An insertional mutagenesis screen identifies genes that cooperate with Mll-AF9 in a murine leukemogenesis model.
ABSTRACT: 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:All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is well established as differentiation therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in which the PML-RAR? (promyelocytic leukemia-retinoic acid receptor ?) fusion protein causes blockade of the retinoic acid (RA) pathway; however, in types of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) other than APL, the mechanism of RA pathway inactivation is not fully understood. This study revealed the potential mechanism of high ATRA sensitivity of mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL)-AF9-positive AML compared with MLL-AF4/5q31-positive AML. Treatment with ATRA induced significant myeloid differentiation accompanied by upregulation of RAR?, C/EBP?, C/EBP? and PU.1 in MLL-AF9-positive but not in MLL-AF4/5q31-positive cells. Combining ATRA with cytarabine had a synergistic antileukemic effect in MLL-AF9-positive cells in vitro. The level of dimethyl histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4me2) in the RAR? gene-promoter region, PU.1 upstream regulatory region (URE) and RUNX1+24/+25 intronic enhancer was higher in MLL-AF9-positive cells than in MLL-AF4-positive cells, and inhibiting lysine-specific demethylase 1, which acts as a histone demethylase inhibitor, reactivated ATRA sensitivity in MLL-AF4-positive cells. These findings suggest that the level of H3K4me2 in the RAR? gene-promoter region, PU.1 URE and RUNX1 intronic enhancer is determined by the MLL-fusion partner. Our findings provide insight into the mechanisms of ATRA sensitivity in AML and novel treatment strategies for ATRA-resistant AML.
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:The proto-oncogene EVI1 (ecotropic viral integration site-1), located on chromosome band 3q26, is aberrantly expressed in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with 3q26 rearrangements. In the current study, we showed, in a large AML cohort carrying 11q23 translocations, that ? 43% of all mixed lineage leukemia (MLL)-rearranged leukemias are EVI1(pos). High EVI1 expression occurs in AMLs expressing the MLL-AF6, -AF9, -AF10, -ENL, or -ELL fusion genes. In addition, we present evidence that EVI1(pos) MLL-rearranged AMLs differ molecularly, morphologically, and immunophenotypically from EVI1(neg) MLL-rearranged leukemias. In mouse bone marrow cells transduced with MLL-AF9, we show that MLL-AF9 fusion protein maintains Evi1 expression on transformation of Evi1(pos) HSCs. MLL-AF9 does not activate Evi1 expression in MLL-AF9-transformed granulocyte macrophage progenitors (GMPs) that were initially Evi1(neg). Moreover, shRNA-mediated knockdown of Evi1 in an Evi1(pos) MLL-AF9 mouse model inhibits leukemia growth both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that Evi1 provides a growth-promoting signal. Using the Evi1(pos) MLL-AF9 mouse leukemia model, we demonstrate increased sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents on reduction of Evi1 expression. We conclude that EVI1 is a critical player in tumor growth in a subset of MLL-rearranged AMLs.
Project description:Zinc finger protein 521 (ZNF521) is a multiple zinc finger transcription factor and a strong candidate as regulator of hematopoietic stem cell homeostasis. Recently, independent gene expression profile studies have evidenced a positive correlation between ZNF521 mRNA overexpression and MLL-rearranged acute myeloid leukemia (AML), leaving open the question on the role of ZNF521 in this subtype of leukemia. In this study, we sought to analyze the effect of ZNF521 depletion on MLL-rearranged AML cell lines and MLL-AF9 xenograft primary cells. Knockdown of ZNF521 with short-hairpin RNA (shRNA) led to decreased leukemia proliferation, reduced colony formation and caused cell cycle arrest in MLL-rearranged AML cell lines. Importantly, we showed that loss of ZNF521 substantially caused differentiation of both MLL-rearranged cell lines and primary cells. Moreover, gene profile analysis in ZNF521-silenced THP-1 cells revealed a loss of MLL-AF9-directed leukemic signature and an increase of the differentiation program. Finally, we determined that both MLL-AF9 and MLL-ENL fusion proteins directly interacted with ZNF521 promoter activating its transcription. In conclusion, our findings identify ZNF521 as a critical effector of MLL fusion proteins in blocking myeloid differentiation and highlight ZNF521 as a potential therapeutic target for this subtype of leukemia.
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.
Project description:Eradication of leukemia stem cells (LSCs) is the ultimate goal of treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We recently showed that the combined loss of Runx1/Cbfb inhibited the development of MLL-AF9-induced AML. However, c-Kit+/Gr-1- cells remained viable in Runx1/Cbfb-deleted cells, indicating that suppressing RUNX activity may not eradicate the most immature LSCs. In this study, we found upregulation of several hemostasis-related genes, including the thrombin-activatable receptor PAR-1 (protease-activated receptor-1), in Runx1/Cbfb-deleted MLL-AF9 cells. Similar to the effect of Runx1/Cbfb deletion, PAR-1 overexpression induced CDKN1A/p21 expression and attenuated proliferation in MLL-AF9 cells. To our surprise, PAR-1 deficiency also prevented leukemia development induced by a small number of MLL-AF9 leukemia stem cells (LSCs) in vivo. PAR-1 deficiency also reduced leukemogenicity of AML1-ETO-induced leukemia. Re-expression of PAR-1 in PAR-1-deficient cells combined with a limiting-dilution transplantation assay demonstrated the cell-dose-dependent role of PAR-1 in MLL-AF9 leukemia: PAR-1 inhibited rapid leukemic proliferation when there were a large number of LSCs, while a small number of LSCs required PAR-1 for their efficient growth. Mechanistically, PAR-1 increased the adherence properties of MLL-AF9 cells and promoted their engraftment to bone marrow. Taken together, these data revealed a multifaceted role for PAR-1 in leukemogenesis, and highlight this receptor as a potential target to eradicate primitive LSCs in AML.
Project description:In this study we explored the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) as mediators of leukemogenic effects of the fusion gene MLL-AF9, which results from a frequent chromosomal translocation in infant and monoblastic acute myeloid leukemia (AML).We performed a specific and efficient knockdown of endogenous MLL-AF9 in the human monoblastic AML cell line THP1.The knockdown associated miRNA expression profile revealed 21 MLL-AF9 dependently expressed miRNAs. Gene ontology analyses of target genes suggested an impact of these miRNAs on downstream gene regulation via targeting of transcriptional modulators as well as involvement in many functions important for leukemia maintenance as e.g. myeloid differentiation, cell cycle and stem cell maintenance. Furthermore, we identified one of the most intensely repressed miRNAs, miR-511, to raise CCL2 expression (a chemokine ligand important for immunosurveillance), directly target cyclin D1, inhibit cell cycle progression, increase cellular migration and promote monoblastic differentiation. With these effects, miR-511 may have a therapeutic potential as a pro-differentiation agent as well as in leukemia vaccination approaches.Our study provides new insights into the understanding of miRNAs as functional mediators of the leukemogenic fusion gene MLL-AF9 and opens new opportunities to further investigate specific therapeutic options for AML via the miRNA level.
Project description:PTPN11 encodes the Shp2 non-receptor protein-tyrosine phosphatase implicated in several signaling pathways. Activating mutations in Shp2 are commonly associated with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia but are not as well defined in other neoplasms. Here we report that Shp2 mutations occur in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at a rate of 6.6% (6/91) in the ECOG E1900 data set. We examined the role of mutated Shp2 in leukemias harboring MLL translocations, which co-occur in human AML. The hyperactive Shp2E76K mutant, commonly observed in leukemia patients, significantly accelerated MLL-AF9-mediated leukemogenesis in vivo. Shp2E76K increased leukemic stem cell frequency and affords MLL-AF9 leukemic cells IL3 cytokine hypersensitivity. As Shp2 is reported to regulate anti-apoptotic genes, we investigated Bcl2, Bcl-xL and Mcl1 expression in MLL-AF9 leukemic cells with and without Shp2E76K. Although the Bcl2 family of genes was upregulated in Shp2E76K cells, Mcl1 showed the highest upregulation in MLL-AF9 cells in response to Shp2E76K. Indeed, expression of Mcl1 in MLL-AF9 cells phenocopies expression of Shp2E76K, suggesting Shp2 mutations cooperate through activation of anti-apoptotic genes. Finally, we show Shp2E76K mutations reduce sensitivity of AML cells to small-molecule-mediated Mcl1 inhibition, suggesting reduced efficacy of drugs targeting MCL1 in patients with hyperactive Shp2.
Project description:As a central regulator of cell polarity, the activity of CDC42 GTPase is tightly controlled in maintaining normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSC/P) functions. We found that transformation of HSC/P to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is associated with increased CDC42 expression and activity in leukemia cells. In a mouse model of AML, the loss of Cdc42 abrogates MLL-AF9-induced AML development. Furthermore, genetic ablation of CDC42 in both murine and human MLL-AF9 (MA9) cells decreased survival and induced differentiation of the clonogenic leukemia-initiating cells. We show that MLL-AF9 leukemia cells maintain cell polarity in the context of elevated Cdc42-guanosine triphosphate activity, similar to nonmalignant, young HSC/Ps. The loss of Cdc42 resulted in a shift to depolarized AML cells that is associated with a decrease in the frequency of symmetric and asymmetric cell divisions producing daughter cells capable of self-renewal. Importantly, we demonstrate that inducible CDC42 suppression in primary human AML cells blocks leukemia progression in a xenograft model. Thus, CDC42 loss suppresses AML cell polarity and division asymmetry, and CDC42 constitutes a useful target to alter leukemia-initiating cell fate for differentiation therapy.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The translocation t(9;11)(p22;q23) leading to the leukemogenic fusion gene MLL-AF9 is a frequent translocation in infant acute myeloid leukemia (AML). This study aimed to identify genes and molecular processes downstream of MLL-AF9 (alias MLL-MLLT3) which could assist to develop new targeted therapies for such leukemia with unfavorable prognosis. METHODS: In the AML cell line THP1 which harbors this t(9;11) translocation, endogenous MLL-AF9 was silenced via siRNA while ensuring specificity of the knockdown and its efficiency on functional protein level. RESULTS: The differential gene expression profile was validated for leukemia-association by gene set enrichment analysis of published gene sets from patient studies and MLL-AF9 overexpression studies and revealed 425 differentially expressed genes. Gene ontology analysis was consistent with a more differentiated state of MLL-AF9 depleted cells, with involvement of a wide range of downstream transcriptional regulators and with defined functional processes such as ribosomal biogenesis, chaperone binding, calcium homeostasis and estrogen response. We prioritized 41 gene products as candidate targets including several novel and potentially druggable effectors of MLL-AF9 (AHR, ATP2B2, DRD5, HIPK2, PARP8, ROR2 and TAS1R3). Applying the antagonist SCH39166 against the dopamine receptor DRD5 resulted in reduced leukemic cell characteristics of THP1 cells. CONCLUSION: Besides potential new therapeutic targets, the described transcription profile shaped by MLL-AF9 provides an information source into the molecular processes altered in MLL aberrant leukemia.