DOT1L inhibition sensitizes MLL-rearranged AML to chemotherapy.
ABSTRACT: DOT1L, the only known histone H3-lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase, has been shown to be essential for the survival and proliferation of mixed-linkage leukemia (MLL) gene rearranged leukemia cells, which are often resistant to conventional chemotherapeutic agents. To study the functions of DOT1L in MLL-rearranged leukemia, SYC-522, a potent inhibitor of DOT1L developed in our laboratory, was used to treat MLL-rearranged leukemia cell lines and patient samples. SYC-522 significantly inhibited methylation at H3K79, but not H3K4 or H3K27, and decreased the expression of two important leukemia-relevant genes, HOXA9 and MEIS1, by more than 50%. It also significantly reduced the expression of CCND1 and BCL2L1, which are important regulators of cell cycle and anti-apoptotic signaling pathways. Exposure of MLL-rearranged leukemia cells to this compound caused cell cycle arrest and promoted differentiation of those cells, both morphologically and by increased CD14 expression. SYC-522 did not induce apoptosis, even at 10 µM for as long as 6 days. However, treatment with this DOT1L inhibitor decreased the colony formation ability of primary MLL-rearranged AML cells by up to 50%, and promoted monocytic differentiation. Notably, SYC-522 treatment significantly increased the sensitivity of MLL-rearranged leukemia cells to chemotherapeutics, such as mitoxantrone, etoposide and cytarabine. A similar sensitization was seen with primary MLL-rearranged AML cells. SYC-522 did not affect chemotherapy-induced apoptosis in leukemia cells without MLL-rearrangement. Suppression of DOT1L activity inhibited the mitoxantrone-induced increase in the DNA damage response marker, ?H2AX, and increased the level of cPARP, an intracellular marker of apoptosis. These results demonstrated that SYC-522 selectively inhibited DOT1L, and thereby altered gene expression, promoted differentiation, and increased chemosensitivity by preventing DNA damage response. Therefore, inhibition of DOT1L, in combination with DNA damaging chemotherapy, represents a promising approach to improving outcomes for MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Project description:Mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) fusions are potent oncogenes that initiate aggressive forms of acute leukemia. As aberrant transcriptional regulators, MLL-fusion proteins alter gene expression in hematopoietic cells through interactions with the histone H3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase DOT1L. Notably, interference with MLL-fusion cofactors like DOT1L is an emerging therapeutic strategy in this disease. Here, we identify the histone H2B E3 ubiquitin ligase ring finger protein 20 (RNF20) as an additional chromatin regulator that is necessary for MLL-fusion-mediated leukemogenesis. Suppressing the expression of Rnf20 in diverse models of MLL-rearranged leukemia leads to inhibition of cell proliferation, under tissue culture conditions as well as in vivo. Rnf20 knockdown leads to reduced expression of MLL-fusion target genes, effects resembling Dot1l inhibition. Using ChIP-seq, we found that H2B ubiquitination is enriched in the body of MLL-fusion target genes, correlating with sites of H3K79 methylation and transcription elongation. Furthermore, Rnf20 is required to maintain local levels of H3K79 methylation by Dot1l at Hoxa9 and Meis1. These findings support a model whereby cotranscriptional recruitment of Rnf20 at MLL-fusion target genes leads to amplification of Dot1l-mediated H3K79 methylation, thereby rendering leukemia cells dependent on Rnf20 to maintain their oncogenic transcriptional program.
Project description:The DOT1L histone H3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase plays an oncogenic role in MLL-rearranged leukemogenesis. Here, we demonstrate that, in contrast to MLL-rearranged leukemia, DOT1L plays a protective role in ultraviolet radiation (UVR)-induced melanoma development. Specifically, the DOT1L gene is located in a frequently deleted region and undergoes somatic mutation in human melanoma. Specific mutations functionally compromise DOT1L methyltransferase enzyme activity leading to reduced H3K79 methylation. Importantly, in the absence of DOT1L, UVR-induced DNA damage is inefficiently repaired, so that DOT1L loss promotes melanoma development in mice after exposure to UVR. Mechanistically, DOT1L facilitates DNA damage repair, with DOT1L-methylated H3K79 involvement in binding and recruiting XPC to the DNA damage site for nucleotide excision repair (NER). This study indicates that DOT1L plays a protective role in UVR-induced melanomagenesis.
Project description:The histone 3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase Dot1l has been implicated in the development of leukemias bearing translocations of the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene. We identified the MLL-fusion targets in an MLL-AF9 leukemia model, and conducted epigenetic profiling for H3K79me2, H3K4me3, H3K27me3, and H3K36me3 in hematopoietic progenitor and leukemia stem cells (LSCs). We found abnormal profiles only for H3K79me2 on MLL-AF9 fusion target loci in LSCs. Inactivation of Dot1l led to downregulation of direct MLL-AF9 targets and an MLL translocation-associated gene expression signature, whereas global gene expression remained largely unaffected. Suppression of MLL translocation-associated gene expression corresponded with dependence of MLL-AF9 leukemia on Dot1l in vivo. These data point to DOT1L as a potential therapeutic target in MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene rearrangements trigger aberrant epigenetic modification and gene expression in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, which generates one of the most aggressive subtypes of leukemia with an apex self-renewal. It remains a challenge to directly inhibit rearranged MLL itself because of its multiple fusion partners and the poorly annotated downstream genes of MLL fusion proteins; therefore, novel therapeutic targets are urgently needed. METHODS:qRT-PCR, receiver operating characteristic (ROC), and leukemia-free survival analysis were used to validate LAMP5-AS1 (LAMP5 antisense 1) expression and evaluate its clinical value. We performed in vitro and in vivo experiments to investigate the functional relevance of LAMP5-AS1 in MLL leukemia progression and leukemia cell stemness. RNA electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSA), histone methyltransferase assay, RNA pull-down assay, and RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) were used to validate the relationship between LAMP5-AS1 and the methyltransferase activity of DOT1L. The downstream ectopic target genes of LAMP5-AS1/DOT1L were validated by the chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and western blot. RESULTS:We discovered that a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) LAMP5-AS1 can promote higher degrees of H3K79 methylation, followed by upregulated expression of the self-renewal genes in the HOXA cluster, which are responsible for leukemia stemness in context of MLL rearrangements. We found that LAMP5-AS1 is specifically overexpressed in MLL leukemia patients (n = 58) than that in the MLL-wt leukemia (n = 163) (p < 0.001), and the patients with a higher expression level of LAMP5-AS1 exhibited a reduced 5-year leukemia-free survival (p < 0.01). LAMP5-AS1 suppression significantly reduced colony formation and increased differentiation of primary MLL leukemia CD34+ cells. Mechanistically, LAMP5-AS1 facilitated the methyltransferase activity of DOT1L by directly binding its Lys-rich region of catalytic domain, thus promoting the global patterns of H3K79 dimethylation and trimethylation in cells. These observations supported that LAMP5-AS1 upregulated H3K79me2/me3 and the transcription of DOT1L ectopic target genes. CONCLUSIONS:This is the first study that a lncRNA regulates the self-renewal program and differentiation block in MLL leukemia cells by facilitating the methyltransferase activity of DOT1L and global H3K79 methylation, showing its potential as a therapeutic target for MLL leukemia.
Project description:DOT1L methylates histone H3K79 and is aberrantly regulated in MLL-rearranged leukemia. Inhibitors have been developed to target DOT1L activity in leukemia, but cellular mechanisms that regulate DOT1L are still poorly understood. We have identified the histone deacetylase Rpd3 as a negative regulator of budding yeast Dot1. At its target genes, the transcriptional repressor Rpd3 restricts H3K79 methylation, explaining the absence of H3K79me3 at a subset of genes in the yeast genome. Similar to the crosstalk in yeast, inactivation of the murine Rpd3 homolog HDAC1 in thymocytes led to an increase in H3K79 methylation. Thymic lymphomas that arise upon genetic deletion of Hdac1 retained the increased H3K79 methylation and were sensitive to reduced DOT1L dosage. Furthermore, cell lines derived from Hdac1Δ/Δ thymic lymphomas were sensitive to a DOT1L inhibitor, which induced apoptosis. In summary, we identified an evolutionarily conserved crosstalk between HDAC1 and DOT1L with impact in murine thymic lymphoma development.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene translocations are found in ~75% infant and 10% adult acute leukemia, showing a poor prognosis. Lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) has recently been implicated to be a drug target for this subtype of leukemia. More studies using potent LSD1 inhibitors against MLL-rearranged leukemia are needed. METHODS:LSD1 inhibitors were examined for their biochemical and biological activities against LSD1 and MLL-rearranged leukemia as well as other cancer cells. RESULTS:Potent LSD1 inhibitors with biochemical IC50 values of 9.8-77 nM were found to strongly inhibit proliferation of MLL-rearranged leukemia cells with EC50 of 10-320 nM, while these compounds are generally non-cytotoxic to several other tumor cells. LSD1 inhibition increased histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methylation, downregulated expression of several leukemia-relevant genes, induced apoptosis and differentiation, and inhibited self-renewal of stem-like leukemia cells. Moreover, LSD1 inhibitors worked synergistically with inhibition of DOT1L, a histone H3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase, against MLL-rearranged leukemia. The most potent LSD1 inhibitor showed significant in vivo activity in a systemic mouse model of MLL-rearranged leukemia without overt toxicities. Mechanistically, LSD1 inhibitors caused significant upregulation of several pathways that promote hematopoietic differentiation and apoptosis. CONCLUSIONS:LSD1 is a drug target for MLL-rearranged leukemia, and LSD1 inhibitors are potential therapeutics for the malignancy.
Project description:We created a mouse model wherein conditional expression of an Mll-AF4 fusion oncogene induces B precursor acute lymphoblastic (ALL) or acute myeloid leukemias (AML). Gene expression profile analysis of the ALL cells demonstrated significant overlap with human MLL-rearranged ALL. ChIP-chip analysis demonstrated histone H3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methylation profiles that correlated with Mll-AF4-associated gene expression profiles in murine ALLs and in human MLL-rearranged leukemias. Human MLL-rearranged ALLs could be distinguished from other ALLs by their H3K79 profiles, and suppression of the H3K79 methyltransferase DOT1L inhibited expression of critical MLL-AF4 target genes. We thus demonstrate that ectopic H3K79 methylation is a distinguishing feature of murine and human MLL-AF4 ALLs and is important for maintenance of MLL-AF4-driven gene expression.
Project description:Rearrangements of the MLL gene define a genetically distinct subset of acute leukemias with poor prognosis. Current treatment options are of limited effectiveness; thus, there is a pressing need for new therapies for this disease. Genetic and small molecule inhibitor studies have demonstrated that the histone methyltransferase DOT1L is required for the development and maintenance of MLL-rearranged leukemia in model systems. Here we describe the characterization of EPZ-5676, a potent and selective aminonucleoside inhibitor of DOT1L histone methyltransferase activity. The compound has an inhibition constant value of 80 pM, and demonstrates 37?000-fold selectivity over all other methyltransferases tested. In cellular studies, EPZ-5676 inhibited H3K79 methylation and MLL-fusion target gene expression and demonstrated potent cell killing that was selective for acute leukemia lines bearing MLL translocations. Continuous IV infusion of EPZ-5676 in a rat xenograft model of MLL-rearranged leukemia caused complete tumor regressions that were sustained well beyond the compound infusion period with no significant weight loss or signs of toxicity. EPZ-5676 is therefore a potential treatment of MLL-rearranged leukemia and is under clinical investigation.
Project description:Rearrangements of MLL (encoding lysine-specific methyltransferase 2A and officially known as KMT2A; herein referred to as MLL to denote the gene associated with mixed-lineage leukemia) generate MLL fusion proteins that bind DNA and drive leukemogenic gene expression. This gene expression program is dependent on the disruptor of telomeric silencing 1-like histone 3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase DOT1L, and small-molecule DOT1L inhibitors show promise as therapeutics for these leukemias. However, the mechanisms underlying this dependency are unclear. We conducted a genome-scale RNAi screen and found that the histone deacetylase SIRT1 is required for the establishment of a heterochromatin-like state around MLL fusion target genes after DOT1L inhibition. DOT1L inhibits chromatin localization of a repressive complex composed of SIRT1 and the H3K9 methyltransferase SUV39H1, thereby maintaining an open chromatin state with elevated H3K9 acetylation and minimal H3K9 methylation at MLL fusion target genes. Furthermore, the combination of SIRT1 activators and DOT1L inhibitors shows enhanced antiproliferative activity against MLL-rearranged leukemia cells. These results indicate that the dynamic interplay between chromatin regulators controlling the activation and repression of gene expression could provide novel opportunities for combination therapy.
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.