AF10 regulates progressive H3K79 methylation and HOX gene expression in diverse AML subtypes.
ABSTRACT: Homeotic (HOX) genes are dysregulated in multiple malignancies, including several AML subtypes. We demonstrate that H3K79 dimethylation (H3K79me2) is converted to monomethylation (H3K79me1) at HOX loci as hematopoietic cells mature, thus coinciding with a decrease in HOX gene expression. We show that H3K79 methyltransferase activity as well as H3K79me1-to-H3K79me2 conversion is regulated by the DOT1L cofactor AF10. AF10 inactivation reverses leukemia-associated epigenetic profiles, precludes abnormal HOXA gene expression, and impairs the transforming ability of MLL-AF9, MLL-AF6, and NUP98-NSD1 fusions-mechanistically distinct HOX-activating oncogenes. Furthermore, NUP98-NSD1-transformed cells are sensitive to small-molecule inhibition of DOT1L. Our findings demonstrate that pharmacological inhibition of the DOT1L/AF10 complex may provide therapeutic benefits in an array of malignancies with abnormal HOXA gene expression.
Project description:The t(10;11)(p12;q23) translocation and the t(10;11)(p12;q14) translocation, which encode the MLL (mixed lineage leukemia)-AF10 and CALM (clathrin assembly lymphoid myeloid leukemia)-AF10 fusion oncoproteins, respectively, are two recurrent chromosomal rearrangements observed in patients with acute myeloid leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Here, we demonstrate that MLL-AF10 and CALM-AF10-mediated transformation is dependent on the H3K79 methyltransferase Dot1l using genetic and pharmacological approaches in mouse models. Targeted disruption of Dot1l using a conditional knockout mouse model abolished in vitro transformation of murine bone marrow cells and in vivo initiation and maintenance of MLL-AF10 or CALM-AF10 leukemia. The treatment of MLL-AF10 and CALM-AF10 transformed cells with EPZ004777, a specific small-molecule inhibitor of Dot1l, suppressed expression of leukemogenic genes such as Hoxa cluster genes and Meis1, and selectively impaired proliferation of MLL-AF10 and CALM-AF10 transformed cells. Pretreatment with EPZ004777 profoundly decreased the in vivo spleen-colony-forming ability of MLL-AF10 or CALM-AF10 transformed bone marrow cells. These results show that patients with leukemia-bearing chromosomal translocations that involve the AF10 gene may benefit from small-molecule therapeutics that inhibit H3K79 methylation.
Project description:The mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL)-AF10 fusion oncoprotein recruits DOT1L to the homeobox A (HOXA) gene cluster through its octapeptide motif leucine zipper (OM-LZ), thereby inducing and maintaining the MLL-AF10-associated leukemogenesis. However, the recognition mechanism between DOT1L and MLL-AF10 is unclear. Here, we present the crystal structures of both apo AF10OM-LZ and its complex with the coiled-coil domain of DOT1L. Disruption of the DOT1L-AF10 interface abrogates MLL-AF10-associated leukemic transformation. We further show that zinc stabilizes the DOT1L-AF10 complex and may be involved in the regulation of the HOXA gene expression. Our studies may also pave the way for the rational design of therapeutic drugs against MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Project description:The MLL gene is a common target of chromosomal translocations found in human leukemia. MLL-fusion leukemia has a consistently poor outcome. One of the most common translocation partners is AF9 (MLLT3). MLL-AF9 recruits DOT1L, a histone 3 lysine 79 methyltransferase (H3K79me1/me2/me3), leading to aberrant gene transcription. We show that DOT1L has three AF9 binding sites and present the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) solution structure of a DOT1L-AF9 complex. We generate structure-guided point mutations and find that they have graded effects on recruitment of DOT1L to MLL-AF9. Chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) analyses of H3K79me2 and H3K79me3 show that graded reduction of the DOT1L interaction with MLL-AF9 results in differential loss of H3K79me2 and me3 at MLL-AF9 target genes. Furthermore, the degree of DOT1L recruitment is linked to the level of MLL-AF9 hematopoietic transformation.
Project description:The t(10;11) chromosomal translocation gives rise to the CALM-AF10 fusion gene and is found in patients with aggressive and difficult-to-treat hematopoietic malignancies. CALM-AF10-driven leukemias are characterized by HOXA gene up-regulation and a global reduction in H3K79 methylation. DOT1L, the H3K79 methyltransferase, interacts with the octapeptide/leucine zipper domain of AF10, and this region has been shown to be necessary and sufficient for CALM-AF10-mediated transformation. However, the precise role of CALM in leukemogenesis remains unclear. Here, we show that CALM contains a nuclear export signal (NES) that mediates cytoplasmic localization of CALM-AF10 and is necessary for CALM-AF10-dependent transformation. Fusions of the CALM NES (NES(CALM)-AF10) or NES motifs from heterologous proteins (ABL1, Rev, PKIA, APC) in-frame with AF10 are sufficient to immortalize murine hematopoietic progenitors in vitro. The CALM NES is essential for CALM-AF10-dependent Hoxa gene up-regulation and aberrant H3K79 methylation, possibly by mislocalization of DOT1L. Finally, we observed that CALM-AF10 leukemia cells are selectively sensitive to inhibition of nuclear export by Leptomycin B. These findings uncover a novel mechanism of leukemogenesis mediated by the nuclear export pathway and support further investigation of the utility of nuclear export inhibitors as therapeutic agents for patients with CALM-AF10 leukemias.
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: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:During meiotic prophase I, interactions between maternal and paternal chromosomes, under checkpoint surveillance, establish connections between homologs that promote their accurate distribution to meiotic progeny. In human, faulty meiosis causes aneuploidy resulting in miscarriages and genetic diseases. Meiotic processes occur in the context of chromatin; therefore, histone post-translational modifications are expected to play important roles. Here, we report the cytological distribution of the evolutionarily conserved DOT1L methyltransferase and the different H3K79 methylation states resulting from its activity (mono-, di- and tri-methylation; H3K79me1, me2 and me3, respectively) during meiotic prophase I in mouse spermatocytes. In the wild type, whereas low amounts of H3K79me1 are rather uniformly present throughout prophase I, levels of DOT1L, H3K79me2 and H3K79me3 exhibit a notable increase from pachynema onwards, but with differential subnuclear distribution patterns. The heterochromatic centromeric regions and the sex body are enriched for H3K79me3. In contrast, H3K79me2 is present all over the chromatin, but is largely excluded from the sex body despite the accumulation of DOT1L. In meiosis-defective mouse mutants, the increase of DOT1L and H3K79me is blocked at the same stage where meiosis is arrested. H3K79me patterns, combined with the cytological analysis of the H3.3, ?H2AX, macroH2A and H2A.Z histone variants, are consistent with a differential role for these epigenetic marks in male mouse meiotic prophase I. We propose that H3K79me2 is related to transcriptional reactivation on autosomes during pachynema, whereas H3K79me3 may contribute to the maintenance of repressive chromatin at centromeric regions and the sex body.
Project description:Methylation of H3K79 is associated with chromatin at expressed genes, though it is unclear if this histone modification is required for transcription of all genes. Recent studies suggest that Wnt-responsive genes depend particularly on H3K79 methylation, which is catalyzed by the methyltransferase DOT1L. Human leukemias carrying MLL gene rearrangements show DOT1L-mediated H3K79 methylation and aberrant expression of leukemogenic genes. DOT1L inhibitors reverse these effects, but their clinical use is potentially limited by toxicity in Wnt-dependent tissues such as intestinal epithelium. Genome-wide positioning of the H3K79me2 mark in Lgr5(+) mouse intestinal stem cells and mature intestinal villus epithelium correlated with expression levels of all transcripts and not with Wnt-responsive genes per se. Selective Dot1l disruption in Lgr5(+) stem cells or in whole intestinal epithelium eliminated H3K79me2 from the respective compartments, allowing genetic evaluation of DOT1L requirements. The absence of methylated H3K79 did not impair health, intestinal homeostasis, or expression of Wnt target genes in crypt epithelium for up to 4 months, despite increased crypt cell apoptosis. Global transcript profiles in Dot1l-null cells were barely altered. Thus, H3K79 methylation is not essential for transcription of Wnt-responsive or other intestinal genes, and intestinal toxicity is not imperative when DOT1L is rendered inactive in vivo.
Project description:Oncogenic MLL fusion proteins aberrantly recruit Dot1L, a histone methyltransferase, to ectopic loci, leading to local hypermethylation of H3K79 and misexpression of HoxA genes driving MLL-rearranged leukemias. Inhibition of the methyltransferase activity of Dot1L in this setting is predicted to reverse aberrant H3K79 methylation, leading to repression of leukemogenic genes and tumor growth inhibition. In the context of our Dot1L drug discovery program, high-throughput screening led to the identification of 2, a weak Dot1L inhibitor with an unprecedented, induced pocket binding mode. A medicinal chemistry campaign, strongly guided by structure-based consideration and ligand-based morphing, enabled the discovery of 12 and 13, potent, selective, and structurally completely novel Dot1L inhibitors.