AFF1

Gene Summary

Gene:AFF1; AF4/FMR2 family member 1
Aliases: AF4, PBM1, MLLT2
Location:4q21.3-q22.1
Summary:This gene encodes a member of the AF4/ lymphoid nuclear protein related to AF4/Fragile X E mental retardation syndrome family of proteins, which have been implicated in childhood lymphoblastic leukemia, Fragile X E site mental retardation, and ataxia. It is the prevalent mixed-lineage leukemia fusion gene associated with spontaneous acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Members of this family have three conserved domains: an N-terminal homology domain, an AF4/ lymphoid nuclear protein related to AF4/Fragile X E mental retardation syndrome domain, and a C-terminal homology domain. The protein functions as a regulator of RNA polymerase II-mediated transcription through elongation and chromatin remodeling functions. Through RNA interference screens, this gene has been shown to promote the expression of CD133, a plasma membrane glycoprotein required for leukemia cell survival. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants. [provided by RefSeq, Sep 2015]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:AF4/FMR2 family member 1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 16 March, 2017

Ontology:

What does this gene/protein do?
Show (5)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 16 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Validation Studies as Topic
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Oncogene Fusion Proteins
  • AFF1
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • MLL
  • Vidarabine
  • Leukaemia
  • Base Sequence
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Age Factors
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • FISH
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Transcriptional Activation
  • Zinc Fingers
  • Chromosome 4
  • Proto-Oncogenes
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Western Blotting
  • Cancer DNA
  • Adolescents
  • Infant
  • Chromosome 11
  • Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia
  • Gene Rearrangement
  • Precursor B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma
  • Messenger RNA
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Retinoic Acid
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • KMT2A
  • Myeloid Leukemia
  • Sequence Homology
  • Newborns
  • Homologous Transplantat
Tag cloud generated 16 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (2)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Entity Topic PubMed Papers
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), childt(4;11)(q21;q23) in Infant Leukaemia
Acute Lymphocytic Leukaemia (ALL)t(4;11)(q21;q23) MLL-AFF1 in adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: AFF1 (cancer-related)

Akhter A, Mughal MK, Elyamany G, et al.
Multiplexed automated digital quantification of fusion transcripts: comparative study with fluorescent in-situ hybridization (FISH) technique in acute leukemia patients.
Diagn Pathol. 2016; 11(1):89 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization (WHO) classification system defines recurrent chromosomal translocations as the sole diagnostic and prognostic criteria for acute leukemia (AL). These fusion transcripts are pivotal in the pathogenesis of AL. Clinical laboratories universally employ conventional karyotype/FISH to detect these chromosomal translocations, which is complex, labour intensive and lacks multiplexing capacity. Hence, it is imperative to explore and evaluate some newer automated, cost-efficient multiplexed technologies to accommodate the expanding genetic landscape in AL.
METHODS: "nCounter® Leukemia fusion gene expression assay" by NanoString was employed to detect various fusion transcripts in a large set samples (n = 94) utilizing RNA from formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) diagnostic bone marrow biopsy specimens. This series included AL patients with various recurrent translocations (n = 49), normal karyotype (n = 19), or complex karyotype (n = 21), as well as normal bone marrow samples (n = 5). Fusion gene expression data were compared with results obtained by conventional karyotype and FISH technology to determine sensitivity/specificity, as well as positive /negative predictive values.
RESULTS: Junction probes for PML/RARA; RUNX1-RUNX1T1; BCR/ABL1 showed 100 % sensitivity/specificity. A high degree of correlation was noted for MLL/AF4 (85 sensitivity/100 specificity) and TCF3-PBX1 (75 % sensitivity/100 % specificity) probes. CBFB-MYH11 fusion probes showed moderate sensitivity (57 %) but high specificity (100 %). ETV6/RUNX1 displayed discordance between fusion transcript assay and FISH results as well as rare non-specific binding in AL samples with normal or complex cytogenetics.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study presents preliminary data with high correlation between fusion transcript detection by a throughput automated multiplexed platform, compared to conventional karyotype/FISH technique for detection of chromosomal translocations in AL patients. Our preliminary observations, mandates further vast validation studies to explore automated molecular platforms in diagnostic pathology.

Colović N, Bogdanović A, Virijević M, et al.
Acute Myocardial Infarction during Induction Chemotherapy for Acute MLL t(4;11) Leukemia with Lineage Switch and Extreme Leukocytosis.
Srp Arh Celok Lek. 2015 Nov-Dec; 143(11-12):734-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: In patients with acute leukemias hemorrhage is the most frequent problem. Vein thrombotic events may appear rarely but arterial thromboses are exceptionally rare. We present a patient with acute leukemia and bilateral deep leg vein thrombosis who developed an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) during induction chemotherapy. The etiology and treatment of AMI in patients with acute leukemia, which is a rare occurrence, is discussed.
CASE OUTLINE: In April of 2012 a 37-year-old male presented with bilateral deep leg vein thrombosis and malaise. Laboratory data were as follows: Hb 118 g/L, WBC 354 x 10(9)/L (with 91% blasts in differential leukocyte count), platelets 60x109/L. Bone marrow aspirate and immunophenotype revealed the presence of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Cytogenetic analysis was as follows: 46,XY,t(4;11)(q21:q23) [2]/62-82,XYt(4;11)[18]. Molecular analysis showed MLL-AF4 rearrangement. The patient was on low molecular weight heparin and combined chemotherapy according to protocol HyperCVAD. On day 10 after chemotherapy he got chest pain. Three days later AMI was diagnosed (creatine kinase 66 U/L, CK-MB 13U/L, troponin 1.19 µg/L). Electrocardiogram showed the ST elevation in leads D1, D2, aVL, V5 and V6 and "micro q" in D1. On echocardiography, hypokinesia of the left ventricle and ejection fraction of 39% was found. After recovering from AMI and restoring left ventricle ejection fraction to 59%, second course of HyperCVAD was given. The control bone marrow aspirate showed 88% of blasts but with monoblastic appearance. Flow cytometry confirmed a lineage switch from lymphoblasts to monoblasts. In further course of the disease he was treated with a variety of chemotherapeutic combinations without achieving remission. Eventually, palliative chemotherapy was administered to reduce the bulk of blasts. He died five months after the initial diagnosis.
CONCLUSION: AMI in young adults with acute leukemia is a very rare complication which may occur in patients with very high white blood cell count in addition with presence of a CD56 adhesion molecule and other concomitant thrombophilic factors. The treatment of AMI in patients with acute leukemias should include antiplatelet and anticoagulant therapy, even with more aggressive methods depending on patient's age and clinical risk assessment.

Prieto C, Stam RW, Agraz-Doblas A, et al.
Activated KRAS Cooperates with MLL-AF4 to Promote Extramedullary Engraftment and Migration of Cord Blood CD34+ HSPC But Is Insufficient to Initiate Leukemia.
Cancer Res. 2016; 76(8):2478-89 [PubMed] Related Publications
The MLL-AF4 (MA4) fusion gene is the genetic hallmark of an aggressive infant pro-B-acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). Our understanding of MA4-mediated transformation is very limited. Whole-genome sequencing studies revealed a silent mutational landscape, which contradicts the aggressive clinical outcome of this hematologic malignancy. Only RAS mutations were recurrently detected in patients and found to be associated with poorer outcome. The absence of MA4-driven B-ALL models further questions whether MA4 acts as a single oncogenic driver or requires cooperating mutations to manifest a malignant phenotype. We explored whether KRAS activation cooperates with MA4 to initiate leukemia in cord blood-derived CD34(+) hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPC). Clonogenic and differentiation/proliferation assays demonstrated that KRAS activation does not cooperate with MA4 to immortalize CD34(+) HSPCs. Intrabone marrow transplantation into immunodeficient mice further showed that MA4 and KRAS(G12V) alone or in combination enhanced hematopoietic repopulation without impairing myeloid-lymphoid differentiation, and that mutated KRAS did not cooperate with MA4 to initiate leukemia. However, KRAS activation enhanced extramedullary hematopoiesis of MA4-expressing cell lines and CD34(+) HSPCs that was associated with leukocytosis and central nervous system infiltration, both hallmarks of infant t(4;11)(+) B-ALL. Transcriptional profiling of MA4-expressing patients supported a cell migration gene signature underlying the mutant KRAS-mediated phenotype. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that KRAS affects the homeostasis of MA4-expressing HSPCs, suggesting that KRAS activation in MA4(+) B-ALL is important for tumor maintenance rather than initiation. Cancer Res; 76(8); 2478-89. ©2016 AACR.

Benito JM, Godfrey L, Kojima K, et al.
MLL-Rearranged Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemias Activate BCL-2 through H3K79 Methylation and Are Sensitive to the BCL-2-Specific Antagonist ABT-199.
Cell Rep. 2015; 13(12):2715-27 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Targeted therapies designed to exploit specific molecular pathways in aggressive cancers are an exciting area of current research. Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) mutations such as the t(4;11) translocation cause aggressive leukemias that are refractory to conventional treatment. The t(4;11) translocation produces an MLL/AF4 fusion protein that activates key target genes through both epigenetic and transcriptional elongation mechanisms. In this study, we show that t(4;11) patient cells express high levels of BCL-2 and are highly sensitive to treatment with the BCL-2-specific BH3 mimetic ABT-199. We demonstrate that MLL/AF4 specifically upregulates the BCL-2 gene but not other BCL-2 family members via DOT1L-mediated H3K79me2/3. We use this information to show that a t(4;11) cell line is sensitive to a combination of ABT-199 and DOT1L inhibitors. In addition, ABT-199 synergizes with standard induction-type therapy in a xenotransplant model, advocating for the introduction of ABT-199 into therapeutic regimens for MLL-rearranged leukemias.

Sanjuan-Pla A, Bueno C, Prieto C, et al.
Revisiting the biology of infant t(4;11)/MLL-AF4+ B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Blood. 2015; 126(25):2676-85 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Infant B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) accounts for 10% of childhood ALL. The genetic hallmark of most infant B-ALL is chromosomal rearrangements of the mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene. Despite improvement in the clinical management and survival (∼85-90%) of childhood B-ALL, the outcome of infants with MLL-rearranged (MLL-r) B-ALL remains dismal, with overall survival <35%. Among MLL-r infant B-ALL, t(4;11)+ patients harboring the fusion MLL-AF4 (MA4) display a particularly poor prognosis and a pro-B/mixed phenotype. Studies in monozygotic twins and archived blood spots have provided compelling evidence of a single cell of prenatal origin as the target for MA4 fusion, explaining the brief leukemia latency. Despite its aggressiveness and short latency, current progress on its etiology, pathogenesis, and cellular origin is limited as evidenced by the lack of mouse/human models recapitulating the disease phenotype/latency. We propose this is because infant cancer is from an etiologic and pathogenesis standpoint distinct from adult cancer and should be seen as a developmental disease. This is supported by whole-genome sequencing studies suggesting that opposite to the view of cancer as a "multiple-and-sequential-hit" model, t(4;11) alone might be sufficient to spawn leukemia. The stable genome of these patients suggests that, in infant developmental cancer, one "big-hit" might be sufficient for overt disease and supports a key contribution of epigenetics and a prenatal cell of origin during a critical developmental window of stem cell vulnerability in the leukemia pathogenesis. Here, we revisit the biology of t(4;11)+ infant B-ALL with an emphasis on its origin, genetics, and disease models.

Tomizawa D, Kato M, Takahashi H, et al.
Favorable outcome in non-infant children with MLL-AF4-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a report from the Tokyo Children's Cancer Study Group.
Int J Hematol. 2015; 102(5):602-10 [PubMed] Related Publications
Unlike acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in infants, MLL gene rearrangement (MLL-r) is rare in ALL children (≥1 year old). The outcome and optimal treatment options for MLL-r ALL remain controversial. Among the 1827 children enrolled in the Tokyo Children's Cancer Study Group ALL studies L95-14, L99-15, L99-1502, L04-16, and L07-1602 (1995-2009), 25 MLL-r ALL patients (1.3 %) were identified. Their median age and leukocyte count at diagnosis was 2 years old (range 1-15 years) and 27,690/μL (range 1800-1,113,000/μL), respectively. All but one patient achieved complete remission (CR) after induction therapy, and 19 underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in first CR according to the protocol. The 5-year event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) rate were 60.0 % [standard error (SE), 9.7 %] and 64.0 % (SE 9.6 %), respectively. Notably, 9/12 cases with MLL-AF4-positive ALL are alive in continuous CR with a 75.0 % (SE 12.5 %) EFS rate. The causes of treatment failure were as follows: one induction failure, five relapses, and five transplant-related deaths. With intensive chemotherapy and allogeneic HSCT, favorable outcome of children (≥1 year old) with MLL-AF4-positive ALL was observed. However, considering the risk of acute and late toxicities associated with HSCT, its indication should be restricted.

Wu Z, Eguchi-Ishimae M, Yagi C, et al.
HMGA2 as a potential molecular target in KMT2A-AFF1-positive infant acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Br J Haematol. 2015; 171(5):818-29 [PubMed] Related Publications
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in infants is an intractable cancer in childhood. Although recent intensive chemotherapy progress has considerably improved ALL treatment outcome, disease cure is often accompanied by undesirable long-term side effects, and efficient, less toxic molecular targeting therapies have been anticipated. In infant ALL cells with KMT2A (MLL) fusion, the microRNA let-7b (MIRLET7B) is significantly downregulated by DNA hypermethylation of its promoter region. We show here that the expression of HMGA2, one of the oncogenes repressed by MIRLET7B, is reversely upregulated in infant ALL leukaemic cells, particularly in KMT2A-AFF1 (MLL-AF4) positive ALL. In addition to the suppression of MIRLET7B, KMT2A fusion proteins positively regulate the expression of HMGA2. HMGA2 is one of the negative regulators of CDKN2A gene, which encodes the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p16(INK4A) . The HMGA2 inhibitor netropsin, when combined with demethylating agent 5-azacytidine, upregulated and sustained the expression of CDKN2A, which resulted in growth suppression of KMT2A-AFF1-expressing cell lines. This effect was more apparent compared to treatment with 5-azacytidine alone. These results indicate that the MIRLET7B-HMGA2-CDKN2A axis plays an important role in cell proliferation of leukaemic cells and could be a possible molecular target for the therapy of infant ALL with KMT2A-AFF1.

Breese EH, Buechele C, Dawson C, et al.
Use of Genome Engineering to Create Patient Specific MLL Translocations in Primary Human Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(9):e0136644 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
One of the challenging questions in cancer biology is how a normal cell transforms into a cancer cell. There is strong evidence that specific chromosomal translocations are a key element in this transformation process. Our studies focus on understanding the developmental mechanism by which a normal stem or progenitor cell transforms into leukemia. Here we used engineered nucleases to induce simultaneous specific double strand breaks in the MLL gene and two different known translocation partners (AF4 and AF9), which resulted in specific chromosomal translocations in K562 cells as well as primary hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). The initiation of a specific MLL translocation in a small number of HSPCs likely mimics the leukemia-initiating event that occurs in patients. In our studies, the creation of specific MLL translocations in CD34+ cells was not sufficient to transform cells in vitro. Rather, a variety of fates was observed for translocation positive cells including cell loss over time, a transient proliferative advantage followed by loss of the clone, or a persistent proliferative advantage. These studies highlight the application of genome engineering tools in primary human HSPCs to induce and prospectively study the consequences of initiating translocation events in leukemia pathogenesis.

Ahmad K, Scholz B, Capelo R, et al.
AF4 and AF4-MLL mediate transcriptional elongation of 5-lipoxygenase mRNA by 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(28):25784-800 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The human 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO), encoded by the ALOX5 gene, is the key enzyme in the formation of pro-inflammatory leukotrienes. ALOX5 gene transcription is strongly stimulated by calcitriol (1α, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3) and TGFβ (transforming growth factor-β). Here, we investigated the influence of MLL (activator of transcript initiation), AF4 (activator of transcriptional elongation) as well as of the leukemogenic fusion proteins MLL-AF4 (ectopic activator of transcript initiation) and AF4-MLL (ectopic activator of transcriptional elongation) on calcitriol/TGFβ-dependent 5-LO transcript elongation. We present evidence that the AF4 complex directly interacts with the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and promotes calcitriol-dependent ALOX5 transcript elongation. Activation of transcript elongation was strongly enhanced by the AF4-MLL fusion protein but was sensitive to Flavopiridol. By contrast, MLL-AF4 displayed no effect on transcriptional elongation. Furthermore, HDAC class I inhibitors inhibited the ectopic effects caused by AF4-MLL on transcriptional elongation, suggesting that HDAC class I inhibitors are potential therapeutics for the treatment of t(4;11)(q21;q23) leukemia.

Ibrahim FF, Jamal R, Syafruddin SE, et al.
MicroRNA-200c and microRNA-31 regulate proliferation, colony formation, migration and invasion in serous ovarian cancer.
J Ovarian Res. 2015; 8:56 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Serous epithelial ovarian cancer (SEOC) is a highly metastatic disease and its progression has been implicated with microRNAs. This study aimed to identify the differentially expressed microRNAs in Malaysian patients with SEOC and examine the microRNAs functional roles in SEOC cells.
METHODS: Twenty-two SEOC and twenty-two normal samples were subjected to miRNA expression profiling using the locked nucleic acid (LNA) quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). The localization of miR-200c was determined via LNA in situ hybridization (ISH). Functional analysis of miR-200c and miR-31 on cell proliferation, migration and invasion and clonogenic cell survival were assessed in vitro. The putative target genes of the two miRNAs were predicted by miRWalk program and expression of the target genes in SEOC cell lines was validated.
RESULTS: The miRNA expression profiling revealed thirty-eight significantly dysregulated miRNAs in SEOC compared to normal ovarian tissues. Of these, eighteen were up-regulated whilst twenty miRNAs were down-regulated. We observed chromogenic miR-200c-ISH signal predominantly in the cytoplasmic compartment of both epithelial and inflammatory cancer cells. Re-expression of miR-200c significantly increased the cell proliferation and colony formation but reduced the migration and invasion of SEOC cells. In addition, miR-200c expression was inversely proportionate with the expression of deleted in liver cancer-1 (DLC-1) gene. Over-expression of miR-31 in SEOC cells resulted in decreased cell proliferation, clonogenic potential, cell migration and invasion. Meanwhile, miR-31 gain-of-function led to the down-regulation of AF4/FMR2 family member 1 (AFF1) gene.
CONCLUSIONS: These data suggested that miR-200c and miR-31 may play roles in the SEOC metastasis biology and could be considered as promising targets for therapeutic purposes.

van der Linden MH, Seslija L, Schneider P, et al.
Identification of genes transcriptionally responsive to the loss of MLL fusions in MLL-rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
PLoS One. 2015; 10(3):e0120326 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: MLL-rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in infants (<1 year) is characterized by high relapse rates and a dismal prognosis. To facilitate the discovery of novel therapeutic targets, we here searched for genes directly influenced by the repression of various MLL fusions.
METHODS: For this, we performed gene expression profiling after siRNA-mediated repression of MLL-AF4, MLL-ENL, and AF4-MLL in MLL-rearranged ALL cell line models. The obtained results were compared with various already established gene signatures including those consisting of known MLL-AF4 target genes, or those associated with primary MLL-rearranged infant ALL samples.
RESULTS: Genes that were down-regulated in response to the repression of MLL-AF4 and MLL-ENL appeared characteristically expressed in primary MLL-rearranged infant ALL samples, and often represented known MLL-AF4 targets genes. Genes that were up-regulated in response to the repression of MLL-AF4 and MLL-ENL often represented genes typically silenced by promoter hypermethylation in MLL-rearranged infant ALL. Genes that were affected in response to the repression of AF4-MLL showed significant enrichment in gene expression profiles associated with AF4-MLL expressing t(4;11)+ infant ALL patient samples.
CONCLUSION: We conclude that the here identified genes readily responsive to the loss of MLL fusion expression potentially represent attractive therapeutic targets and may provide additional insights in MLL-rearranged acute leukemias.

Marschalek R
MLL leukemia and future treatment strategies.
Arch Pharm (Weinheim). 2015; 348(4):221-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chromosomal rearrangements of the MLL gene are associated with high-risk infant, pediatric, adult, and therapy-induced acute leukemias. So far, about 80 different direct MLL fusions and about 120 reciprocal MLL fusions have been characterized at the molecular level. The common theme in these leukemia-associated genetic rearrangements is the genetic disruption of the MLL gene. This leads to MLL-X fusion proteins that still bind to nuclear factors (e.g., MEN1, LEDGF), which in turn allow them to target promoters and cause ectopic gene transcription. In addition, the most frequent MLL fusions (MLL-AF4, MLL-AF9, MLL-AF10, and MLL-ENL) are all recruiting the wild-type AF4 multiprotein complex that contains the target proteins P-TEFb, BRD4, and DOT1L. Vice versa, reciprocal X-MLL fusions exhibit a PHD domain (H3K4me3 reader domain), sequester the histone acetyltransferases CREBBP and MOF1 and bear a histone methyltransferase domain at their very C-terminus (SET domain). Except for AF4-MLL, the functional consequences deriving from reciprocal fusion proteins are not very well understood. However, based on our knowledge about the above-mentioned MLL fusions, it is reasonable to inhibit their oncogenic activity in a targeted fashion. Recent efforts in developing such inhibitors and their mode of action will be critically discussed.

Aoki Y, Watanabe T, Saito Y, et al.
Identification of CD34+ and CD34- leukemia-initiating cells in MLL-rearranged human acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Blood. 2015; 125(6):967-80 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Translocation of the mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene with AF4, AF9, or ENL results in acute leukemia with both lymphoid and myeloid involvement. We characterized leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) in primary infant MLL-rearranged leukemia using a xenotransplantation model. In MLL-AF4 patients, CD34(+)CD38(+)CD19(+) and CD34(-)CD19(+) cells initiated leukemia, and in MLL-AF9 patients, CD34(-)CD19(+) cells were LICs. In MLL-ENL patients, either CD34(+) or CD34(-) cells were LICs, depending on the pattern of CD34 expression. In contrast, in patients with these MLL translocations, CD34(+)CD38(-)CD19(-)CD33(-) cells were enriched for normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) with in vivo long-term multilineage hematopoietic repopulation capacity. Although LICs developed leukemic cells with clonal immunoglobulin heavy-chain (IGH) rearrangement in vivo, CD34(+)CD38(-)CD19(-)CD33(-) cells repopulated recipient bone marrow and spleen with B cells, showing broad polyclonal IGH rearrangement and recipient thymus with CD4(+) single positive (SP), CD8(+) SP, and CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive (DP) T cells. Global gene expression profiling revealed that CD9, CD32, and CD24 were over-represented in MLL-AF4, MLL-AF9, and MLL-ENL LICs compared with normal HSCs. In patient samples, these molecules were expressed in CD34(+)CD38(+) and CD34(-) LICs but not in CD34(+)CD38(-)CD19(-)CD33(-) HSCs. Identification of LICs and LIC-specific molecules in primary human MLL-rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemia may lead to improved therapeutic strategies for MLL-rearranged leukemia.

Lokken AA, Achille NJ, Chang MJ, et al.
Importance of a specific amino acid pairing for murine MLL leukemias driven by MLLT1/3 or AFF1/4.
Leuk Res. 2014; 38(11):1309-15 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Acute leukemias caused by translocations of the MLL gene at chromosome 11 band q23 (11q23) are characterized by a unique gene expression profile. More recently, data from several laboratories indicate that the most commonly encountered MLL fusion proteins, MLLT1, MLLT3, and AFF1 are found within a molecular complex that facilitates the elongation phase of mRNA transcription. Mutational analyses suggest that interaction between the MLLT1/3 proteins and AFF family proteins are required for experimental transformation of hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). Here, we define a specific pairing of two amino acids that creates a salt bridge between MLLT1/3 and AFF proteins that is critically important for MLL-mediated transformation of HPCs. Our findings, coupled with the newly defined structure of MLLT3 in complex with AFF1, should facilitate the development of small molecules that block this amino acid interaction and interfere with the activity of the most common MLL oncoproteins.

Ashby J, Flack K, Jimenez LA, et al.
Distribution profiling of circulating microRNAs in serum.
Anal Chem. 2014; 86(18):9343-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) are potential biomarkers useful in cancer diagnosis. They have been found to be bound to various carriers like proteins, lipoprotein particles, and exosomes. It is likely that only miRNAs in particular carriers, but not the overall quantity, are directly related to cancer development. Herein, we developed a method for rapid separation of different miRNA carriers in serum using asymmetrical flow field flow fractionation (AF4). Sera from two healthy individuals (control) or from two cancer patients (case) were fractionated. Six fractions enriching different types of miRNA carriers, such as the lipoprotein particles and exosomes, were collected. The quantities of eight selected miRNAs in each fraction were obtained by RT-qPCR to yield their distribution profiles among the carriers. Larger changes in miRNA quantity between the control and the case were detected in the fractionated results compared to the sum values. Statistical analysis on the distribution profiles also proved that, the quantities of 4 miRNAs within particular fractions showed significant difference between the controls and the cases. On the contrary, if the overall quantity of the miRNA was subject to the same statistical analysis, only 2 miRNAs exhibited significant difference. Moreover, principle component analysis revealed good separation between the controls and the cases with the fractionated miRNA amounts. All in all, we have demonstrated that, our method enables comprehensive screening of the distribution of circulating miRNAs in the carriers. The obtained distribution profile enlarges the miRNA expression difference between healthy individuals and cancer patients, facilitating the discovery of specific miRNA biomarkers for cancer diagnosis.

Fueller E, Schaefer D, Fischer U, et al.
Genomic inverse PCR for exploration of ligated breakpoints (GIPFEL), a new method to detect translocations in leukemia.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(8):e104419 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Here we present a novel method "Genomic inverse PCR for exploration of ligated breakpoints" (GIPFEL) that allows the sensitive detection of recurrent chromosomal translocations. This technique utilizes limited amounts of DNA as starting material and relies on PCR based quantification of unique DNA sequences that are created by circular ligation of restricted genomic DNA from translocation bearing cells. Because the complete potential breakpoint region is interrogated, a prior knowledge of the individual, specific interchromosomal fusion site is not required. We validated GIPFEL for the five most common gene fusions associated with childhood leukemia (MLL-AF4, MLL-AF9, MLL-ENL, ETV6-RUNX1, and TCF3-PBX1). A workflow of restriction digest, purification, ligation, removal of linear fragments and precipitation enriching for circular DNA was developed. GIPFEL allowed detection of translocation specific signature sequences down to a 10-4 dilution which is close to the theoretical limit. In a blinded proof-of-principle study utilizing DNA from cell lines and 144 children with B-precursor-ALL associated translocations this method was 100% specific with no false positive results. Sensitivity was 83%, 65%, and 24% for t(4;11), t(9;11) and t(11;19) respectively. Translocation t(12;21) was correctly detected in 64% and t(1;19) in 39% of the cases. In contrast to other methods, the characteristics of GIPFEL make it particularly attractive for prospective studies.

Moura SV, Andrade F, Magalhães IQ, et al.
Clinical and molecular epidemiology of neonatal leukemia in Brazil.
Leuk Lymphoma. 2015; 56(4):903-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
The clinical and molecular findings of 77 cases of neonatal leukemia (NL) and 380 of infant leukemia (IL) were selected to distinguish features between NL and IL. Somatic gene mutations associated with acute leukemia including FLT3, RAS and PTPN11 were revisited. There were 42 cases of congenital leukemia associated with Down syndrome (DS) and 39 of these cases presented features of acute myeloid leukemia (AML)-M7. Twenty-seven of the DS cases underwent spontaneous remission and were reclassified as a transient myeloproliferative disorder. GATA1 mutations were found in 70% of these cases. In non-DS, frequent abnormalities were MLL rearrangements, mainly MLL-AFF1 in acute lymphoblastic leukemia and MLL-MLLT3 in AML. The FLT3 mutation was not found, while RAS (n = 4) and PTPN11 (n = 2) mutations were identified and reported for the first time in NL. There was substantial evidence to support that somatic abnormalities occur in utero. Thus, congenital leukemia is a good model for understanding leukemogenesis.

Holdener SL, Harrington L, Nguyen J, et al.
Therapy-related B lymphoblastic leukemia with t(4;11)(q21;q23)/AF4-MLL in a patient with mantle cell lymphoma after recent aggressive chemotherapy: a unique case report.
Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2014; 7(4):1800-4 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a mature B-cell lymphoma associated with the hallmark translocation t(11;14)(q13;32), which involves the cyclin D1 (CCND1) and immunoglobin heavy chain (IgH) genes. It may transform to a more aggressive blastoid or pleomorphic variant, with or without acquisition of chromosomal abnormalities. MCL could also present with a leukemic phase with marked lymphocytosis. A literature search did not reveal any prior reports of MCL transforming to or followed by a B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL).

Li X, Sun N, Huang X, Ju X
Two pairs of monozygotic twins with concordant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL): case report.
J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2014; 36(5):e299-303 [PubMed] Related Publications
The occurrence of leukemia in twins is rare but has a crucial implication in the genetic research of leukemia. This report presents 2 pairs of monozygotic twins with precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Mixed lineage leukemia (MLL)-AF4 fusion genes were found in the twin sisters. This study is the first to report on infant ALL harboring the 46,XY, -4, +10, -13, del(14)(q24), -15, +2mar[4 cells] complex chromosome abnormality. Our report showed that the unified cytogenetic features in monozygotic twins and MLL-AF4 fusion gene may be necessary but insufficient for the clinical development and prognosis of identical twins with leukemia.

Bardini M, Woll PS, Corral L, et al.
Clonal variegation and dynamic competition of leukemia-initiating cells in infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia with MLL rearrangement.
Leukemia. 2015; 29(1):38-50 [PubMed] Related Publications
Distinct from other forms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), infant ALL with mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene rearrangement, the most common leukemia occurring within the first year of life, might arise without the need for cooperating genetic lesions. Through Ig/TCR rearrangement analysis of MLL-AF4+ infant ALL at diagnosis and xenograft leukemias from mice transplanted with the same diagnostic samples, we established that MLL-AF4+ infant ALL is composed of a branching subclonal architecture already at diagnosis, frequently driven by an Ig/TCR-rearranged founder clone. Some MLL-AF4+ clones appear to be largely quiescent at diagnosis but can reactivate and dominate when serially transplanted into immunodeficient mice, whereas other dominant clones at diagnosis can become more quiescent, suggesting a dynamic competition between actively proliferating and quiescent subclones. Investigation of paired diagnostic and relapse samples suggested that relapses often occur from subclones already present but more quiescent at diagnosis. Copy-number alterations identified at relapse might contribute to the activation and expansion of previously quiescent subclones. Finally, each of the identified subclones is able to contribute to the diverse phenotypic pool of MLL-AF4+ leukemia-propagating cells. Unraveling of the subclonal architecture and dynamics in MLL+ infant ALL may provide possible explanations for the therapy resistance and frequent relapses observed in this group of poor prognosis ALL.

Sakamoto K, Imamura T, Yano M, et al.
Sensitivity of MLL-rearranged AML cells to all-trans retinoic acid is associated with the level of H3K4me2 in the RARα promoter region.
Blood Cancer J. 2014; 4:e205 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is well established as differentiation therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in which the PML-RARα (promyelocytic leukemia-retinoic acid receptor α) fusion protein causes blockade of the retinoic acid (RA) pathway; however, in types of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) other than APL, the mechanism of RA pathway inactivation is not fully understood. This study revealed the potential mechanism of high ATRA sensitivity of mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL)-AF9-positive AML compared with MLL-AF4/5q31-positive AML. Treatment with ATRA induced significant myeloid differentiation accompanied by upregulation of RARα, C/EBPα, C/EBPɛ and PU.1 in MLL-AF9-positive but not in MLL-AF4/5q31-positive cells. Combining ATRA with cytarabine had a synergistic antileukemic effect in MLL-AF9-positive cells in vitro. The level of dimethyl histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4me2) in the RARα gene-promoter region, PU.1 upstream regulatory region (URE) and RUNX1+24/+25 intronic enhancer was higher in MLL-AF9-positive cells than in MLL-AF4-positive cells, and inhibiting lysine-specific demethylase 1, which acts as a histone demethylase inhibitor, reactivated ATRA sensitivity in MLL-AF4-positive cells. These findings suggest that the level of H3K4me2 in the RARα gene-promoter region, PU.1 URE and RUNX1 intronic enhancer is determined by the MLL-fusion partner. Our findings provide insight into the mechanisms of ATRA sensitivity in AML and novel treatment strategies for ATRA-resistant AML.

van der Linden MH, Willekes M, van Roon E, et al.
MLL fusion-driven activation of CDK6 potentiates proliferation in MLL-rearranged infant ALL.
Cell Cycle. 2014; 13(5):834-44 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia in infants (< 1 year-of-age) is characterized by a high incidence of MLL rearrangements. Recently, direct targets of the MLL fusion protein have been identified. However, functional validation of the identified targets remained unacknowledged. In this study, we identify CDK6 as a direct target of the MLL fusion protein and an important player in the proliferation advantage of MLL-rearranged leukemia. CDK6 mRNA was significantly higher expressed in MLL-rearranged infant ALL patients compared with MLL wild-type ALL patients (P < 0.001). Decrease of MLL-AF4 and MLL-ENL fusion mRNA expression by siRNAs resulted in downregulation of CDK6, affirming a direct relationship between the presence of the MLL fusion and CDK6 expression. Knockdown of CDK6 itself significantly inhibited proliferation in the MLL-AF4-positive cell line SEM, whereas knockdown of the highly homologous gene CDK4 had virtually no effect on the cell cycle. Furthermore, we show in vitro sensitivity of MLL-rearranged leukemia cell lines to the CDK4/6-inhibitor PD0332991, inducing a remarkable G 1 arrest, and downregulation of its downstream targets pRB1 and EZH2. We therefore conclude that CDK6 is indeed a direct target of MLL fusion proteins, playing an important role in the proliferation advantage of MLL-rearranged ALL cells.

Škorvaga M, Nikitina E, Kubeš M, et al.
Incidence of common preleukemic gene fusions in umbilical cord blood in Slovak population.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(3):e91116 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The first event in origination of many childhood leukemias is likely the presence of preleukemic clone (transformed hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells with preleukemic gene fusions (PGF)) in newborn. Thus, the screening of umbilical cord blood (UCB) for PGF may be of high importance for developing strategies for childhood leukemia prevention and treatment. However, the data on incidence of PGF in UCB are contradictive. We have compared multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and real-time quantitative PCR (RT qPCR) in neonates from Slovak National Birth Cohort. According to multiplex PCR, all 135 screened samples were negative for the most frequent PGF of B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). To explore the prevalence of prognostically important TEL-AML1, MLL-AF4 and BCR-ABL (p190), 200 UCB were screened using RT qPCR. The initial screening showed an unexpectedly high incidence of studied PGF. The validation of selected samples in two laboratories confirmed approximately ¼ of UCB positive, resulting in ∼4% incidence of TEL-AML1, ∼6.25% incidence of BCR-ABL1 p190, and ∼0.75% frequency of MLL-AF4. In most cases, the PGF presented at very low level, about 1-5 copies per 105 cells. We hypothesize that low PGF numbers reflect their relatively late origin and are likely to be eliminated in further development while higher number of PGF reflects earlier origination and may represent higher risk for leukemia.

Lim JH, Jang S, Park CJ, et al.
FISH analysis of MLL gene rearrangements: detection of the concurrent loss or gain of the 3' signal and its prognostic significance.
Int J Lab Hematol. 2014; 36(5):571-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: The rearrangement of the mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene occurs through translocations and insertions involving a variety of partner chromosome genes. However, there are few studies on aberrant MLL signal patterns such as concurrent 3' MLL deletion.
METHODS: A total of 84 patients with acute leukemia (AL) who had MLL rearrangements detected by florescence in situ hybridization (FISH) were enrolled in the study. The distribution of MLL fusion partner genes was analyzed, and aberrant MLL signals were evaluated.
RESULTS: Seventy-seven (91.7%) patients had MLL rearrangements, involving previously described translocation partner genes (TPGs). Among these TPGs, the frequencies of MLLT3, AFF1, MLLT4, and ELL were 29.8%, 17.9%, 15.5%, and 13.1%, respectively. A high frequency of MLLT4 in our study was due to the high proportion of acute myeloid leukemia cases in pediatric and adult patients. Aberrant MLL signals were found in 18 patients: 11 (61.1%) with 3' MLL signal loss and 7 with 3' MLL signal gain. All cases with 3' MLL signal gain were due to an extra derivative partner chromosome. The median overall survival period of patients with 3' MLL gain was shorter than that in patients without aberrant MLL signal patterns.
CONCLUSION: Aberrant MLL signals were frequently detected by FISH analysis. The 3' MLL gain was associated with poor prognosis in patients with AL. Therefore, it is important to detect aberrant MLL signal patterns using FISH analysis.

Tamai H, Miyake K, Yamaguchi H, et al.
Inhibition of S100A6 induces GVL effects in MLL/AF4-positive ALL in human PBMC-SCID mice.
Bone Marrow Transplant. 2014; 49(5):699-703 [PubMed] Related Publications
Mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL)/AF4-positive ALL is associated with a poor prognosis even after allogeneic hematopoietic SCT (allo-HSCT). We reported previously that MLL/AF4-positive ALL shows resistance to TNF-α, which is the main factor in the GVL effect, by upregulation of S100A6 expression followed by interference with the p53-caspase 8-caspase 3 pathway in vitro. We examined whether inhibition of S100A6 can induce an effective GVL effect on MLL/AF4-positive ALL in a mouse model. MLL/AF4-positive ALL cell lines (SEM) transduced with lentiviral vectors expressing both S100A6 siRNA and luciferase (SEM-Luc-S100A6 siRNA) were produced. SEM-Luc-S100A6 siRNA cells and SEM-Luc-control siRNA cells were injected into groups of five SCID mice (1 × 10(7)/body). After confirmation of engraftment of SEM cells by in vivo imaging, the mice in each group were injected with 4.8 × 10(7) human PBMCs. SEM-Luc-S100A6 siRNA-injected mice showed significantly longer survival periods than SEM-Luc-control siRNA-injected mice (P=0.002). SEM-Luc-S100A6 siRNA-injected mice showed significantly slower tumor growth than those injected with SEM-Luc-control siRNA (P<0.0001). These results suggested that inhibition of S100A6 may be a promising therapeutic target for MLL/AF4-positive ALL in combination with allo-HSCT.

Okuda H, Kawaguchi M, Kanai A, et al.
MLL fusion proteins link transcriptional coactivators to previously active CpG-rich promoters.
Nucleic Acids Res. 2014; 42(7):4241-56 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) maintains the expression of cellular memory genes during development, while leukemic MLL fusion proteins aberrantly maintain expression of hematopoietic stem cell program genes such as HOXA9 to cause leukemia. However, the molecular mechanism of gene activation is unclear. Here we show that only two functional modules are necessary and sufficient for target recognition: those that bind to non-methylated CpGs and di-/tri-methylated histone H3 lysine 36 (H3K36me2/3). An artificial protein composed of the two targeting modules and an interaction domain for AF4-family coactivators can functionally substitute for MLL fusion proteins. Because H3K36me2/3 markers are indicative of active transcription, MLL fusion proteins target previously active CpG-rich genes and activate transcription by recruiting coactivators thereto. Our results indicate that such chromatin context-dependent gene activation is the fundamental mechanism by which MLL fusion proteins maintain the expression of the cellular memory/hematopoietic stem cell program genes.

Chen YP, Lin HJ, Chen JS, et al.
CDKN1A-mediated responsiveness of MLL-AF4-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia to Aurora kinase-A inhibitors.
Int J Cancer. 2014; 135(3):751-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
Overexpression of Aurora kinases is largely observed in many cancers, including hematologic malignancies. In this study, we investigated the effects and molecular mechanisms of Aurora kinase inhibitors in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Western blot analysis showed that both Aurora-A and Aurora-B are overexpressed in ALL cell lines and primary ALL cells. Both VE-465 and VX-680 effectively inhibited Aurora kinase activities in nine ALL cell lines, which exhibited different susceptibilities to the inhibitors. Cells sensitive to Aurora kinase inhibitors underwent apoptosis at an IC50 of ∼10-30 nM and displayed a phenotype of Aurora-A inhibition, whereas cells resistant to Aurora kinase inhibitors (with an IC50 more than 10 μM) accumulated polyploidy, which may have resulted from Aurora-B inhibition. Drug susceptibility of ALL cell lines was not correlated with the expression level or activation status of Aurora kinases. Interestingly, RS4;11 and MV4;11 cells, which contain the MLL-AF4 gene, were both sensitive to Aurora kinase-A inhibitors treatment. Complementary DNA (cDNA) microarray analysis suggested that CDKN1A might govern the drug responsiveness of ALL cell lines in a TP53-independent manner. Most importantly, primary ALL cells with MLL-AF4 and CDKN1A expression were sensitive to Aurora kinase inhibitors. Our study suggests CDKN1A could be a potential biomarker in determining the drug responsiveness of Aurora kinase inhibitors in ALL, particularly in MLL-AF4-positive patients.

Hasan SK, Barba G, Metzler M, et al.
Clustering of genomic breakpoints at the MLL locus in therapy-related acute leukemia with t(4;11)(q21;q23).
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2014; 53(3):248-54 [PubMed] Related Publications
Genomic characterization of translocation breakpoints is relevant to identify possible mechanisms underlying their origin. The consistent association of anthracylines (e.g., epirubicin and idarubicin) in inducing therapy-related acute leukemias (t-AL) with mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene rearrangement suggests that MLL translocations are causative events for t-AL. Using asymmetric multiplex PCR strategy followed by direct DNA sequencing, we characterized the genomic breakpoints of the MLL and AFF1 genes in two patients who developed t-AL with t(4;11)(q21;q23). Chemotherapeutic treatment of the primary disease in both patients included topoisomerase II (topo II) targeting agents. In one case, the MLL breakpoint was located in intron 9 at nucleotide position chr11:118354284 while the AFF1 breakpoint was in intron 3 at nucleotide position chr4:87992070. The breakpoint junction sequences revealed an insertion of two nucleotides at the MLL-AFF1 junction. In the other patient, the MLL breakpoint was located in intron 11 at nucleotide position chr11:118359130-32 and the AFF1 break was in intron 3 at nucleotide position chr4:87996215-17. The MLL breakpoint found in the latter patient was identical to that of two previously reported cases, strongly suggesting the presence of a preferential site of DNA cleavage in the presence of topo II inhibitor. In addition, microhomologies at the breakpoint junctions were indicative of DNA repair by the non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway. This study further supports the evidence that MLL breakpoints in therapy-related acute leukemia with MLL-AFF1 are clustered in the telomeric half of the breakpoint cluster region that contains topo II recognition sites.

Kiyokawa N, Iijima K, Tomita O, et al.
Significance of CD66c expression in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Leuk Res. 2014; 38(1):42-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Upon analyzing 696 childhood B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL) cases, we identified the characteristics of CD66c expression. In addition to the confirmation of strong correlation with BCR-ABL positivity and hyperdiploid, we further observed that CD66c is frequently expressed in CRLF2-positive (11/15, p<0.01 against chimeric gene-negative) as well as hypodiploid cases (3/4), whereas it is never expressed in ETV6-RUNX1, MLL-AF4, MLL-AF9, MLL-ENL, and E2A-PBX1-positive cases. Although the expression of CD66c itself is not directly linked to the prognosis, the accompanying genetic abnormalities are important prognostic factors for BCP-ALL, indicating the importance of CD66c expression in the initial diagnosis of BCP-ALL.

Barbosa TC, Andrade FG, Lopes BA, et al.
Impact of mutations in FLT3, PTPN11 and RAS genes on the overall survival of pediatric B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia in Brazil.
Leuk Lymphoma. 2014; 55(7):1501-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
We analyzed mutations in four genes (FLT3, KRAS/NRAS and PTPN11) that might disrupt the RAS/mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPKinase) signaling pathway, to evaluate their prognostic value in children younger than 16 years old with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Bcp-ALL). The overall survival (OS) was determined with the Kaplan-Meier method. MAPKinase genes were mutated in 25.4% and 20.1% of childhood and infant Bcp-ALL, respectively. Children with hyperdiploidy were more prone to harboring a MAPKinase gene mutation (odds ratio [OR] 3.18; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.07-9.49). The mean OS of all cases was 54.0 months. FLT3 and PTPN11 mutations had no impact on OS. K/NRAS mutations were strongly associated with MLL-AFF1 (OR 5.78; 95% CI 1.00-33.24), and conferred poorer OS (p = 0.034) in univariate analysis.

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