Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most frequent type of leukemia in adults, is a lymphoproliferative disease characterized by the clonal expansion of mature CD5+ B cells in peripheral blood, bone marrow, and secondary lymphoid tissues. Over the past decade, substantial advances have been made in understanding the pathogenesis of CLL, including the identification of recurrent mutations, and clarification of clonal architectures, transcriptome analyses, and the multistep leukemogenic process. The biology of CLL is now better understood. The present review focuses on recent insights into CLL leukemogenesis, emphasizing the role of genetic lesions, and the multistep process initiating from very immature hematopoietic stem cells. Finally, we also review progress in the study of human B1 B cells, the putative normal counterparts of CLL cells.
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