The basic science discovery is outlined in the Oct. 29 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"What we can do now is grow cell lines out of this model to determine which cancer-causing companion mutations arise," said Dr. Mike Teitell, a physician and researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center and the lead author of the article, available online at www.pnas.org/. "This model appears to yield a large spectrum of mature B-cell lymphomas."
Teitell, collaborator Randolph Wall, and their research team, scientist Katrina Hoyer and Dr. Samuel French, had previously identified an abnormality in a gene called T-cell leukemia 1 (TCL1) in patients with B-cell lymphomas, especially in those suffering from AIDS.
The researchers wondered what would happen if they developed an animal model with abnormally expressed TCL1 -- would the model develop cancer? Teitell and his team got more than they expected: animals with abnormally regulated TCL1 developed three different types of lymphoma.
"This finding suggested that specific mutations in addition to TCL1 were causing distinct types of B-cell malignancy. It was a very surprising result," Teitell said "Before this, we did not have a model for any of these forms of lymphoma. Since we can now generate all these different types, we are in a position to understand the changes that cause each type. For example, why does one animal with abnormal TCL1 expression develop one type of lymphoma, while a genetically identical animal develops a different type?"