MLL-AF9-induced leukemogenesis requires coexpression of the wild-type Mll allele.
ABSTRACT: Oncogenic fusion proteins are capable of initiating tumorigenesis, but the role of their wild-type counterparts in this process is poorly understood. The mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene undergoes chromosomal translocations, resulting in the formation of oncogenic MLL fusion proteins (MLL-FPs). Here, we show that menin recruits both wild-type MLL and oncogenic MLL-AF9 fusion protein to the loci of HOX genes to activate their transcription. Wild-type MLL not only catalyzes histone methylation at key target genes but also controls distinct MLL-AF9-induced histone methylation. Notably, the wild-type Mll allele is required for MLL-AF9-induced leukemogenesis and maintenance of MLL-AF9-transformed cells. These findings suggest an essential cooperation between an oncogene and its wild-type counterpart in MLL-AF9-induced leukemogenesis.
Project description:Chromosomal translocations of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene are a common cause of acute leukemias. The oncogenic function of MLL fusion proteins is, in part, mediated through aberrant activation of Hoxa genes and Meis1, among others. Here we demonstrate using a tamoxifen-inducible Cre-mediated loss of function mouse model that DOT1L, an H3K79 methyltransferase, is required for both initiation and maintenance of MLL-AF9-induced leukemogenesis in vitro and in vivo. Through gene expression and chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis we demonstrate that mistargeting of DOT1L, subsequent H3K79 methylation, and up-regulation of Hoxa and Meis1 genes underlie the molecular mechanism of how DOT1L contributes to MLL-AF9-mediated leukemogenesis. Our study not only provides the first in vivo evidence for the function of DOT1L in leukemia, but also reveals the molecular mechanism for DOT1L in MLL-AF9 mediated leukemia. Thus, DOT1L may serve as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of leukemia caused by MLL translocations.
Project description:Chromosomal translocations involving the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene lead to the development of acute leukemias. Constitutive HOX gene activation by MLL fusion proteins is required for MLL-mediated leukemogenesis; however, the underlying mechanisms remain elusive. Here, we show that chromobox homolog 8 (CBX8), a Polycomb Group protein that interacts with MLL-AF9 and TIP60, is required for MLL-AF9-induced transcriptional activation and leukemogenesis. Conversely, both CBX8 ablation and specific disruption of the CBX8 interaction by point mutations in MLL-AF9 abrogate HOX gene upregulation and abolish MLL-AF9 leukemic transformation. Surprisingly, Cbx8-deficient mice are viable and display no apparent hematopoietic defects. Together, our findings demonstrate that CBX8 plays an essential role in MLL-AF9 transcriptional regulation and leukemogenesis.
Project description:Patients with a t(9;11) translocation (MLL-AF9) develop acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and while in mice the expression of this fusion oncogene also results in the development of myeloid leukemia, it is with long latency. To identify mutations that cooperate with Mll-AF9, we infected neonatal wild-type (WT) or Mll-AF9 mice with a murine leukemia virus (MuLV). MuLV-infected Mll-AF9 mice succumbed to disease significantly faster than controls presenting predominantly with myeloid leukemia while infected WT animals developed predominantly lymphoid leukemia. We identified 88 candidate cancer genes near common sites of proviral insertion. Analysis of transcript levels revealed significantly elevated expression of Mn1, and a trend toward increased expression of Bcl11a and Fosb in Mll-AF9 murine leukemia samples with proviral insertions proximal to these genes. Accordingly, FOSB and BCL11A were also overexpressed in human AML harboring MLL gene translocations. FOSB was revealed to be essential for growth in mouse and human myeloid leukemia cells using shRNA lentiviral vectors in vitro. Importantly, MN1 cooperated with Mll-AF9 in leukemogenesis in an in vivo BM viral transduction and transplantation assay. Together, our data identified genes that define transcription factor networks and important genetic pathways acting during progression of leukemia induced by MLL fusion oncogenes.
Project description:Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) is a chromatin regulator with central roles in development and cancer. The canonical function of PRC2 is the trimethylation of histone 3 on lysine residue 27. This epigenetic modification is associated with gene silencing. Both tumor suppressor and oncogenic functions have been reported for PRC2, depending on cellular context. In leukemia mediated by the leukemogenic fusion MLL-AF9, complete ablation of canonical PRC2 function by genetic inactivation of the core component embryonic ectoderm development (Eed) or by combined pharmacologic inhibition of the PRC2 methyltransferases EZH2 and EZH1 has a strong anti-leukemic effect, and this effect has been linked to de-repression of the PRC2 target locus Cdkn2a. We asked whether inactivation of Cdkn2a is sufficient to restore leukemic activity of Eed-inactivated MLL-AF9 leukemia cells, using combined genetic inactivation of Cdkn2a and Eed. We found that Cdkn2a inactivation partially rescues in vitro and in vivo growth of Eed-inactivated MLL-AF9 cells. However, the growth of Eed-null Cdkn2a-null MLL-AF9 cells in the absence of Cdkn2a remained severely compromised in vitro and in vivo, compared with that of their Eed-floxed Cdkn2a-null counterparts. RNA sequencing analysis revealed that several genes previously implicated in inefficient growth of MLL-AF9-transformed cells, including Gata2, Egr1, and Cdkn2b were de-repressed as a consequence of Eed inactivation. Furthermore, we found that direct binding targets of MLL fusion proteins are negatively enriched in Eed-inactivated Cdkn2a-null MLL-AF9-transformed cells. Our data indicate that interference with PRC2 function affects MLL-AF9-mediated leukemogenesis by both Cdkn2a-dependent and Cdkn2a-independent mechanisms.
Project description:The 'Yamanaka factors' (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc) are able to generate induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from different cell types. However, to what degree primary malignant cells can be reprogrammed into a pluripotent state has not been vigorously assessed. We established an acute myeloid leukemia (AML) model by overexpressing the human mixed-lineage leukemia-AF9 (MLL-AF9) fusion gene in mouse hematopoietic cells that carry Yamanaka factors under the control of doxycycline (Dox). On addition of Dox to the culture, the transplantable leukemia cells were efficiently converted into iPS cells that could form teratomas and produce chimeras. Interestingly, most chimeric mice spontaneously developed the same type of AML. Moreover, both iPS reprogramming and leukemia reinitiation paths could descend from the same leukemia-initiating cell. RNA-seq analysis showed reversible global gene expression patterns between these interchangeable leukemia and iPS cells on activation or reactivation of MLL-AF9, suggesting a sufficient epigenetic force in driving the leukemogenic process. This study represents an important step for further defining the potential interplay between oncogenic molecules and reprogramming factors during MLL leukemogenesis. More importantly, our reprogramming approach may be expanded to characterize a range of hematopoietic malignancies in order to develop new strategies for clinical diagnosis and treatment.
Project description:Rearrangement of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL; also known as lysine methyltransferase 2A) gene is a recurrent genomic aberration in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). MLLT3, super elongation complex subunit (AF9) is one of the most common MLL fusion partners in AML. The present study aimed to explore the aberrant expression of genes associated with the MLL?AF9 translocation and identified potential new targets for the therapy of AML with MLL?AF9 translocation. The transcriptomic and epigenetic datasets were downloaded from National Center of Biotechnology Information Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. Differentially expressed genes were obtained from two independent datasets (GSE68643 and GSE73457). Gene Ontology biological process and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway enrichment analysis was performed using the Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery. MLL?AF9?associated chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP?Seq) data was analyzed and identified binding sites for MLL?AF9 and wild type MLL (MLL WT). The ChIP?Seq of histone modification data was downloaded from the GEO database, including histone 3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3), histone 3 lysine 79 dimethylation (H3K79me2) and histone 3 lysine 27 acetylation (H3K27ac), was used for comparing histone modification marks between the MLL?AF9 leukemia cells and normal hematopoietic cells at MLL?AF9 and MLL WT binding sites. The differentially expressed genes with the same trend in H3K79me2, H3K27ac and H3K4me3 alteration were identified as potential MLL?AF9 direct target genes. Upon validation using RNA?Seq data from the Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments AML project, eight potential direct target genes of MLL?AF9 were identified and further confirmed in MLL?AF9 mouse model using reverse transcription?quantitative polymerase chain reaction. These genes may have a critical role in AML with MLL?AF9 translocation.
Project description:MLL is a target of chromosomal translocations in acute leukemias with poor prognosis. The common MLL fusion partner AF9 (MLLT3) can directly bind to AF4, DOT1L, BCOR, and CBX8. To delineate the relevance of BCOR and CBX8 binding to MLL-AF9 for leukemogenesis, here we determine protein structures of AF9 complexes with CBX8 and BCOR, and show that binding of all four partners to AF9 is mutually exclusive. Using the structural analyses, we identify point mutations that selectively disrupt AF9 interactions with BCOR and CBX8. In bone marrow stem/progenitor cells expressing point mutant CBX8 or point mutant MLL-AF9, we show that disruption of direct CBX8/MLL-AF9 binding does not impact in vitro cell proliferation, whereas loss of direct BCOR/MLL-AF9 binding causes partial differentiation and increased proliferation. Strikingly, loss of MLL-AF9/BCOR binding abrogated its leukemogenic potential in a mouse model. The MLL-AF9 mutant deficient for BCOR binding reduces the expression of the EYA1 phosphatase and the protein level of c-Myc. Reduction in BCOR binding to MLL-AF9 alters a MYC-driven gene expression program, as well as altering expression of SIX-regulated genes, likely contributing to the observed reduction in the leukemia-initiating cell population.
Project description:MLL-fusion proteins, AF9 and ENL, play an essential role in the recruitment of DOT1L and the H3K79 hypermethylation of MLL target genes, which is pivotal for leukemogenesis. Blocking these interactions may represent a novel therapeutic approach for MLL-rearranged leukemia. Based on the 7 mer DOT1L peptide, a class of peptidomimetics was designed. Compound 21 with modified middle residues, achieved significantly improved binding affinities to AF9 and ENL, with KD values of 15 nM and 57 nM, respectively. Importantly, 21 recognizes and binds to the cellular AF9 protein and effectively inhibits the AF9-DOT1L interactions in cells. Modifications of the N- and C-termini of 21 resulted in 28 with 2-fold improved binding affinity to AF9 and much decreased peptidic characteristics. Our study provides a proof-of-concept for development of nonpeptidic compounds to inhibit DOT1L activity by targeting its recruitment and the interactions between DOT1L and MLL-oncofusion proteins AF9 and ENL.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Chromosomal translocation-induced expression of the chromatin modifying oncofusion protein MLL-AF9 promotes acute myelocytic leukemia (AML). Whereas WNT/?-catenin signaling has previously been shown to support MLL-AF9-driven leukemogenesis, the mechanism underlying this relationship remains unclear. METHODS:We used two novel small molecules targeting WNT signaling as well as a genetically modified mouse model that allow targeted deletion of the WNT protein chaperone Wntless (WLS) to evaluate the role of WNT signaling in AML progression. ATAC-seq and transcriptome profiling were deployed to understand the cellular consequences of disrupting a WNT signaling in leukemic initiating cells (LICs). FINDINGS:We identified Six1 to be a WNT-controlled target gene in MLL-AF9-transformed leukemic initiating cells (LICs). MLL-AF9 alters the accessibility of Six1 DNA to the transcriptional effector TCF7L2, a transducer of WNT/?-catenin gene expression changes. Disruption of WNT/SIX1 signaling using inhibitors of the Wnt signaling delays the development of AML. INTERPRETATION:By rendering TCF/LEF-binding elements controlling Six1 accessible to TCF7L2, MLL-AF9 promotes WNT/?-catenin-dependent growth of LICs. Small molecules disrupting WNT/?-catenin signaling block Six1 expression thereby disrupting leukemia driven by MLL fusion proteins.