite fractionation). The hybrid formed between EL4 mRNA and L-chain cDNA was found to melt about 5 degrees C below the homologous hybrid indicating that the sequence detected in EL4 mRNA is similar but not identical with the P3 mRNA sequence. However, a similar sequence was detectable in a Clambda-producing myeloma cell line but in this line the concentration of the sequence was found to be an order of magnitude lower than in EL4 cells.

Rabbitts TH. 1976. Bacterial cloning of plasmids carrying copies of rabbit globin messenger RNA. Nature, 260 (5548), pp. 221-225. | Show Abstract | Read more

DNA copies of rabbit globin mRNA have been inserted into the plasmid mini-ColEl. After addition of poly(dT) tails, the plasmid was used to prime the copying of mRNA by reverse transcriptase. Mini-ColEl carrying globin sequences were denatured and annealed with mini-ColEl tailed with poly(dA). Functional plasmids containing the synthesised globin sequences were isolated by transfection in E. coli.

Rabbitts TH. 1976. Antibody diversity - How many antibody genes? Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 1 (2), pp. 86-88. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hybridization experiments with immunoglobulin messenger RNA (mRNA) reveal single or a limited number of variable region genes: the interpretation of this finding in terms of the origin of antibody diversity is discussed. © 1976.

RABBITTS TERENCEH, MILSTEIN C. 1975. Investigation of the Genetic Diversity of Mouse Immunoglobulin x-Chain Genes Biochemical Society Transactions, 3 (6), pp. 870-872. | Read more

Rabbitts TH. 1975. Genetic arrangement in eukaryotic DNA Nature, 257 (5523), pp. 182-183. | Read more

Rabbitts TH, Milstein C. 1975. Mouse immunoglobulin genes: studies on the reiteration frequency of light-chain genes by hybridisation procedures. Eur J Biochem, 52 (1), pp. 125-133. | Show Abstract | Read more

The partially purified immunoglobulin light chain messenger RNA fraction from P3K (MOPC 21) mouse myeloma tissue-culture cells has been employed in hybridisation studies. Fragments of the messenger RNA were generated by alkali hydrolysis. 6-S fragments not containing poly(A) showed the characteristic biphasic hybridisation profile seen with the intact RNA fraction. 12-S and 6-S poly(A)-containing fragments, however, showed single transitions lacking the rapidly hybridising component. Complementary DNA copies of the intact messenger RNA fraction were prepared with RNA-dependent DNA polymerase and the DNA populations fractionated on acrylamide gels. Hybridisation experiments with complementary DNA fractions up to 800 bases in length showed annealing to single (or a few) genes. A rapidly hybridising component (about 200 copies) appears in the cDNA fraction containing the largest transcripts. We conclude that the kappa constant region gene and the MOPC 21 variable region gene are present as one or a few copies in the haploid genome and that the rapidly hybridising component is not due to variable region genes.

Rabbitts TH, Jarvis JM, Milstein C. 1975. Demonstration that a mouse immunoglobulin light chain messenger RNA hybridizes exclusively with unique DNA. Cell, 6 (1), pp. 5-12. | Show Abstract | Read more

32P-labeled light chain messenger RNA was prepared from mouse MOPC 21 myeloma cells. The messenger RNA was hybridized to purified repetitive nuclear DNA and both the hybridized (repetitive 32P-RNA) and nonhybridized (nonrepetitive 32P-RNA) fractions were isolated. Only the nonhybridized RNA gave a T1 ribonuclease fingerprint showing oligonucleotides derived from the variable and constant regions of the light chain messenger RNA. In addition, this fingerprint showed oligonucleotides derived from the untranslated regions of the light chain messenger RNA. The nonrepetitive 32P-RNA was shown to rehybridize only with the unique fraction of total nuclear DNA. The rapidly hybridizing part of the unfractionated 32P-RNA preparation, therefore, is not a component of the light chain messenger RNA itself. Complementary DNA was prepared with reverse transcriptase using unlabeled light chain messenger RNA as template, and the transcripts were fractionated into various size classes. Complementary DNA molecules greater than 900 bases in length hybridized with both the initial messenger RNA and with the nonrepetitive 32P-RNA but failed to hybridize with excess purified repetitive 32P-RNA. The rapidly hybridizing component of the messenger RNA fraction, therefore, does not appear to be transcribed by reverse transcriptase. It is concluded that, under the experimental conditions used, the light chain messenger RNA hybridizes exclusively with unique DNA.

Rabbitts TH. 1974. Hybridization characteristics of enzymatically synthesised DNA complementary to mouse immunoglobulin messenger RNA. FEBS Lett, 42 (3), pp. 323-326. | Read more

Rabbitts TH, Bishop JO, Milstein C, Brownlee GG. 1974. Comparative hybridization studies iwth an immunoglobulin light chain mRNA fraction and non-immunoglobulin mRNA of mouse. FEBS Lett, 40 (1), pp. 157-160. | Read more

Coote JL, Rabbitts TH, Work TS. 1971. The mitochondrial ribosome of baby-hamster kidney cells. Biochem J, 123 (2), pp. 279-281. | Read more

Rabbitts TH, Work TS. 1971. The mitochondrial ribosome and ribosomal RNA of the chick. FEBS Lett, 14 (4), pp. 214-218. | Read more

Guillard S, Kolasinska-Zwierz P, Debreczeni J, Breed J, Zhang J, Bery N, Marwood R, Tart J, Overman R, Stocki P et al. 2017. Structural and functional characterization of a DARPin which inhibits Ras nucleotide exchange. Nat Commun, 8 pp. 16111. | Show Abstract | Read more

Ras mutations are the oncogenic drivers of many human cancers and yet there are still no approved Ras-targeted cancer therapies. Inhibition of Ras nucleotide exchange is a promising new approach but better understanding of this mechanism of action is needed. Here we describe an antibody mimetic, DARPin K27, which inhibits nucleotide exchange of Ras. K27 binds preferentially to the inactive Ras GDP form with a Kd of 4 nM and structural studies support its selectivity for inactive Ras. Intracellular expression of K27 significantly reduces the amount of active Ras, inhibits downstream signalling, in particular the levels of phosphorylated ERK, and slows the growth in soft agar of HCT116 cells. K27 is a potent, non-covalent inhibitor of nucleotide exchange, showing consistent effects across different isoforms of Ras, including wild-type and oncogenic mutant forms.

Town J, Pais H, Harrison S, Stead LF, Bataille C, Bunjobpol W, Zhang J, Rabbitts TH. 2016. Exploring the surfaceome of Ewing sarcoma identifies a new and unique therapeutic target. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113 (13), pp. 3603-3608. | Show Abstract | Read more

The cell surface proteome of tumors mediates the interface between the transformed cells and the general microenvironment, including interactions with stromal cells in the tumor niche and immune cells such as T cells. In addition, the cell surface proteome of individual cancers defines biomarkers for that tumor type and potential proteins that can be the target of antibody-mediated therapy. We have used next-generation deep RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) coupled to an in-house database of genes encoding cell surface proteins (herein referred to as the surfaceome) as a tool to define a cell surface proteome of Ewing sarcoma compared with progenitor mesenchymal stem cells. This subtractive RNA-seq analysis revealed a specific surfaceome of Ewing and showed unexpectedly that the leucine-rich repeat and Ig domain protein 1 (LINGO1) is expressed in over 90% of Ewing sarcoma tumors, but not expressed in any other somatic tissue apart from the brain. We found that the LINGO1 protein acts as a gateway protein internalizing into the tumor cells when engaged by antibody and can carry antibody conjugated with drugs to kill Ewing sarcoma cells. Therefore, LINGO1 is a new, unique, and specific biomarker and drug target for the treatment of Ewing sarcoma.

Zeng J, Li HC, Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2015. Selection of human single domain antibodies recognizing the CMYC protein using enhanced intracellular antibody capture. J Immunol Methods, 426 pp. 140-143. | Show Abstract | Read more

Protein functions that are mediated by interaction with other proteins (protein-protein interactions, PPI) are important for normal cell biology and also in disease. Molecules that can interfere with PPI are required as laboratory tools to dissect function, as lead drug surrogates for target validation and as templates for drug discovery. We describe enhanced developments to Intracellular Antibody Capture (IAC) technology that can select antibody fragments able to interact with targets in cells. This is illustrated by the isolation of single heavy chain variable region domains binding to the basic-helix-loop-helix and leucine zipper region of the CMYC oncogenic protein. The enhanced IAC (eIAC) methodology deploys screening in yeast cells of a single diverse library initially with randomization only of CDR3. Further sequential randomization of CDR2 and CDR1 of three independently selected anti-CMYC clones illustrates an in vivo affinity maturation process. This concise eIAC approach facilitates the rapid selection of antibody fragments to explore the proteome interaction spectrum of mammalian cells and disease targeting.

Chambers J, Rabbitts TH. 2015. LMO2 at 25 years: a paradigm of chromosomal translocation proteins. Open Biol, 5 (6), pp. 150062. | Show Abstract | Read more

LMO2 was first discovered through proximity to frequently occurring chromosomal translocations in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL). Subsequent studies on its role in tumours and in normal settings have highlighted LMO2 as an archetypical chromosomal translocation oncogene, activated by association with antigen receptor gene loci and a paradigm for translocation gene activation in T-ALL. The normal function of LMO2 in haematopoietic cell fate and angiogenesis suggests it is a master gene regulator exerting a dysfunctional control on differentiation following chromosomal translocations. Its importance in T cell neoplasia has been further emphasized by the recurrent findings of interstitial deletions of chromosome 11 near LMO2 and of LMO2 as a target of retroviral insertion gene activation during gene therapy trials for X chromosome-linked severe combined immuno-deficiency syndrome, both types of event leading to similar T cell leukaemia. The discovery of LMO2 in some B cell neoplasias and in some epithelial cancers suggests a more ubiquitous function as an oncogenic protein, and that the current development of novel inhibitors will be of great value in future cancer treatment. Further, the role of LMO2 in angiogenesis and in haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) bodes well for targeting LMO2 in angiogenic disorders and in generating autologous induced HSCs for application in various clinical indications.

Chambers JS, Tanaka T, Brend T, Ali H, Geisler NJ, Khazin L, Cigudosa JC, Dear TN, MacLennan K, Rabbitts TH. 2014. Sequential gene targeting to make chimeric tumor models with de novo chromosomal abnormalities. Cancer Res, 74 (5), pp. 1588-1597. | Show Abstract | Read more

The discovery of chromosomal translocations in leukemia/lymphoma and sarcomas presaged a widespread discovery in epithelial tumors. With the advent of new-generation whole-genome sequencing, many consistent chromosomal abnormalities have been described together with putative driver and passenger mutations. The multiple genetic changes required in mouse models to assess the interrelationship of abnormalities and other mutations are severe limitations. Here, we show that sequential gene targeting of embryonic stem cells can be used to yield progenitor cells to generate chimeric offspring carrying all the genetic changes needed for cell-specific cancer. Illustrating the technology, we show that MLL-ENL fusion is sufficient for lethal leukocytosis and proof of genome integrity comes from germline transmission of the sequentially targeted alleles. This accelerated technology leads to a reduction in mouse numbers (contributing significantly to the 3Rs), allows fluorescence tagging of cancer-initiating cells, and provides a flexible platform for interrogating the interaction of chromosomal abnormalities with mutations.

Zhang J, Rabbitts TH. 2014. Intracellular antibody capture: A molecular biology approach to inhibitors of protein-protein interactions. Biochim Biophys Acta, 1844 (11), pp. 1970-1976. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many proteins of interest in basic biology, translational research studies and for clinical targeting in diseases reside inside the cell and function by interacting with other macromolecules. Protein complexes control basic processes such as development and cell division but also abnormal cell growth when mutations occur such as found in cancer. Interfering with protein-protein interactions is an important aspiration in both basic and disease biology but small molecule inhibitors have been difficult and expensive to isolate. Recently, we have adapted molecular biology techniques to develop a simple set of protocols for isolation of high affinity antibody fragments (in the form of single VH domains) that function within the reducing environment of higher organism cells and can bind to their target molecules. The method called Intracellular Antibody Capture (IAC) has been used to develop inhibitory anti-RAS and anti-LMO2 single domains that have been used for target validation of these antigens in pre-clinical cancer models and illustrate the efficacy of the IAC approach to generation of drug surrogates. Future use of inhibitory VH antibody fragments as drugs in their own right (we term these macrodrugs to distinguish them from small molecule drugs) requires their delivery to target cells in vivo but they can also be templates for small molecule drug development that emulate the binding sites of the antibody fragments. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Recent advances in molecular engineering of antibody.

Sewell H, Tanaka T, El Omari K, Mancini EJ, Cruz A, Fernandez-Fuentes N, Chambers J, Rabbitts TH. 2014. Conformational flexibility of the oncogenic protein LMO2 primes the formation of the multi-protein transcription complex. Sci Rep, 4 (1), pp. 3643. | Show Abstract | Read more

LMO2 was discovered via chromosomal translocations in T-cell leukaemia and shown normally to be essential for haematopoiesis. LMO2 is made up of two LIM only domains (thus it is a LIM-only protein) and forms a bridge in a multi-protein complex. We have studied the mechanism of formation of this complex using a single domain antibody fragment that inhibits LMO2 by sequestering it in a non-functional form. The crystal structure of LMO2 with this antibody fragment has been solved revealing a conformational difference in the positioning and angle between the two LIM domains compared with its normal binding. This contortion occurs by bending at a central helical region of LMO2. This is a unique mechanism for inhibiting an intracellular protein function and the structural contusion implies a model in which newly synthesized, intrinsically disordered LMO2 binds to a partner protein nucleating further interactions and suggests approaches for therapeutic targeting of LMO2.

McCormack MP, Young LF, Vasudevan S, de Graaf CA, Codrington R, Rabbitts TH, Jane SM, Curtis DJ. 2010. The Lmo2 oncogene initiates leukemia in mice by inducing thymocyte self-renewal. Science, 327 (5967), pp. 879-883. | Show Abstract | Read more

The LMO2 oncogene causes a subset of human T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias (T-ALL), including four cases that arose as adverse events in gene therapy trials. To investigate the cellular origin of LMO2-induced leukemia, we used cell fate mapping to study mice in which the Lmo2 gene was constitutively expressed in the thymus. Lmo2 induced self-renewal of committed T cells in the mice more than 8 months before the development of overt T-ALL. These self-renewing cells retained the capacity for T cell differentiation but expressed several genes typical of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), suggesting that Lmo2 might reactivate an HSC-specific transcriptional program. Forced expression of one such gene, Hhex, was sufficient to initiate self-renewal of thymocytes in vivo. Thus, Lmo2 promotes the self-renewal of preleukemic thymocytes, providing a mechanism by which committed T cells can then accumulate additional genetic mutations required for leukemic transformation.

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2010. Interfering with RAS-effector protein interactions prevent RAS-dependent tumour initiation and causes stop-start control of cancer growth. Oncogene, 29 (45), pp. 6064-6070. | Show Abstract | Read more

RAS mutations are the most common gain-of-function change in human cancer and promise to be a critical therapy target. As a new approach, we have used a surrogate to drug the 'undruggable' (that is, RAS-effector protein-protein interactions inside cancer cells) in pre-clinical mouse models of RAS-dependent cancers. Using this novel reagent, we have specifically targeted RAS signalling in a transgenic mouse model of lung cancer by directly blockading RAS-effector interactions with an antibody fragment that binds to activated RAS, and show that the interaction of RAS and effectors, such as phosphoinositide 3-kinase and RAF, is necessary for tumour initiation. Further, interference with oncogenic RAS-effector interactions result in control of tumour growth in human cancer cells but, crucially, does not necessarily cause tumour regression. These findings support the concept that ablating RAS-dependent signalling in cancer will have chemo-preventive effects that confer a chronic state in cancer and suggest that mutant RAS-targeted therapies may require conjoint targeting of other molecules and/or current cancer therapeutic strategies (for example, radiotherapy and chemotherapy) to be curative. In this context, our findings suggest that the oncogene addiction model is not universally correct in its central thesis that cancer cell death is inevitable after loss of oncogenic protein function.

Pérez-Martínez D, Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2010. Intracellular antibodies and cancer: new technologies offer therapeutic opportunities. Bioessays, 32 (7), pp. 589-598. | Show Abstract | Read more

Since the realisation that the antigen-binding regions of antibodies, the variable (V) regions, can be uncoupled from the rest of the molecule to create fragments that recognise and abrogate particular protein functions in cells, the use of antibody fragments inside cells has become an important tool in bioscience. Diverse libraries of antibody fragments plus in vivo screening can be used to isolate single chain variable fragments comprising VH and VL segments or single V-region domains. Some of these are interfering antibody fragments that compete with protein-protein interactions, providing lead molecules for drug interactions that until now have been considered difficult or undruggable. It may be possible to deliver or express antibody fragments in target cells as macrodrugs per se. In future incarnations of intracellular antibodies, however, the structural information of the interaction interface of target and antibody fragment should facilitate development of binding site mimics as small drug-like molecules. This is a new dawn for intracellular antibody fragments both as macrodrugs and as precursors of drugs to treat human diseases and should finally lead to the removal of the epithet of the 'undruggable' protein-protein interactions.

Tanaka T, Rabbitts TH. 2010. Protocol for the selection of single-domain antibody fragments by third generation intracellular antibody capture. Nat Protoc, 5 (1), pp. 67-92. | Show Abstract | Read more

Single-domain intracellular antibodies are antibody variable segments that bind to specific target proteins inside cells. These antigen-binding variable regions can interfere with protein function or perturb protein-protein interactions and can be used as tools for research, especially functional genomics and proteomics and interfering with the protein interactome. This protocol (Intracellular Antibody Capture, IAC(3)) describes the isolation of functional variable heavy (VH) or variable light (VL) segments from diverse libraries. The protocol comprises four principle steps: validation of a bait antigen; initial screening in yeast of a single domain library; generation of sub-libraries after the initial screen; and finally confirmation of the positive clones interaction with antigen in yeast and mammalian cells. Each library (initial, second and third) screening takes upto 2 weeks and the overall procedure <3 months. This third generation IAC method has many advantages, including isolation of single domain intracellular antibodies with high affinity and specificity by direct in vivo genetic selection.

Rabbitts TH. 2009. Commonality but diversity in cancer gene fusions. Cell, 137 (3), pp. 391-395. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent findings of gene fusions in carcinomas recapitulate the discovery of chromosomal abnormalities in leukemias and sarcomas decades ago. A recurring feature of carcinoma gene fusions, in contrast to those in hematopoietic and mesenchymal malignancies, is that they result in aberrant cell signaling. This may reflect differences in the differentiation programs of these tissues.

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