Human Polymerase-Associated Factor complex (PAFc) connects the Super Elongation Complex (SEC) to RNA polymerase II on chromatin.
ABSTRACT: The Super Elongation Complex (SEC), containing transcription elongation activators/coactivators P-TEFb, ELL2, AFF4/1, ENL, and AF9, is recruited by HIV-1 Tat and mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) proteins to activate the expression of HIV-1 and MLL-target genes, respectively. In the absence of Tat and MLL, however, it is unclear how SEC is targeted to RNA polymerase (Pol) II to stimulate elongation in general. Furthermore, although ENL and AF9 can bind the H3K79 methyltransferase Dot1L, it is unclear whether these bindings are required for SEC-mediated transcription. Here, we show that the homologous ENL and AF9 exist in separate SECs with similar but nonidentical functions. ENL/AF9 contacts the scaffolding protein AFF4 that uses separate domains to recruit different subunits into SEC. ENL/AF9 also exists outside SEC when bound to Dot1L, which is found to inhibit SEC function. The YEATS domain of ENL/AF9 targets SEC to Pol II on chromatin through contacting the human Polymerase-Associated Factor complex (PAFc) complex. This finding explains the YEATS domain's dispensability for leukemogenesis when ENL/AF9 is translocated to MLL, whose interactions with PAFc and DNA likely substitute for the PAFc/chromatin-targeting function of the YEATS domain.
Project description:Chromosome translocations involving mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene cause acute leukemia with a poor prognosis. MLL is frequently fused with transcription cofactors AF4 (~35%), AF9 (25%) or its paralog ENL (10%). The AHD domain of AF9/ENL binds to AF4, its paralog AFF4, or histone-H3 lysine-79 (H3K79) methyltransferase DOT1L. Formation of AF9/ENL/AF4/AFF4-containing super elongation complexes (SEC) and the catalytic activity of DOT1L are essential for MLL-rearranged leukemia. Protein-protein interactions (PPI) between AF9/ENL and DOT1L/AF4/AFF4 are therefore a potential drug target. <b>Methods</b>: Compound screening followed by medicinal chemistry was used to find inhibitors of such PPIs, which were examined for their biological activities against MLL-rearranged leukemia and other cancer cells. <b>Results</b>: Compound-<b>1</b> was identified to be a novel small-molecule inhibitor of the AF9/ENL-DOT1L/AF4/AFF4 interaction with IC50s of 0.9-3.5 µM. Pharmacological inhibition of the PPIs significantly reduced SEC and DOT1L-mediated H3K79 methylation in the leukemia cells. Gene profiling shows compound-<b>1</b> significantly suppressed the gene signatures related to onco-MLL, DOT1L, HoxA9 and Myc. It selectively inhibited proliferation of onco-MLL- or Myc-driven cancer cells and induced cell differentiation and apoptosis. Compound-<b>1</b> exhibited strong antitumor activity in a mouse model of MLL-rearranged leukemia. <b>Conclusions:</b> The AF9/ENL-DOT1L/AF4/AFF4 interactions are validated to be an anticancer target and compound-<b>1</b> is a useful in vivo probe for biological studies as well as a pharmacological lead for further drug development.
Project description:HIV-1 transactivator Tat has greatly contributed to our understanding of transcription elongation by RNAPII. We purified HIV-1 Tat-associated factors from HeLa nuclear extract and show that Tat forms two distinct and stable complexes. Tatcom1 consists of the core active P-TEFb, MLL-fusion partners involved in leukemia (AF9, AFF4, AFF1, ENL, and ELL), and PAF1 complex. Importantly, Tatcom1 formation relies on P-TEFb while optimal CDK9 CTD-kinase activity is AF9 dependent. MLL-fusion partners and PAF1 are required for Tat transactivation. Tatcom2 is composed of CDK9, CycT1, and 7SK snRNP lacking HEXIM. Tat remodels 7SK snRNP by interacting directly with 7SK RNA, leading to the formation of a stress-resistant 7SK snRNP particle. Besides the identification of factors required for Tat transactivation and important for P-TEFb function, our data show a coordinated control of RNAPII elongation by different classes of transcription elongation factors associated in a single complex and acting at the same promoter.
Project description:Formation of AF9/ENL/AF4/AFF4-containing super elongation complexes (SEC) and catalytic activity of DOT1L are required for MLL-rearranged leukemia. We evaluated gene expression changes after inhibition of AHD in leukemia cells.
Project description:The MLL fusion proteins, AF9 and ENL, activate target genes in part via recruitment of the histone methyltransferase DOT1L (disruptor of telomeric silencing 1-like). Here we report biochemical, biophysical, and functional characterization of the interaction between DOT1L and MLL fusion proteins, AF9/ENL. The AF9/ENL-binding site in human DOT1L was mapped, and the interaction site was identified to a 10-amino acid region (DOT1L865-874). This region is highly conserved in DOT1L from a variety of species. Alanine scanning mutagenesis analysis shows that four conserved hydrophobic residues from the identified binding motif are essential for the interactions with AF9/ENL. Binding studies demonstrate that the entire intact C-terminal domain of AF9/ENL is required for optimal interaction with DOT1L. Functional studies show that the mapped AF9/ENL interacting site is essential for immortalization by MLL-AF9, indicating that DOT1L interaction with MLL-AF9 and its recruitment are required for transformation by MLL-AF9. These results strongly suggest that disruption of interaction between DOT1L and AF9/ENL is a promising therapeutic strategy with potentially fewer adverse effects than enzymatic inhibition of DOT1L for MLL fusion protein-associated leukemia.
Project description:Chemical probes of epigenetic 'readers' of histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) have become powerful tools for mechanistic and functional studies of their target proteins in normal physiology and disease pathogenesis. Here we report the development of the first class of chemical probes of YEATS domains, newly identified 'readers' of histone lysine acetylation (Kac) and crotonylation (Kcr). Guided by the structural analysis of a YEATS-Kcr complex, we developed a series of peptide-based inhibitors of YEATS domains by targeting a unique ?-?-? stacking interaction at the proteins' Kcr recognition site. Further structure optimization resulted in the selective inhibitors preferentially binding to individual YEATS-containing proteins including AF9 and ENL with submicromolar affinities. We demonstrate that one of the ENL YEATS-selective inhibitors, XL-13m, engages with endogenous ENL, perturbs the recruitment of ENL onto chromatin, and synergizes the BET and DOT1L inhibition-induced downregulation of oncogenes in MLL-rearranged acute leukemia.
Project description:The HIV-1 Tat protein stimulates viral gene expression by recruiting human transcription elongation complexes containing P-TEFb, AFF4, ELL2, and ENL or AF9 to the viral promoter, but the molecular organization of these complexes remains unknown. To establish the overall architecture of the HIV-1 Tat elongation complex, we mapped the binding sites that mediate complex assembly in vitro and in vivo. The AFF4 protein emerges as the central scaffold that recruits other factors through direct interactions with short hydrophobic regions along its structurally disordered axis. Direct binding partners CycT1, ELL2, and ENL or AF9 act as bridging components that link this complex to two major elongation factors, P-TEFb and the PAF complex. The unique scaffolding properties of AFF4 allow dynamic and flexible assembly of multiple elongation factors and connect the components not only to each other but also to a larger network of transcriptional regulators.
Project description:Early work on the control of transcription of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) laid the foundation for our current knowledge of how RNA Polymerase II is released from promoter-proximal pausing sites and transcription elongation is enhanced. The viral Tat activator recruits Positive Transcription Elongation Factor b (P-TEFb) and Super Elongation Complex (SEC) that jointly drive transcription elongation. While substantial progress in understanding the role of SEC in HIV gene transcription elongation has been obtained, defining of the mechanisms that govern SEC functions is still limited, and the role of SEC in controlling HIV transcription in the absence of Tat is less clear. Here we revisit the contribution of SEC in early steps of HIV gene transcription. In the absence of Tat, the AF4/FMR2 Family member 4 (AFF4) of SEC efficiently activates HIV transcription, while gene activation by its homolog AFF1 is substantially lower. Differential recruitment to the HIV promoter and association with Human Polymerase-Associated Factor complex (PAFc) play key role in this functional distinction between AFF4 and AFF1. Moreover, while depletion of cyclin T1 expression has subtle effects on HIV gene transcription in the absence of Tat, knockout (KO) of AFF1, AFF4, or both proteins slightly repress this early step of viral transcription. Upon Tat expression, HIV transcription reaches optimal levels despite KO of AFF1 or AFF4 expression. However, double AFF1/AFF4 KO completely diminishes Tat trans-activation. Significantly, our results show that P-TEFb phosphorylates AFF4 and modulates SEC assembly, AFF1/4 dimerization and recruitment to the viral promoter. We conclude that SEC promotes both early steps of HIV transcription in the absence of Tat, as well as elongation of transcription, when Tat is expressed. Significantly, SEC functions are modulated by P-TEFb.
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:Recruitment of the P-TEFb kinase by HIV-1 Tat to the viral promoter triggers the phosphorylation and escape of RNA polymerase II from promoter-proximal pausing. It is unclear, however, if Tat recruits additional host factors that further stimulate HIV-1 transcription. Using a sequential affinity-purification scheme, we have identified human transcription factors/coactivators AFF4, ENL, AF9, and elongation factor ELL2 as components of the Tat-P-TEFb complex. Through the bridging functions of Tat and AFF4, P-TEFb and ELL2 combine to form a bifunctional elongation complex that greatly activates HIV-1 transcription. Without Tat, AFF4 can mediate the ELL2-P-TEFb interaction, albeit inefficiently. Tat overcomes this limitation by bringing more ELL2 to P-TEFb and stabilizing ELL2 in a process that requires active P-TEFb. The ability of Tat to enable two different classes of elongation factors to cooperate and coordinate their actions on the same polymerase enzyme explains why Tat is such a powerful activator of HIV-1 transcription.
Project description:The elongation stage of transcription is a highly regulated in metazoan. We previously purified the AFF1/AFF4-containing Super Elongation Complex (SEC) as a major regulator of development and cancer pathogenesis. Here, we report the biochemical isolation of SEC-like 2 (SEC-L2) and SEC-like 3 (SEC-L3) containing AFF2 and AFF3 in association with P-TEFb, ENL, and AF9. The SEC family members demonstrate high levels of Pol II CTD kinase activity, however, only SEC is required for the proper induction of the HSP70 gene upon stress. Genome-wide mRNA-seq analyses demonstrate that SEC-L2-3 control the expression of different subsets of genes, while AFF4/SEC plays a more dominant role in rapid gene expression in cells. MYC is one of the direct targets of AFF4/SEC, and the SEC requirement to the MYC gene regulates its expression in different cancer cells bearing either acute myeloid or lymphoid leukemia. These findings suggest that AFF4/SEC could be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of leukemia or other cancers associated with MYC overexpression. RNA-seq in human embyonic kidney 293T cells of wild-type and after RNAi of AFF2, AFF3, AFF4. ChIP-seq of AFF4 and Pol2 in human 293T cells.