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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.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





843 - 851


Amino Acid Sequence, Animals, Cell Transformation, Neoplastic, DNA-Binding Proteins, Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase, Lac Operon, Leukemia, Experimental, Mice, Molecular Sequence Data, Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein, Oncogene Proteins, Fusion, Proto-Oncogenes, Transcription Factors