Global and Hox-specific roles for the MLL1 methyltransferase.
ABSTRACT: The mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL1/ALL-1/HRX) histone methyltransferase is involved in the epigenetic maintenance of transcriptional memory and the pathogenesis of human leukemias. To understand its role in cell type specification, we determined the human genomic binding sites of MLL1. We found that MLL1 functions as a human equivalent of yeast Set1. Like Set1, MLL1 localizes with RNA polymerase II (Pol II) to the 5' end of actively transcribed genes, where histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation occurs. Consistent with this global role in transcription, MLL1 also localizes to microRNA (miRNA) loci that are involved in leukemia and hematopoiesis. In contrast to the 5' proximal binding behavior at most protein-coding genes, MLL1 occupies an extensive domain within a transcriptionally active region of the HoxA cluster. The ability of MLL1 to serve as a start site-specific global transcriptional regulator and to participate in larger chromatin domains at the Hox genes reveals dual roles for MLL1 in maintenance of cellular identity.
Project description:Several acute lymphoblastic and myelogenous leukemias are correlated with alterations in the human mixed lineage leukemia protein-1 (MLL1) gene. MLL1 is a member of the evolutionarily conserved SET1 family of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methyltransferases, which are required for the regulation of distinct groups of developmentally regulated genes in metazoans. Despite the important biological role of SET1 family enzymes and their involvement in human leukemias, relatively little is understood about how these enzymes work. Here we review several recent structural and biochemical studies that are beginning to shed light on the molecular mechanisms for the regulation of H3K4 methylation by the human MLL1 enzyme.
Project description:Histone H3 lysine 4 (K4) methylation is a prevalent mark associated with transcription activation and is mainly catalyzed by the MLL/SET1 family histone methyltransferases. A common feature of the mammalian MLL/SET1 complexes is the presence of three core components (RbBP5, Ash2L and WDR5) and a catalytic subunit containing a SET domain. Unlike most other histone lysine methyltransferases, all four proteins are required for efficient H3 K4 methylation. Despite extensive efforts, mechanisms for how three core components regulate MLL/SET1 methyltransferase activity remain elusive. Here we show that a heterodimer of Ash2L and RbBP5 has intrinsic histone methyltransferase activity. This activity requires the highly conserved SPRY domain of Ash2L and a short peptide of RbBP5. We demonstrate that both Ash2L and the MLL1 SET domain are capable of binding to S-adenosyl-L- [methyl-(3)H] methionine in the MLL1 core complex. Mutations in the MLL1 SET domain that fail to support overall H3 K4 methylation also compromise SAM binding by Ash2L. Taken together, our results show that the Ash2L/RbBP5 heterodimer plays a critical role in the overall catalysis of MLL1 mediated H3 K4 methylation. The results we describe here provide mechanistic insights for unique regulation of the MLL1 methyltransferase activity. It suggests that both Ash2L/RbBP5 and the MLL1 SET domain make direct contacts with the substrates and contribute to the formation of a joint catalytic center. Given the shared core configuration among all MLL/SET1 family HMTs, it will be interesting to test whether the mechanism we describe here can be generalized to other MLL/SET1 family members in the future.
Project description:Developmental transcription programs are epigenetically regulated by the competing actions of polycomb and trithorax (TrxG) protein complexes, which repress and activate genes, respectively. Ewing sarcoma is a developmental tumor that is associated with widespread de-regulation of developmental transcription programs, including HOX programs. Posterior HOXD genes are abnormally over-expressed by Ewing sarcoma and HOXD13, in particular, contributes to the tumorigenic phenotype. In MLL1 fusion-driven leukemia, aberrant activation of HOXA genes is epigenetically mediated by the TrxG complex and HOXA gene expression and leukemogenesis are critically dependent on the protein-protein interaction between the TrxG proteins MLL1 and menin. Based on these data, we investigated whether posterior HOXD gene activation and Ewing sarcoma tumorigenicity are similarly mediated by and dependent on MLL1 and/or menin. Our findings demonstrate that Ewing sarcomas express high levels of both MLL1 and menin and that continued expression of both proteins is required for maintenance of tumorigenicity. In addition, exposure of Ewing sarcoma cells to MI-503, an inhibitor of the MLL1-menin protein-protein interaction developed for MLL1-fusion driven leukemia, leads to loss of tumorigenicity and down-regulated expression of the posterior HOXD gene cluster. Together these data demonstrate an essential role for MLL1 and menin in mediating tumor maintenance and posterior HOXD gene activation in Ewing sarcoma. A critical dependency of these tumors on the MLL1-menin interaction presents a potentially novel therapeutic target.
Project description:Transcription in eukaryotic genomes depends on enzymes that regulate the degree of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methylation. The mixed lineage leukemia protein-1 (MLL1) is a member of the SET1 family of H3K4 methyltransferases and is frequently rearranged in acute leukemias. Despite sequence comparisons that predict that SET1 family enzymes should only monomethylate their substrates, mono-, di-, and trimethylation of H3K4 has been attributed to SET1 family complexes in vivo and in vitro. To better understand this paradox, we have biochemically reconstituted and characterized a five-component 200-kDa MLL1 core complex containing human MLL1, WDR5, RbBP5, Ash2L, and DPY-30. We demonstrate that the isolated MLL1 SET domain is a slow monomethyltransferase and that tyrosine 3942 of MLL1 prevents di- and trimethylation of H3K4. In contrast, a complex containing the MLL1 SET domain, WDR5, RbBP5, Ash2L, and DPY-30, displays a marked approximately 600-fold increase in enzymatic activity but only to the dimethyl form of H3K4. Single turnover kinetic experiments reveal that the reaction leading to H3K4 dimethylation involves the transient accumulation of a monomethylated species, suggesting that the MLL1 core complex uses a non-processive mechanism to catalyze multiple lysine methylation. We have also discovered that the non-SET domain components of the MLL1 core complex possess a previously unrecognized methyltransferase activity that catalyzes H3K4 dimethylation within the MLL1 core complex. Our results suggest that the mechanism of multiple lysine methylation by the MLL1 core complex involves the sequential addition of two methyl groups at two distinct active sites within the complex.
Project description:The mixed lineage leukemia-1 (MLL1) enzyme is a histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) monomethyltransferase and has served as a paradigm for understanding the mechanism of action of the human SET1 family of enzymes that include MLL1-MLL4 and SETd1a,b. Dimethylation of H3K4 requires a sub-complex including WRAD (WDR5, RbBP5, Ash2L, and DPY-30), which binds to each SET1 family member forming a minimal core complex that is required for multiple lysine methylation. We recently demonstrated that WRAD is a novel histone methyltransferase that preferentially catalyzes H3K4 dimethylation in a manner that is dependent on an unknown non-active-site surface from the MLL1 SET domain. Recent genome sequencing studies have identified a number of human disease-associated missense mutations that localize to the SET domains of several MLL family members. In this investigation, we mapped many of these mutations onto the three-dimensional structure of the SET domain and noticed that a subset of MLL2 (KMT2D, ALR, MLL4)-associated Kabuki syndrome missense mutations map to a common solvent-exposed surface that is not expected to alter enzymatic activity. We introduced these mutations into the MLL1 SET domain and observed that all are defective for H3K4 dimethylation by the MLL1 core complex, which is associated with a loss of the ability of MLL1 to interact with WRAD or with the RbBP5/Ash2L heterodimer. Our results suggest that amino acids from this surface, which we term the Kabuki interaction surface or KIS, are required for formation of a second active site within SET1 family core complexes.
Project description:Histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) is known to correlate with both active and poised genomic loci, yet many questions remain regarding its functional roles in vivo. We identify functional genomic targets of two H3K4 methyltransferases, Set1 and MLL1/2, in both the stem cells and differentiated tissue of the planarian flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea. We show that, despite their common substrate, these enzymes target distinct genomic loci in vivo, which are distinguishable by the pattern each enzyme leaves on the chromatin template, i.e., the breadth of the H3K4me3 peak. Whereas Set1 targets are largely associated with the maintenance of the stem cell population, MLL1/2 targets are specifically enriched for genes involved in ciliogenesis. These data not only confirm that chromatin regulation is fundamental to planarian stem cell function but also provide evidence for post-embryonic functional specificity of H3K4me3 methyltransferases in vivo.
Project description:Meningioma-1 (MN1) overexpression is frequently observed in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is predictive of poor prognosis. In murine models, forced expression of MN1 in hematopoietic progenitors induces an aggressive myeloid leukemia that is strictly dependent on a defined gene expression program in the cell of origin, which includes the homeobox genes Hoxa9 and Meis1 as key components. Here, we have shown that this program is controlled by two histone methyltransferases, MLL1 and DOT1L, as deletion of either Mll1 or Dot1l in MN1-expressing cells abrogated the cell of origin-derived gene expression program, including the expression of Hoxa cluster genes. In murine models, genetic inactivation of either Mll1 or Dot1l impaired MN1-mediated leukemogenesis. We determined that HOXA9 and MEIS1 are coexpressed with MN1 in a subset of clinical MN1hi leukemia, and human MN1hi/HOXA9hi leukemias were sensitive to pharmacologic inhibition of DOT1L. Together, these data point to DOT1L as a potential therapeutic target in MN1hi AML. In addition, our findings suggest that epigenetic modulation of the interplay between an oncogenic lesion and its cooperating developmental program has therapeutic potential in AML.
Project description:An experiment was performed to understand its role in cell type specification, we have determined the human genomic binding sites of MLL1. MLL1 localizes with Pol II to the 5' end of actively transcribed genes, where histone H3 lysine 4 (H3-K4) trimethylation occurs. The ability of MLL1 to serve as a start site-specific global transcriptional regulator and to participate in larger chromatin domains at the Hox genes reveals the dual roles MLL1 plays in maintenance of cellular identity.
Project description:MLL1 belongs to the SET1 family of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methyltransferases, composed of MLL1-4 and SETd1A/B. MLL1 translocations are present in acute leukemias, and mutations in several family members are associated with cancer and developmental disorders. MLL1 associates with a subcomplex containing WDR5, RbBP5, ASH2L, and DPY-30 (WRAD), forming the MLL1 core complex required for H3K4 mono- and dimethylation and transcriptional activation. Core complex assembly requires interaction of WDR5 with the MLL1 Win (WDR5 interaction) motif, which is conserved across the SET1 family. Agents that mimic the SET1 family Win motif inhibit the MLL1 core complex and have become an attractive approach for targeting MLL1 in cancers. Like MLL1, other SET1 family members interact with WRAD, but the roles of the Win motif in complex assembly and enzymatic activity remain unexplored. Here, we show that the Win motif is necessary for interaction of WDR5 with all members of the human SET1 family. Mutation of the Win motif-WDR5 interface severely disrupts assembly and activity of MLL1 and SETd1A complexes but only modestly disrupts MLL2/4 and SETd1B complexes without significantly altering enzymatic activity in vitro Notably, in the absence of WDR5, MLL3 interacts with RAD and shows enhanced activity. To further probe the role of the Win motif-WDR5 interaction, we designed a peptidomimetic that binds WDR5 (Kd ∼3 nm) and selectively inhibits activity of MLL1 and SETd1A core complexes within the SET1 family. Our results reveal that SET1 family complexes with the weakest Win motif-WDR5 interaction are more susceptible to Win motif-based inhibitors.
Project description:Development of retinal structure and function is controlled by cell type-specific transcription factors and widely expressed co-regulators. The latter includes the mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) family of histone methyltransferases that catalyze histone H3 lysine 4 di- and tri-methylation associated with gene activation. One such member, MLL1, is widely expressed in the central nervous system including the retina. However, its role in retinal development is unknown. To address this question, we knocked out Mll1 in mouse retinal progenitors, and discovered that MLL1 plays multiple roles in retinal development by regulating progenitor cell proliferation, cell type composition and neuron-glia balance, maintenance of horizontal neurons, and formation of functional synapses between neuronal layers required for visual signal transmission and processing. Altogether, our results suggest that MLL1 is indispensable for retinal neurogenesis and function development, providing a new paradigm for cell type-specific roles of known histone modifying enzymes during CNS tissue development.