Evolution of AF6-RAS association and its implications in mixed-lineage leukemia.
ABSTRACT: Elucidation of activation mechanisms governing protein fusions is essential for therapeutic development. MLL undergoes rearrangement with numerous partners, including a recurrent translocation fusing the epigenetic regulator to a cytoplasmic RAS effector, AF6/afadin. We show here that AF6 employs a non-canonical, evolutionarily conserved α-helix to bind RAS, unique to AF6 and the classical RASSF effectors. Further, all patients with MLL-AF6 translocations express fusion proteins missing only this helix from AF6, resulting in exposure of hydrophobic residues that induce dimerization. We provide evidence that oligomerization is the dominant mechanism driving oncogenesis from rare MLL translocation partners and employ our mechanistic understanding of MLL-AF6 to examine how dimers induce leukemia. Proteomic data resolve association of dimerized MLL with gene expression modulators, and inhibiting dimerization disrupts formation of these complexes while completely abrogating leukemogenesis in mice. Oncogenic gene translocations are thus selected under pressure from protein structure/function, underscoring the complex nature of chromosomal rearrangements.
Project description:MLL is a common target for chromosomal translocations associated with acute leukemia resulting in its fusion with a large variety of nuclear or cytoplasmic proteins that may activate its oncogenic properties by distinct but poorly understood mechanisms. The MLL-AF6 fusion gene represents the most common leukemogenic fusion of mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) to a cytoplasmic partner protein. Here, we identified a highly conserved Ras association (RA1) domain at the amino-terminus of AF6 as the minimal region sufficient for MLL-AF6 mediated myeloid progenitor immortalization in vitro and short latency leukemogenesis in vivo. Moreover, the ability of RA1 to activate MLL oncogenesis is conserved with its Drosophila ortholog, Canoe. Although the AF6 RA1 domain has previously been defined as an interaction surface for guanosine triphosphate-bound Ras, single amino acid substitutions known to abolish the AF6-Ras interaction did not abrogate MLL-AF6-mediated oncogenesis. Furthermore, fusion of MLL to heterologous RA domains of c-Raf1 or RalGDS, or direct fusion of MLL to constitutively active K-RAS, H-RAS, or RAP1 was not sufficient for oncogenic activation of MLL. Rather, the AF6 RA1 domain efficiently mediated self-association, suggesting that constitutive MLL self-association is a more common pathogenic mechanism for MLL oncogenesis than indicated by previous studies of rare MLL fusion partners.
Project description:The t(6;11)(q27;q23) is a recurrent chromosomal rearrangement that encodes the MLLAF6 fusion oncoprotein and is observed in patients with diverse hematologic malignancies. The presence of the t(6;11)(q27;q23) has been linked to poor overall survival in patients with AML. In this study, we demonstrate that MLL-AF6 requires continued activity of the histone-methyltransferase DOT1L to maintain expression of the MLL-AF6-driven oncogenic gene-expression program. Using gene-expression analysis and genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation studies followed by next generation sequencing, we found that MLL-fusion target genes display markedly high levels of histone 3 at lysine 79 (H3K79) dimethylation in murine MLL-AF6 leukemias as well as in ML2, a human myelomonocytic leukemia cell line bearing the t(6;11)(q27;q23) translocation. Targeted disruption of Dot1l using a conditional knockout mouse model inhibited leukemogenesis mediated by the MLL-AF6 fusion oncogene. Moreover, both murine MLL-AF6-transformed cells as well as the human MLL-AF6-positive ML2 leukemia cell line displayed specific sensitivity to EPZ0004777, a recently described, selective, small-molecule inhibitor of Dot1l. Dot1l inhibition resulted in significantly decreased proliferation, decreased expression of MLL-AF6 target genes, and cell cycle arrest of MLL-AF6-transformed cells. These results indicate that patients bearing the t(6;11)(q27;q23) translocation may benefit from therapeutic agents targeting aberrant H3K79 methylation.
Project description:Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) with MLL gene rearrangements demonstrate unique gene expression profiles driven by MLL-fusion proteins. Here, we identify the circadian clock transcription factor SHARP1 as a novel oncogenic target in MLL-AF6 AML, which has the worst prognosis among all subtypes of MLL-rearranged AMLs. SHARP1 is expressed solely in MLL-AF6 AML, and its expression is regulated directly by MLL-AF6/DOT1L. Suppression of SHARP1 induces robust apoptosis of human MLL-AF6 AML cells. Genetic deletion in mice delays the development of leukemia and attenuated leukemia-initiating potential, while sparing normal hematopoiesis. Mechanistically, SHARP1 binds to transcriptionally active chromatin across the genome and activates genes critical for cell survival as well as key oncogenic targets of MLL-AF6. Our findings demonstrate the unique oncogenic role for SHARP1 in MLL-AF6 AML.
Project description:In pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML), intensive chemotherapy and allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation are the cornerstones of treatment in high-risk cases, with severe late effects and a still high risk of disease recurrence as the main drawbacks. The identification of targeted, more effective, safer drugs is thus desirable. We performed a high-throughput drug-screening assay of 1280 compounds and identified thioridazine (TDZ), a drug that was highly selective for the t(6;11)(q27;q23) MLL-AF6 (6;11)AML rearrangement, which mediates a dramatically poor (below 20%) survival rate. TDZ induced cell death and irreversible progress toward the loss of leukemia cell clonogenic capacity in vitro. Thus, we explored its mechanism of action and found a profound cytoskeletal remodeling of blast cells that led to Ca2+ influx, triggering apoptosis through mitochondrial depolarization, confirming that this latter phenomenon occurs selectively in t(6;11)AML, for which AF6 does not work as a cytoskeletal regulator, because it is sequestered into the nucleus by the fusion gene. We confirmed TDZ-mediated t(6;11)AML toxicity in vivo and enhanced the drug's safety by developing novel TDZ analogues that exerted the same effect on leukemia reduction, but with lowered neuroleptic effects in vivo. Overall, these results refine the MLL-AF6 AML leukemogenic mechanism and suggest that the benefits of targeting it be corroborated in further clinical trials.
Project description:This dataset contains 14 raw mass spectrometry files associated with the study by Smith et al. that studies the evolution of AF6-RAS association and its implications in Mixed-Lineage Leukemia (MLL). Profiling of MLL and fusion proteins (with Afadin, AF6) was performed by BioID.
Project description:The MLL gene on chromosome 11 fuses to the AF6 gene on chromosome 6 in a balanced chromosomal translocation that is characetristic of certain adult and pediatric human leukemias. We established a murine leukemia model of MLL-AF6 using the retroviral MLL-AF6 contruct in a bone marrow transplantation system. The ML2 human MLL-AF6 positive leukemia cell line was used for gene expression profiling to assess the transctiptional profile in MLL-AF6 leukemias. RNA was extracted from the ML2 cell line cultured under standard conditionswith TRIZOL (Invitrogen), purified using RNAeasy(Qiagen) and hybridized onto Affymetrix arrays.
Project description:The MLL gene on chromosome 11 fuses to the AF6 gene on chromosome 6 in a balanced chromosomal translocation that is characetristic of certain adult and pediatric human leukemias. We established a murine leukemia model of MLL-AF6 using the retroviral MLL-AF6 contruct in a bone marrow transplantation system. The ML2 human MLL-AF6 positive leukemia cell line was used for gene expression profiling to assess the transctiptional profile in MLL-AF6 leukemias. Overall design: RNA was extracted from the ML2 cell line cultured under standard conditionswith TRIZOL (Invitrogen), purified using RNAeasy(Qiagen) and hybridized onto Affymetrix arrays.
Project description:The MLL gene on chromosome 11 fuses to the AF6 gene on chromosome 6 in a balanced chromosomal translocation that is characetristic of certain adult and pediatric human leukemias. We established a murine leukemia model of MLL-AF6 using the retroviral MLL-AF6 contruct in a bone marrow transplantation system. Leukemic bone marrow cells from a sacrificed moribund mouse were thawed and RNA was extracted using TRIZOL (Invitrogen) and purified further using the RNAeasy kit (Qiagen) under standard conditions and and hybridized onto Affymetrix arrays.
Project description:We report the genome wide distribution of H3K79 dimethylation in mouse MLL-AF6 positive leukemias to assess whether this epigenetic mark drives MLL-target gene expression. Examination of H3K79 dimethylation in bone marrow cells from sacrificed terminally ill MLL-AF6 positive leukemic mice. The retroviral MSCV-IRES-neo-MLL-AF6 construct was transduced into mouse bone marrow lineage negative Kit +, Sca + (LSK) cells and these cells were injected after G418 selection into irradiated syngenic mice to establish MLL-AF6 positive leukemias.
Project description:Eph-related receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) have been implicated in intercellular communication during embryonic development. To elucidate their signal transduction pathways, we applied the yeast two-hybrid system. We could demonstrate that the carboxyl termini of the Eph-related RTKs EphA7, EphB2, EphB3, EphB5, and EphB6 interact with the PDZ domain of the ras-binding protein AF6. A mutational analysis revealed that six C-terminal residues of the receptors are involved in binding to the PDZ domain of AF6 in a sequence-specific fashion. Moreover, this PDZ domain also interacts with C-terminal sequences derived from other transmembrane receptors such as neurexins and the Notch ligand Jagged. In contrast to the association of EphB3 to the PDZ domain of AF6, the interaction with full-length AF6 clearly depends on the kinase activity of EphB3, suggesting a regulated mechanism for the PDZ-domain-mediated interaction. These data gave rise to the idea that the binding of AF6 to EphB3 occurs in a cooperative fashion because of synergistic effects involving different epitopes of both proteins. Moreover, in NIH 3T3 and NG108 cells endogenous AF6 is phosphorylated specifically by EphB3 and EphB2 in a ligand-dependent fashion. Our observations add the PDZ domain to the group of conserved protein modules such as Src-homology-2 (SH2) and phosphotyrosine-binding (PTB) domains that regulate signal transduction through their ability to mediate the interaction with RTKs.