Earlier in the past century, infections were regarded as the most likely cause of childhood B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (pB-ALL). However, there is a lack of relevant biologic evidence supporting this hypothesis. We present in vivo genetic evidence mechanistically connecting inherited susceptibility to pB-ALL and postnatal infections by showing that pB-ALL was initiated in Pax5 heterozygous mice only when they were exposed to common pathogens. Strikingly, these murine pB-ALLs closely resemble the human disease. Tumor exome sequencing revealed activating somatic, nonsynonymous mutations of Jak3 as a second hit. Transplantation experiments and deep sequencing suggest that inactivating mutations in Pax5 promote leukemogenesis by creating an aberrant progenitor compartment that is susceptible to malignant transformation through accumulation of secondary Jak3 mutations. Thus, treatment of Pax5+/− leukemic cells with specificJAK1/3 inhibitors resulted in increased apoptosis. These results uncover the causal role of infection in pB-ALL development.

 

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