OLIG2 (originally designated BHLHB1) encodes a transcription factor that contains the basic helix-loop-helix motif. Although expression of OLIG2 is normally restricted to neural tissues, overexpression of OLIG2 has been shown in patients with precursor T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma/leukemia (pre-T LBL). In the current study, we found that overexpression of OLIG2 was not only found in oligodendroglioma samples and normal neural tissue but also in a wide spectrum of malignant cell lines including leukemia, non-small cell lung carcinoma, melanoma, and breast cancer cell lines. To investigate whether enforced expression of OLIG2 is oncogenic, we generated transgenic mice that overexpressed OLIG2 in the thymus. Ectopic OLIG2 expression in the thymus was only weakly oncogenic as only 2 of 85 mice developed pre-T LBL. However, almost 60% of transgenic mice that overexpressed both OLIG2 and LMO1 developed pre-T LBL with large thymic tumor masses. Gene expression profiling of thymic tumors that developed in OLIG2/LMO1 mice revealed up-regulation of Notch1 as well as Deltex1 (Dtx1) and pre T-cell antigen receptor α (Ptcrα), two genes that are considered to be downstream of Notch1. Of note, we found mutations in the Notch1 heterodimerization or proline-, glutamic acid-, serine-, and threonine-rich domain in three of six primary thymic tumors. In addition, growth of leukemic cell lines established from OLIG2/LMO1 transgenic mice was suppressed by a γ-secretase inhibitor, suggesting that Notch1 up-regulation is important for the proliferation of OLIG2-LMO1 leukemic cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research