The Notch receptor-mediated signaling pathways control cell fate in many types of organisms including neurogenesis, myogenesis and hematopoiesis in mammalian species. During normal hematopoiesis, Notch-1 promotes myeloid differentiation through up-regulation of the transcriptional factor PU.1. We therefore speculated that down-regulation of Notch-1 expression might be involved in the leukemogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here we investigated Notch-1 expression and its association with PU.1-mediated differentiation signaling in AML. The transcriptional level of Notch-1 and PU.1 was evaluated in 6 AML cell lines and 54 AML patient samples using real-time PCR analysis, and Western blot analysis of Notch-1, PU.1 and one of its downstream targets, the M-CSF receptor (MCSFR), was performed to test for confirmation. A significant decrease in the transcription levels of Notch-1 was noted in AML cell lines and patient samples, and decreased Notch-1 protein expression in AML was confirmed by Western blotting. Down-regulation of Notch-1 expression was associated with a decrease in PU.1/MCSFR expression in AML. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments showed that partial disruption of the Notch-1/PU.1 complex was noted in AML cells. No detectable mutation of Notch-1 (ANK, PEST) and PU.1 (PEST, DBD) was noted by PCR-single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) assay. These results suggest that down-regulation of Notch-1 expression decreases PU.1/MCSFR expression and disrupts the Notch-1/PU.1 complex, which may impede the PU.l-mediated myeloid signaling and contribute to the leukemogenesis of AML.
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