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Abstract

We have previously reported expression of WT1 in acute leukemia. To elucidate its biological significance, we examined the effect of the suppression of the WT1 expression by WT1 antisense oligomers on the growth of the leukemic cells expressing WT1. When 20 different WT1 antisense (AS) oligomers covering from the 5′ cap sites of the WT1 gene to the 3′ end were examined for the inhibitory effect on the growth of K562 cells expressing WT1, four WT1 AS oligomers inhibited the cell growth, whereas WT1 sense and random sequence oligomers had no effect on the cell growth of K562. Moreover, WT1 AS oligomers significantly inhibited the growth of the clonogenic cells of fresh leukemic cells in six of 14 patients with acute myeloid leukemia, in one of two patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) chronic phase, and in one of one patient with CML blastic crisis. However, these oligomers did not inhibit normal colony-forming unit-granulocyte-macrophage. Western blot analysis clearly demonstrated the significant reduction in the WT1 protein levels in the K562 and fresh leukemic cells that were treated with the WT1 AS oligomers, confirming that the inhibitory effect of the WT1 AS oligomers on the cell growth operates via the reduction in the WT1 protein levels. These results show that WT1 plays an important role in leukemogenesis.