Cancer has been shown to result from the sequential acquisition of genetic alterations in a single lineage of cells. In leukemia, increasing evidence has supported the idea that this accumulation of mutations occurs in self-renewing hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These HSCs containing some, but not all, leukemia-specific mutations have been termed as pre-leukemic. Multiple recent studies have sought to understand these pre-leukemic HSCs and determine to what extent they contribute to leukemogenesis. These studies have elucidated patterns in mutation acquisition in leukemia, demonstrated resistance of pre-leukemic cells to standard induction chemotherapy and identified these pre-leukemic cells as a putative reservoir for the generation of relapsed disease. When combined with decades of research on clonal evolution in leukemia, mouse models of leukemogenesis, and recent massively parallel sequencing-based studies of primary patient leukemia, studies of pre-leukemic HSCs begin to piece together the evolutionary puzzle of leukemogenesis. These results have broad implications for leukemia treatment, targeted therapies, minimal residual disease monitoring and early detection screening.
View details for DOI 10.1038/leu.2014.211
View details for Web of Science ID 000346177500002
View details for PubMedID 25005245
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4262622