Leukaemia – a developmental perspective

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Leukaemia is characterized by the accumulation of malignant haematopoietic precursors. Recent studies have revealed that acquired alterations in genes that regulate normal haematopoiesis are frequently detected in leukaemia. The progression to leukaemia depends on additional mutations that promote the survival of developmentally arrested cells. This review describes three examples of this general paradigm of leukaemogenesis: RUNX1 abnormalities in acute leukaemias, GATA1 mutations in the leukaemias of Down syndrome, and SCL and LMO2 ectopic expression in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

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