The transcription factor homeobox B4 (HOXB4) is a promising agent capable of providing a growth advantage to genetically modified hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). In this issue of the JCI, Zhang and colleagues overexpressed HOXB4 in HSPCs from large animals using retroviral vectors (see the related article beginning on page 1502). Two years after transplantation, most animals developed leukemia, a consequence of combined HOXB4 and deregulated protooncogene expression. These results highlight the risks of combining integrating vectors and growth-promoting genes for clinical applications.
Andre Larochelle, Cynthia E. Dunbar