The genetics and molecular biology of T-ALL

Tiziana Girardi, Carmen Vicente, Jan Cools and Kim De Keersmaecker


T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive malignancy caused by the accumulation of genomic lesions that affect the development of T cells. For many years, it has been established that deregulated expression of transcription factors, impairment of the CDKN2A/2B cell-cycle regulators, and hyperactive NOTCH1 signaling play prominent roles in the pathogenesis of this leukemia. In the past decade, systematic screening of T-ALL genomes by high-resolution copy-number arrays and next-generation sequencing technologies has revealed that T-cell progenitors accumulate additional mutations affecting JAK/STAT signaling, protein translation, and epigenetic control, providing novel attractive targets for therapy. In this review, we provide an update on our knowledge of T-ALL pathogenesis, the opportunities for the introduction of targeted therapy, and the challenges that are still ahead.

  • Submitted October 12, 2016.
  • Accepted November 10, 2016.
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