2014 Volume 90 Issue 10 Pages 389-404
Myeloid malignancies consist of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN). The latter two diseases have preleukemic features and frequently evolve to AML. As with solid tumors, multiple mutations are required for leukemogenesis. A decade ago, these gene alterations were subdivided into two categories: class I mutations stimulating cell growth or inhibiting apoptosis; and class II mutations that hamper differentiation of hematopoietic cells. In mouse models, class I mutations such as the Bcr-Abl fusion kinase induce MPN by themselves and some class II mutations such as Runx1 mutations induce MDS. Combinations of class I and class II mutations induce AML in a variety of mouse models. Thus, it was postulated that hematopoietic cells whose differentiation is blocked by class II mutations would autonomously proliferate with class I mutations leading to the development of leukemia. Recent progress in high-speed sequencing has enabled efficient identification of novel mutations in a variety of molecules including epigenetic factors, splicing factors, signaling molecules and proteins in the cohesin complex; most of these are not categorized as either class I or class II mutations. The functional consequences of these mutations are now being extensively investigated. In this article, we will review the molecular basis of hematological malignancies, focusing on mouse models and the interfaces between these models and clinical findings, and revisit the classical class I/II hypothesis.