Radiation exposure induces acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in humans and mice. Recent studies postulated that AML stem cells of spontaneous human AML arise from hematopoietic stem cells. However, other studies support the possibility that short-lived committed progenitors transform into AML stem cells, accompanied by a particular gene mutation. It remains unclear whether AML stem cells are present in radiation-induced AML, and information regarding AML-initiating cells is lacking. In this study, we identified and analyzed AML stem cells of mice with radiation-induced AML. The AML stem cells were identified by transplanting 100 bone marrow cells from mice with radiation-induced AML. We injected 100 cells of each of seven cell populations corresponding to different stages of hematopoietic cell differentiation and compared the latencies of AMLs induced in recipient mice. The identified radiation-induced AML stem cells frequently displayed similarities in both CD antigen and gene expression profiles with normal common myeloid progenitors. The number of common myeloid progenitor-like AML stem cells was significantly increased in mice with radiation-induced AML, but the progeny of common myeloid progenitors was decreased. In addition, analysis of radiation effects on the hematopoietic system showed that common myeloid progenitor cells were extremely radiosensitive and that their numbers remained at low levels for more than 2 months after radiation exposure. Our results suggest that murine radiation-induced AML stem cells arise from radiosensitive cells at a common myeloid progenitor stage.
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Vol. 176 • No. 3