SETDB2 Links E2A-PBX1 to Cell-Cycle Dysregulation in Acute Leukemia through CDKN2C Repression.
ABSTRACT: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, necessitating further improvements in diagnosis and therapy. Targeted therapies directed against chromatin regulators are emerging as promising approaches in preclinical studies and early clinical trials. Here, we demonstrate an oncogenic role for the protein lysine methyltransferase SETDB2 in leukemia pathogenesis. It is overexpressed in pre-BCR+ ALL and required for their maintenance in vitro and in vivo. SETDB2 expression is maintained as a direct target gene of the chimeric transcription factor E2A-PBX1 in a subset of ALL and suppresses expression of the cell-cycle inhibitor CDKN2C through histone H3K9 tri-methylation, thus establishing an oncogenic pathway subordinate to E2A-PBX1 that silences a major tumor suppressor in ALL. In contrast, SETDB2 was relatively dispensable for normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell proliferation. SETDB2 knockdown enhances sensitivity to kinase and chromatin inhibitors, providing a mechanistic rationale for targeting SETDB2 therapeutically in ALL.
Project description:Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality necessitating further improvements in diagnosis and therapy. Targeted therapies directed against epigenetic regulators, which are frequently mutated or misregulated in acute leukemia, are emerging as candidate approaches in preclinical studies and early trials. However, the epigenetic factors involved in most ALLs are not well defined or functionally characterized. In this study, we demonstrate an oncogenic role for the protein lysine methyltransferase SETDB2 in leukemia pathogenesis. It is over-expressed in a wide spectrum of leukemias, required for their maintenance in vitro and in vivo, and its elevated expression correlates with a poor prognosis in clinical cohorts. In a subset of ALL with the preBCR+ phenotype, SETDB2 expression is maintained as a direct target gene of the chimeric transcription factor E2A-PBX1. In this subset, SETDB2 epigenetically suppresses expression of the cell cycle inhibitor CDKN2C through histone H3K9 tri-methylation thus establishing a novel oncogenic pathway subordinate to E2A-PBX1 that silences a major tumor suppressor in ALL. In contrast, SETDB2 was relatively dispensable for normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell proliferation. In addition to targeting SETDB2 alone, its knockdown significantly enhanced sensitivity to kinase and epigenetic inhibitors suggesting a potential approach to future combination treatments. Our studies define an epigenetic role for SETDB2 in leukemia pathogenesis, and provide a mechanistic rationale for targeting SETDB2 therapeutically in a subset of leukemia. Overall design: For RNAseq experiment, E2A-PBX1 was specifically knocked down by two shRNAs in two human E2A-PBX1+ cell lines (RCH-ACV, 697). Finally, two cell lines with two shRNAs plus corresponding control in triplicates are submitted to RNAseq sequencing. For ChIP-seq, RCH-ACV cells depleted of SETDB2 by shRNA were immuoprecipitated with anti-H3K9me3 antibody, and together with input control were constructed for ChIP-seq libraries and submitted to single-end ChIP-sequencing (detailed protocol referred to, Wong et al., 2015, Cancer Cell).
Project description:The PBX1 homeodomain transcription factor is converted by t(1;19) chromosomal translocations in acute leukemia into the chimeric E2A-PBX1 oncoprotein. Fusion with E2A confers potent transcriptional activation and constitutive nuclear localization, bypassing the need for dimerization with protein partners that normally stabilize and regulate import of PBX1 into the nucleus, but the mechanisms underlying its oncogenic activation are incompletely defined. We demonstrate here that E2A-PBX1 self-associates through the PBX1 PBC-B domain of the chimeric protein to form higher-order oligomers in t(1;19) human leukemia cells, and that this property is required for oncogenic activity. Structural and functional studies indicate that self-association facilitates the binding of E2A-PBX1 to DNA. Mutants unable to self-associate are transformation defective, however their oncogenic activity is rescued by the synthetic oligomerization domain of FKBP, which confers conditional transformation properties on E2A-PBX1. In contrast to self-association, PBX1 protein domains that mediate interactions with HOX DNA-binding partners are dispensable. These studies suggest that oligomeric self-association may compensate for the inability of monomeric E2A-PBX1 to stably bind DNA and circumvents protein interactions that otherwise modulate PBX1 stability, nuclear localization, DNA binding, and transcriptional activity. The unique dependence on self-association for E2A-PBX1 oncogenic activity suggests potential approaches for mechanism-based targeted therapies.
Project description:The oncogenic transcription factor E2A-PBX1 is expressed consequent to chromosomal translocation 1;19 and is an important oncogenic driver in cases of pre-B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Elucidating the mechanism by which E2A-PBX1 induces lymphoid leukemia would be expedited by the availability of a tractable experimental model in which enforced expression of E2A-PBX1 in hematopoietic progenitors induces pre-B-cell ALL. However, hematopoietic reconstitution of irradiated mice with bone marrow infected with E2A-PBX1-expressing retroviruses consistently gives rise to myeloid, not lymphoid, leukemia. Here, we elucidate the hematopoietic consequences of forced E2A-PBX1 expression in primary murine hematopoietic progenitors. We show that introducing E2A-PBX1 into multipotent progenitors permits the retention of myeloid potential but imposes a dense barrier to lymphoid development prior to the common lymphoid progenitor stage, thus helping to explain the eventual development of myeloid, and not lymphoid, leukemia in transplanted mice. Our findings also indicate that E2A-PBX1 enforces the aberrant, persistent expression of some genes that would normally have been down-regulated in the subsequent course of hematopoietic maturation. We show that enforced expression of one such gene, Hoxa9, a proto-oncogene associated with myeloid leukemia, partially reproduces the phenotype produced by E2A-PBX1 itself. Existing evidence suggests that the 1;19 translocation event takes place in committed B-lymphoid progenitors. However, we find that retrovirus-enforced expression of E2A-PBX1 in committed pro-B-cells results in cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Our findings indicate that the neoplastic phenotype induced by E2A-PBX1 is determined by the developmental stage of the cell into which the oncoprotein is introduced.
Project description:E2A-PBX1 is expressed as a result of the t(1;19) chromosomal translocation in nearly 5% of cases of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The E2A-PBX1 chimeric transcription factor contains the N-terminal transactivation domain of E2A (TCF3) fused to the C-terminal DNA-binding homeodomain of PBX1. While there is no doubt of its oncogenic potential, the mechanisms of E2A-PBX1-mediated pre-B cell transformation and the nature of direct E2A-PBX1 target genes and pathways remain largely unknown. Herein we used chromatin immunoprecipitation assays (ChIP-chip) to identify direct targets of E2A-PBX1, and we used gene expression arrays of siRNA E2A-PBX1-silenced cells to evaluate changes in expression induced by the fusion protein. Combined ChIP-chip and expression data analysis gave rise to direct and functional targets of E2A-PBX1. Further we observe that the set of ChIP-chip identified E2A-PBX1 targets show a collective down-regulation trend in the E2A-PBX1 silenced samples compared to controls suggesting an activating role of this fusion transcription factor. Our data suggest that the expression of the E2A-PBX1 fusion gene interferes with key regulatory pathways and functions of hematopoietic biology. Among these are members of the WNT and apoptosis/cell cycle control pathways, and thus may comprise an essential driving force for the propagation and maintenance of the leukemic phenotype. These findings may also provide evidence of potentially attractive therapeutic targets.
Project description:Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer; however, its genetic diversity limits investigation into the molecular pathogenesis of disease and development of therapeutic strategies. Here, we engineered mice that conditionally express the E2A-PBX1 fusion oncogene, which results from chromosomal translocation t(1;19) and is present in 5% to 7% of pediatric ALL cases. The incidence of leukemia in these mice varied from 5% to 50%, dependent on the Cre-driving promoter (Cd19, Mb1, or Mx1) used to induce E2A-PBX1 expression. Two distinct but highly similar subtypes of B cell precursor ALLs that differed by their pre-B cell receptor (pre-BCR) status were induced and displayed maturation arrest at the pro-B/large pre-B II stages of differentiation, similar to human E2A-PBX1 ALL. Somatic activation of E2A-PBX1 in B cell progenitors enhanced self-renewal and led to acquisition of multiple secondary genomic aberrations, including prominent spontaneous loss of Pax5. In preleukemic mice, conditional Pax5 deletion cooperated with E2A-PBX1 to expand progenitor B cell subpopulations, increasing penetrance and shortening leukemia latency. Recurrent secondary activating mutations were detected in key signaling pathways, most notably JAK/STAT, that leukemia cells require for proliferation. These data support conditional E2A-PBX1 mice as a model of human ALL and suggest targeting pre-BCR signaling and JAK kinases as potential therapeutic strategies.
Project description:E2A-PBX1 is a chimeric gene product detected in t(1;19)-bearing acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with B-cell lineage. To investigate the leukemogenic process, we generated conditional knock-in (cKI) mice for E2A-PBX1, in which E2A-PBX1 is inducibly expressed under the control of the endogenous E2A promoter. Despite the induced expression of E2A-PBX1, no hematopoietic disease was observed, strongly suggesting that additional genetic alterations are required to develop leukemia. To address this possibility, retroviral insertional mutagenesis was used. Virus infection efficiently induced T-cell, B-cell, and biphenotypic ALL in E2A-PBX1 cKI mice. Inverse PCR identified eight retroviral common integration sites, in which enhanced expression was observed in the Gfi1, Mycn, and Pim1 genes. In addition, it is of note that viral integration and overexpression of the Zfp521 gene was detected in one tumor with B-cell lineage; we previously identified Zfp521 as a cooperative gene with E2A-HLF, another E2A-involving fusion gene with B-lineage ALL. The cooperative oncogenicity of E2A-PBX1 with overexpressed Zfp521 in B-cell tumorigenesis was indicated by the finding that E2A-PBX1 cKI, Zfp521 transgenic compound mice developed B-lineage ALL. Moreover, upregulation of ZNF521, the human counterpart of Zfp521, was found in several human leukemic cell lines bearing t(1;19). These results indicate that E2A-PBX1 cooperates with additional gene alterations to develop ALL. Among them, enhanced expression of ZNF521 may play a clinically relevant role in E2A fusion genes to develop B-lineage ALL.
Project description:E2A-PBX1 fusion gene caused by t(1;19)(q23;p13), has been well characterized in acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL). There is no report on E2A-PBX1 fusion transcripts in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).We used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect E2A-PBX1 fusion transcripts in human NSCLC tissue specimens and cell lines. We analyzed correlation of E2A-PBX1 fusion transcripts with clinical outcomes in 76 patients with adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS) and other subgroups. We compared mutation status of k-ras, p53 and EGFR in 22 patients with E2A-PBX1 fusion transcripts.We detected E2A-PBX1 transcripts in 23 of 184 (12.5%) NSCLC tissue specimens and 3 of 13 (23.1%) NSCLC cell lines. Presence of E2A-PBX1 fusion transcripts correlated with smoking status in female patients (P=0.048), AIS histology (P=0.006) and tumor size (P=0.026). The overall survival was associated with gender among AIS patients (P=0.0378) and AIS patients without E2A-PBX1 fusion transcripts (P=0.0345), but not among AIS patients with E2A-PBX1 fusion transcripts (P=0.6401). The overall survival was also associated with status of E2A-PBX1 fusion transcripts among AIS stage IA patients (P=0.0363) and AIS stage IA female patients (P=0.0174). In addition, among the 22 patients with E2A-PBX1 fusion transcripts, 12 (54.5%) patients including all four non-smokers, showed no common mutations in k-ras, p53 and EGFR.E2A-PBX1 fusion gene caused by t(1;19)(q23;p13) may be a common genetic change in AIS and a survival determinant for female AIS patients at early stage.
Project description:Relevant mouse models of E2a-PBX1-induced pre-B cell leukemia are still elusive. We now report the generation of a pre-B leukemia model using E2a-PBX1 transgenic mice, which lack mature and precursor T-cells as a result of engineered loss of CD3epsilon expression (CD3epsilon(-/-)). Using insertional mutagenesis and inverse-PCR, we show that B-cell leukemia development in the E2a-PBX1 x CD3epsilon(-/-) compound transgenic animals is significantly accelerated when compared to control littermates, and document several known and novel integrations in these tumors. Of all common integration sites, a small region of 19 kb in the Hoxa gene locus, mostly between Hoxa6 and Hoxa10, represented 18% of all integrations in the E2a-PBX1 B-cell leukemia and was targeted in 86% of these leukemias compared to 17% in control tumors. Q-PCR assessment of expression levels for most Hoxa cluster genes in these tumors revealed an unprecedented impact of the proviral integrations on Hoxa gene expression, with tumors having one to seven different Hoxa genes overexpressed at levels up to 6600-fold above control values. Together our studies set the stage for modeling E2a-PBX1-induced B-cell leukemia and shed new light on the complexity pertaining to Hox gene regulation. In addition, our results show that the Hoxa gene cluster is preferentially targeted in E2a-PBX1-induced tumors, thus suggesting functional collaboration between these oncogenes in pre-B-cell tumors.