Function of leukemogenic mixed lineage leukemia 1 (MLL) fusion proteins through distinct partner protein complexes.
ABSTRACT: A number of acute leukemias arise from fusion of the mixed lineage leukemia 1 protein (MLL) N terminus to a variety of fusion partners that have been reported to reside in one or more poorly defined complexes linked to transcription elongation through interactions with the histone H3-K79 methyltransferase DOT1 and positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb). Here we first identify natural complexes (purified through fusion partners AF9, AF4, and ELL) with overlapping components, different elongation activities, and different cofactor associations that suggest dynamic interactions. Then, through reconstitution of defined, functionally active minimal complexes, we identify stable subcomplexes that, through newly defined protein-protein interactions, form distinct higher order complexes. These definitive analyses show, for example, that (i) through direct interactions with AF9 and cyclinT1, family members AF4 and AFF4 independently mediate association of P-TEFb with AF9, (ii) P-TEFb, through direct interactions, provides the link for association of ELL and ELL-associated factors 1 and 2 (EAF1 and EAF2) with AF4, and (iii) in the absence of other factors, DOT1 forms a stable complex with AF9 and does not interact with AF9•AF4•P-TEFb complexes. Finally, we show the importance of defined higher order complex formation in MLL-AF9-mediated transcriptional up-regulation and cell immortalization potential in vivo. Thus, our study provides direct mechanistic insight into the role of fusion partners in MLL fusion-mediated leukemogenesis.
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:The aim of this study was to better understand how mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) fusion proteins deregulate the expression of genes critical for leukemia.The transforming domain of one of the most common MLL fusion partners, AF9, was immunopurified after expression in myeloblastic M1 cells, and associating proteins were identified by mass spectrometric analysis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to determine how binding of associating proteins compare across Hoxa9 and Meis1 in cell lines with and without MLL fusion proteins and how binding is altered during gene down-regulation and differentiation.Consistent with earlier purifications of ENL and AF4 from 293 cells, the 90 amino acid C-terminal domain of AF9 associates with many other MLL translocation partners including Enl, Af4, Laf4, Af5q31, Ell, and Af10. This complex, termed elongation assisting proteins (EAPs), also contains the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain kinase Cdk9/Cyclin T1/T2 (pTEFb) and the histone H3 lysine 79 methyltransferase Dot1L. Myeloid cells transformed by MLL fusions show higher levels and a broader distribution of EAP components at genes critical for leukemia. Inhibition of EAP components pTEFb and Dot1l show that both contribute significantly to activation of Hoxa9 and Meis1 expression. EAP is dynamically associated with the Hoxa9 and Meis1 loci in hematopoietic cells and rapidly dissociates during induction of differentiation. In the presence of MLL fusion proteins, its dissociation is prevented.The findings suggest that MLL fusion proteins deregulate genes critical for leukemia by excessive recruitment and impaired dissociation of EAP from target loci.
Project description:The eleven-nineteen leukemia (ENL) protein family, composed of ENL and AF9, is a common component of 3 transcriptional modulators: AF4-ENL-P-TEFb complex (AEP), DOT1L-AF10-ENL complex (referred to as the DOT1L complex) and polycomb-repressive complex 1 (PRC1). Each complex associates with chromatin via distinct mechanisms, conferring different transcriptional properties including activation, maintenance, and repression. The mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene often fuses with ENL and AF10 family genes in leukemia. However, the functional interrelationship among those 3 complexes in leukemic transformation remains largely elusive. Here, we have shown that MLL-ENL and MLL-AF10 constitutively activate transcription by aberrantly inducing both AEP-dependent transcriptional activation and DOT1L-dependent transcriptional maintenance, mostly in the absence of PRC1, to fully transform hematopoietic progenitors. These results reveal a cooperative transcriptional activation mechanism of AEP and DOT1L and suggest a molecular rationale for the simultaneous inhibition of the MLL fusion-AF4 complex and DOT1L for more effective treatment of MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Project description:Gene rearrangement of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene causes leukemia by inducing the constitutive expression of a gene subset normally expressed only in the immature haematopoietic progenitor cells. MLL gene rearrangements often generate fusion products of MLL and a component of the AF4 family/ENL family/P-TEFb (AEP) complex. MLL-AEP fusion proteins have the potential of constitutively recruiting the P-TEFb elongation complex. Thus, it is hypothesized that relieving the promoter proximal pausing of RNA polymerase II is the rate-limiting step of MLL fusion-dependent transcription. AEP also has the potential to recruit the mediator complex via MED26. We recently showed that AEP activates transcription initiation by facilitating TBP loading to the TATA element through the SL1 complex. In the present study, we show that the key activity responsible for the oncogenic property of MLL-AEP fusion proteins is the TBP loading activity, and not the mediator recruitment or transcriptional elongation activities. Thus, we propose that TBP loading by AF4 through SL1 is the major rate-limiting step in MLL fusion-dependent transcription.
Project description:Chimeric oncoproteins resulting from fusion of MLL to a wide variety of partnering proteins cause biologically distinctive and clinically aggressive acute leukemias. However, the mechanism of MLL-mediated leukemic transformation is not fully understood. Dot1, the only known histone H3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase, has been shown to interact with multiple MLL fusion partners including AF9, ENL, AF10, and AF17. In this study, we utilize a conditional Dot1l deletion model to investigate the role of Dot1 in hematopoietic progenitor cell immortalization by MLL fusion proteins. Western blot and mass spectrometry show that Dot1-deficient cells are depleted of the global H3K79 methylation mark. We find that loss of Dot1 activity attenuates cell viability and colony formation potential of cells immortalized by MLL oncoproteins but not by the leukemic oncoprotein E2a-Pbx1. Although this effect is most pronounced for MLL-AF9, we find that Dot1 contributes to the viability of cells immortalized by other MLL oncoproteins that are not known to directly recruit Dot1. Cells immortalized by MLL fusions also show increased apoptosis, suggesting the involvement of Dot1 in survival pathways. In summary, our data point to a pivotal requirement for Dot1 in MLL fusion protein-mediated leukemogenesis and implicate Dot1 as a potential therapeutic target.
Project description:The 2 most frequent human MLL hematopoietic malignancies involve either AF4 or AF9 as fusion partners; each has distinct biology but the role of the fusion partner is not clear. We produced Mll-AF4 knock-in (KI) mice by homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells and compared them with Mll-AF9 KI mice. Young Mll-AF4 mice had lymphoid and myeloid deregulation manifest by increased lymphoid and myeloid cells in hematopoietic organs. In vitro, bone marrow cells from young mice formed unique mixed pro-B lymphoid (B220(+)CD19(+)CD43(+)sIgM(-), PAX5(+), TdT(+), IgH rearranged)/myeloid (CD11b/Mac1(+), c-fms(+), lysozyme(+)) colonies when grown in IL-7- and Flt3 ligand-containing media. Mixed lymphoid/myeloid hyperplasia and hematologic malignancies (most frequently B-cell lymphomas) developed in Mll-AF4 mice after prolonged latency; long latency to malignancy indicates that Mll-AF4-induced lymphoid/myeloid deregulation alone is insufficient to produce malignancy. In contrast, young Mll-AF9 mice had predominately myeloid deregulation in vivo and in vitro and developed myeloid malignancies. The early onset of distinct mixed lymphoid/myeloid lineage deregulation in Mll-AF4 mice shows evidence for both "instructive" and "noninstructive" roles for AF4 and AF9 as partners in MLL fusion genes. The molecular basis for "instruction" and secondary cooperating mutations can now be studied in our Mll-AF4 model.
Project description:AF4 and ENL family proteins are frequently fused with MLL, and they comprise a higher order complex (designated AEP) containing the P-TEFb transcription elongation factor. Here, we show that AEP is normally recruited to MLL-target chromatin to facilitate transcription. In contrast, MLL oncoproteins fused with AEP components constitutively form MLL/AEP hybrid complexes to cause sustained target gene expression, which leads to transformation of hematopoietic progenitors. Furthermore, MLL-AF6, an MLL fusion with a cytoplasmic protein, does not form such hybrid complexes, but nevertheless constitutively recruits AEP to target chromatin via unknown alternative mechanisms. Thus, AEP recruitment is an integral part of both physiological and pathological MLL-dependent transcriptional pathways. Bypass of its normal recruitment mechanisms is the strategy most frequently used by MLL oncoproteins.
Project description:Mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) fusion proteins cause oncogenic transformation of hematopoietic cells by constitutive recruitment of elongation factors to HOX promoters, resulting in overexpression of target genes. The structural basis of transactivation by MLL fusion partners remains undetermined. We show that the ANC1 homology domain (AHD) of AF9, one of the most common MLL translocation partners, is intrinsically disordered and recruits multiple transcription factors through coupled folding and binding. We determined the structure of the AF9 AHD in complex with the elongation factor AF4 and show that aliphatic residues, which are conserved in each of the AF9 binding partners, form an integral part of the hydrophobic core of the complex. Nuclear magnetic resonance relaxation measurements show that AF9 retains significant dynamic behavior which may facilitate exchange between disordered partners. We propose that AF9 functions as a signaling hub that regulates transcription through dynamic recruitment of cofactors in normal hematopoiesis and in acute leukemia.
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:Chromosome rearrangements involving the mixed-lineage leukemia gene (MLL) create MLL-fusion proteins, which could drive both acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The lineage decision of MLL-fusion leukemia is influenced by the fusion partner and microenvironment. To investigate the interplay of fusion proteins and microenvironment in lineage choice, we transplanted human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) expressing MLL-AF9 or MLL-Af4 into immunodeficient NSGS mice, which strongly promote myeloid development. Cells expressing MLL-AF9 efficiently developed AML in NSGS mice. In contrast, MLL-Af4 cells, which were fully oncogenic under lymphoid conditions present in NSG mice, displayed compromised transformation capacity in a myeloid microenvironment. MLL-Af4 activated a self-renewal program in a lineage-dependent manner, showing the leukemogenic activity of MLL-Af4 was interlinked with lymphoid lineage commitment. The C-terminal homology domain (CHD) of Af4 was sufficient to confer this linkage. Although the MLL-CHD fusion protein failed to immortalize HSPCs in myeloid conditions in vitro, it could successfully induce ALL in NSG mice. Our data suggest that defective self-renewal ability and leukemogenesis of MLL-Af4 myeloid cells could contribute to the strong B-cell ALL association of MLL-AF4 leukemia observed in the clinic.