Characterizing Leukemic Stem Cells
In a leukemic cell population, there are leukemic blasts and leukemic stem cells (LSCs). While the leukemic blasts make up the majority of the leukemic population, only the rare LSCs maintain the leukemia. This project aims to identify the antigens on the leukemic stem cells (LSCs) in a HOXB4-transgene dependent leukemia model. What is the relevance of HOXB4, and how is a leukemia model dependent on its expression? HOXB4 is a gene that plays a role in endowing hemopoietic precursor cells with an enhanced self-renewing capacity, which could eventually immortalize those cells in which HOXB4 transgene is expressed. When these immortalized precursor cells continue to self-renew (i.e. clone themselves), gene mutations could lead to leukemia. This is why we call this a HOXB4 transgene-dependent leukemia model: because when the transgene is removed, the leukemia regresses.