The NF1 tumor-suppressor gene is frequently inactivated in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, and Nf1 mutant mice model this myeloproliferative disorder (MPD). Competitive repopulation assays were performed to quantify the proliferative advantage of Nf1-/-hematopoietic cells in vivo. Nf1 mutant stem cells demonstrated a growth advantage that was greatest in myeloid lineage cells and least pronounced in Tlymphocytes. Surprisingly, although low numbers of Nf1-deficient cells consistently out-competed wild-type cells, levels of chimerism were stable over months of observation, and MPD was not observed unless threshold numbers of mutant cells were injected. These data showing that normal competitor cells can strongly modulate the growth of mutant populations in vivo have general implications for modeling cancer in the mouse. In particular, strains in which cancer-associated mutations are expressed in fields of target cells may not accurately model early events in tumorigenesis because they eliminate the requirement for a mutant clone to outcompete resident normal cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas