Among various myeloid leukemias which were induced by X rays in C3H/He mice (Seki et al., Radiat. Res. 127, 146-149, 1991), the three most frequent types were analyzed for myeloperoxidase, c-myc, c-myb, and c-fos mRNAs. It was shown by in situ hybridization that all the component cells were positive for myeloperoxidase mRNA in granulocytic leukemia, whereas only half the cells were positive in myelomonocytic leukemia and none in monocytic leukemia. Granulocytic leukemia was also characterized by a persistently heightened expression of c-fos, while the other two types of leukemia showed negligibly low expression of the c-fos message. By contrast, both c-myc and c-myb were expressed to a similar extent in all three types of leukemia. When fresh granulocytic leukemia cells were transferred to culture in a medium containing 0.5% fetal calf serum, c-fos mRNA was decreased rapidly during incubation. The decay of c-fos mRNA was inhibited by cycloheximide markedly but was not changed significantly by actinomycin D. In the culture containing 10% fetal calf serum, the rate of decay of c-fos mRNA was slowed down significantly. Addition of dibutyryl cyclic AMP rapidly restored the c-fos expression and kept it elevated for at least 2 h in the cultured granulocytic leukemia cells. Phorbol ester (TPA) and calcium ionophore A23187 also caused a rapid but transient c-fos expression. A transient c-fos expression was inducible by TPA in the other two types of leukemia cells and in the granulocytic leukemia cells. The results suggest that the persistent expression of c-fos is distinguished from its transient expression and is characteristic for granulocytic leukemia cells as it is for normal mature granulocytes.

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