IT Chan, JL Kutok, IR Williams, S Cohen, L Kelly, H Shigematsu, L Johnson, K Akashi, DA Tuveson, T Jacks, DG Gilliland
J Clin Invest
Oncogenic ras alleles are among the most common mutations found in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Previously, the role of oncogenic ras in cancer was assessed in model systems overexpressing oncogenic ras from heterologous promoters. However, there is increasing evidence that subtle differences in gene dosage and regulation of gene expression from endogenous promoters play critical roles in cancer pathogenesis. We characterized the role of oncogenic K-ras expressed from its endogenous promoter in the hematopoietic system using a conditional allele and IFN-inducible, Cre-mediated recombination. Mice developed a completely penetrant myeloproliferative syndrome characterized by leukocytosis with normal maturation of myeloid lineage cells; myeloid hyperplasia in bone marrow; and extramedullary hematopoiesis in the spleen and liver. Flow cytometry confirmed the myeloproliferative phenotype. Genotypic and Western blot analysis demonstrated Cre-mediated excision and expression, respectively, of the oncogenic K-ras allele. Bone marrow cells formed growth factor-independent colonies in methylcellulose cultures, but the myeloproliferative disease was not transplantable into secondary recipients. Thus, oncogenic K-ras induces a myeloproliferative disorder but not AML, indicating that additional mutations are required for AML development. This model system will be useful for assessing the contribution of cooperating mutations in AML and testing ras inhibitors in vivo.