An scl gene product lacking the transactivation domain induces bony abnormalities and cooperates with LMO1 to generate T-cell malignancies in transgenic mice.
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The product of the scl (also called tal-1 or TCL5) gene is a basic domain, helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor required for the development of hematopoietic cells. Additionally, scl gene disruption and dysregulation, by either chromosomal translocations or a site-specific interstitial deletion whereby 5' regulatory elements of the sil gene become juxtaposed to the body of the scl gene, is associated with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma. Here we show that an inappropriately expressed scl protein, driven by sil regulatory elements, can cause aggressive T-cell malignancies in collaboration with a misexpressed LMO1 protein, thus recapitulating the situation seen in a subset of human T-cell ALL. Moreover, we show that inappropriately expressed scl can interfere with the development of other tissues derived from mesoderm. Lastly, we show that an scl construct lacking the scl transactivation domain collaborates with misexpressed LMO1, demonstrating that the scl transactivation domain is dispensable for oncogenesis, and supporting the hypothesis that the scl gene product exerts its oncogenic action through a dominant-negative mechanism.