The cause of polycythaemia vera, a blood cell disease linked to leukaemia, is revealed in an advance online publication from Nature.
Polycythaemia results in excessive blood clotting and overproduction of white blood cells. Previous experiments had suggested that the molecular mechanism behind polycythaemia may also be implicated in leukaemia.
William Vainchenker and colleagues show that polycythaemia is triggered when an enzyme called JAK2 operates more than it normally should. JAK2 is involved in the signalling pathway that transfers chemical messages from the outside of a cell to the nucleus within.
Mice carrying cells with a mutant JAK2 gene that is always active experienced similar blood cell problems. Understanding this mechanism may provide important leads for the treatment of these blood disorders.
William Vainchenker (Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France)
(C) Nature press release.
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