Elevated expression of Evi-1 is associated with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), where it confers resistance to current cancer treatments. Altered expression of Evi-1 has also been found in a variety of solid tumors. Deletion of Evi-1 in embryonic mice is lethal but its role in embryogenesis and development is not currently understood.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo recently created an inducible knockout of Evi-1 in mice and showed that it is essential for proliferation and maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells. They found that Evi-1 was necessary for normal production of hematopoietic cells both during development and in adult animals in a dose-dependent manner. Deletion of Evi-1 also inhibited transformation of myeloid cells. They suggest that the ability of Evi-1 to enhance proliferation and survival of stem cells may similarly contribute to the self-renewal capacity of cancer stem cells, and therefore offer a potential target for future therapy.