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Mouse models of CLL: In vivo modeling of disease initiation, progression, and transformation to Richter transformation.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a highly complex disease characterized by the proliferation of CD5+ B cells in lymphoid tissues. Current modern treatments have brought significant clinical benefits to CLL patients. However, there are still unmet needs. Patients relapse on Bruton's tyrosine kinase inhibitors and BCL2 inhibitors and often develop more aggressive diseases including Richter transformation (RT), an incurable complication of up to ∼10% patients. This evidence underscores the need for improved immunotherapies, combination treatment strategies, and predictive biomarkers. A mouse model that can recapitulate human CLL disease and certain components of the tumor immune microenvironment represents a promising preclinical tool for such purposes. In this review, we provide an overview of CRISPR-engineered and xenograft mouse models utilizing either cell lines, or primary CLL cells suitable for studies of key events driving the disease onset, progression and transformation of CLL. We also review how CRISPR/Cas9 established mouse models carrying loss-of-function lesions allow one to study key mutations driving disease progression. Finally, we discuss how next generation humanized mice might improve to generation of faithful xenograft mouse models of human CLL.

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