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High-efficiency CRISPR induction of t(9;11) chromosomal translocations and acute leukemias in human blood stem cells

Jeong, J., Jager, A., Domizi, P. et al.

Chromosomal rearrangements involving the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene, also known as KMT2A, are often observed in human leukemias and are generally associated with a poor prognosis. To model these leukemias, we applied clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 gene editing to induce MLL chromosomal rearrangements in human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells purified from umbilical cord blood. Electroporation of ribonucleoprotein complexes containing chemically modified synthetic single guide RNAs and purified Cas9 protein induced translocations between chromosomes 9 and 11 [t(9;11)] at an efficiency >1%. Transplantation of gene-edited cells into immune-compromised mice rapidly induced acute leukemias of different lineages and often with multiclonal origins dictated by the duration of in vitro culture prior to transplantation. Breakpoint junction sequences served as biomarkers to monitor clonal selection and progression in culture and in vivo. High-dimensional cell surface and intracellular protein analysis by mass cytometry (CyTOF) revealed that gene-edited leukemias recapitulated disease-specific protein expression observed in human patients and showed that MLL-rearranged (MLLr) mixed phenotype acute leukemias (MPALs) were more similar to acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs) than to acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALLs). Therefore, highly efficient generation of MLL chromosomal translocations in primary human blood stem cells using CRISPR/Cas9 reliably models human acute MLLr leukemia and provides an experimental platform for basic and translational studies of leukemia biology and therapeutics.

Citation

Jeong, J., Jager, A., Domizi, P. et al. "High-efficiency CRISPR induction of t(9;11) chromosomal translocations and acute leukemias in human blood stem cells" Blood Advances (2019): 2,825–35