Research highlight

Cancer: Origins of B-cell leukaemia

Nature Communications

February 19, 2014

Immune cells expressing the protein renin - usually found in the kidney - can give rise to a type of B-cell leukaemia, reports a study published in Nature Communications this week. The discovery indicates that these cells may provide an avenue of research for identifying factors and mechanisms that give rise to different types of B-cell leukaemia.

Ariel Gomez and colleagues identify a progenitor cell in mice that expresses the kidney protein renin. They find that the renin positive cells represent a distinct population of immune cells in the mice and these cells decrease in frequency with age. They show that when a key signalling molecule is removed from these renin positive cells in mice, the cells express genes associated with a precursor cell fate and the mice go on to develop B-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma/leukaemia. These findings are presented in mice and although the extrapolation to human leukaemia is unknown these findings could aid in the study of this type of leukaemia.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms4273

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