RNA Polymerase II-Dependent Transcription Initiated by Selectivity Factor 1: A Central Mechanism Used by MLL Fusion Proteins in Leukemic Transformation.
ABSTRACT: Cancer cells transcribe RNAs in a characteristic manner in order to maintain their oncogenic potentials. In eukaryotes, RNA is polymerized by three distinct RNA polymerases, RNA polymerase I, II, and III (RNAP1, RNAP2, and RNAP3, respectively). The transcriptional machinery that initiates each transcription reaction has been purified and characterized. Selectivity factor 1 (SL1) is the complex responsible for RNAP1 pre-initiation complex formation. However, whether it plays any role in RNAP2-dependent transcription remains unclear. Our group previously found that SL1 specifically associates with AF4 family proteins. AF4 family proteins form the AEP complex with ENL family proteins and the P-TEFb elongation factor. Similar complexes have been independently characterized by several different laboratories and are often referred to as super elongation complex. The involvement of AEP in RNAP2-dependent transcription indicates that SL1 must play an important role in RNAP2-dependent transcription. To date, this role of SL1 has not been appreciated. In leukemia, AF4 and ENL family genes are frequently rearranged to form chimeric fusion genes with MLL. The resultant MLL fusion genes produce chimeric MLL fusion proteins comprising MLL and AEP components. The MLL portion functions as a targeting module, which specifically binds chromatin containing di-/tri-methylated histone H3 lysine 36 and non-methylated CpGs. This type of chromatin is enriched at the promoters of transcriptionally active genes which allows MLL fusion proteins to selectively bind to transcriptionally-active/CpG-rich gene promoters. The fusion partner portion, which recruits other AEP components and SL1, is responsible for activation of RNAP2-dependent transcription. Consequently, MLL fusion proteins constitutively activate the transcription of previously-transcribed MLL target genes. Structure/function analysis has shown that the ability of MLL fusion proteins to transform hematopoietic progenitors depends on the recruitment of AEP and SL1. Thus, the AEP/SL1-mediated gene activation pathway appears to be the central mechanism of MLL fusion-mediated transcriptional activation. However, the molecular mechanism by which SL1 activates RNAP2-dependent transcription remains largely unclear. This review aims to cover recent discoveries of the mechanism of transcriptional activation by MLL fusion proteins and to introduce novel roles of SL1 in RNAP2-dependent transcription by discussing how the RNAP1 machinery may be involved in RNAP2-dependent gene regulation.
Project description:Gene rearrangements generate MLL fusion genes, which can lead to aggressive leukemia. In most cases, MLL fuses with a gene encoding a component of the AEP (AF4 family/ENL family/P-TEFb) coactivator complex. MLL-AEP fusion proteins constitutively activate their target genes to immortalize haematopoietic progenitors. Here we show that AEP and MLL-AEP fusion proteins activate transcription through selectivity factor 1 (SL1), a core component of the pre-initiation complex (PIC) of RNA polymerase I (RNAP1). The pSER domain of AF4 family proteins associates with SL1 on chromatin and loads TATA-binding protein (TBP) onto the promoter to initiate RNA polymerase II (RNAP2)-dependent transcription. These results reveal a previously unknown transcription initiation mechanism involving AEP and a role for SL1 as a TBP-loading factor in RNAP2-dependent gene activation.
Project description:Gene rearrangement of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene causes leukemia by inducing the constitutive expression of a gene subset normally expressed only in the immature haematopoietic progenitor cells. MLL gene rearrangements often generate fusion products of MLL and a component of the AF4 family/ENL family/P-TEFb (AEP) complex. MLL-AEP fusion proteins have the potential of constitutively recruiting the P-TEFb elongation complex. Thus, it is hypothesized that relieving the promoter proximal pausing of RNA polymerase II is the rate-limiting step of MLL fusion-dependent transcription. AEP also has the potential to recruit the mediator complex via MED26. We recently showed that AEP activates transcription initiation by facilitating TBP loading to the TATA element through the SL1 complex. In the present study, we show that the key activity responsible for the oncogenic property of MLL-AEP fusion proteins is the TBP loading activity, and not the mediator recruitment or transcriptional elongation activities. Thus, we propose that TBP loading by AF4 through SL1 is the major rate-limiting step in MLL fusion-dependent transcription.
Project description:The eleven-nineteen leukemia (ENL) protein family, composed of ENL and AF9, is a common component of 3 transcriptional modulators: AF4-ENL-P-TEFb complex (AEP), DOT1L-AF10-ENL complex (referred to as the DOT1L complex) and polycomb-repressive complex 1 (PRC1). Each complex associates with chromatin via distinct mechanisms, conferring different transcriptional properties including activation, maintenance, and repression. The mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene often fuses with ENL and AF10 family genes in leukemia. However, the functional interrelationship among those 3 complexes in leukemic transformation remains largely elusive. Here, we have shown that MLL-ENL and MLL-AF10 constitutively activate transcription by aberrantly inducing both AEP-dependent transcriptional activation and DOT1L-dependent transcriptional maintenance, mostly in the absence of PRC1, to fully transform hematopoietic progenitors. These results reveal a cooperative transcriptional activation mechanism of AEP and DOT1L and suggest a molecular rationale for the simultaneous inhibition of the MLL fusion-AF4 complex and DOT1L for more effective treatment of MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Project description:AF4 and ENL family proteins are frequently fused with MLL, and they comprise a higher order complex (designated AEP) containing the P-TEFb transcription elongation factor. Here, we show that AEP is normally recruited to MLL-target chromatin to facilitate transcription. In contrast, MLL oncoproteins fused with AEP components constitutively form MLL/AEP hybrid complexes to cause sustained target gene expression, which leads to transformation of hematopoietic progenitors. Furthermore, MLL-AF6, an MLL fusion with a cytoplasmic protein, does not form such hybrid complexes, but nevertheless constitutively recruits AEP to target chromatin via unknown alternative mechanisms. Thus, AEP recruitment is an integral part of both physiological and pathological MLL-dependent transcriptional pathways. Bypass of its normal recruitment mechanisms is the strategy most frequently used by MLL oncoproteins.
Project description:Chimeric proteins joining the histone methyltransferase MLL with various fusion partners trigger distinctive lymphoid and myeloid leukemias. Here, we immunopurified proteins associated with ENL, a protein commonly fused to MLL. Identification of these ENL-associated proteins (EAPs) by mass spectrometry revealed enzymes with a known role in transcriptional elongation (RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain kinase [RNAPolII CTD] positive transcription elongation factor b [pTEFb]), and in chromatin modification (histone-H3 methyltransferase DOT1L) as well as other frequent MLL partners (AF4, AF5q31, and LAF4), and polycomb group members (RING1, CBX8, and BCoR). The composition of EAP was further verified by coimmunoprecipitation, 2-hybrid analysis, pull-down, and colocalization experiments. Purified EAP showed a histone H3 lysine 79-specific methylase activity, displayed a robust RNAPolII CTD kinase function, and counteracted the effect of the pTEFb inhibitor 5,6-dichloro-benzimidazole-riboside. In vivo, an ENL knock-down diminished genome-wide as well as gene-specific H3K79 dimethylation, reduced global run-on elongation, and inhibited transient transcriptional reporter activity. According to structure-function data, DOT1L recruitment was important for transformation by the MLL-ENL fusion derivative. These results suggest a function of ENL in histone modification and transcriptional elongation.
Project description:MLL-rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in infants (<1 year) is characterized by high relapse rates and a dismal prognosis. To facilitate the discovery of novel therapeutic targets, we here searched for genes directly influenced by the repression of various MLL fusions.For this, we performed gene expression profiling after siRNA-mediated repression of MLL-AF4, MLL-ENL, and AF4-MLL in MLL-rearranged ALL cell line models. The obtained results were compared with various already established gene signatures including those consisting of known MLL-AF4 target genes, or those associated with primary MLL-rearranged infant ALL samples.Genes that were down-regulated in response to the repression of MLL-AF4 and MLL-ENL appeared characteristically expressed in primary MLL-rearranged infant ALL samples, and often represented known MLL-AF4 targets genes. Genes that were up-regulated in response to the repression of MLL-AF4 and MLL-ENL often represented genes typically silenced by promoter hypermethylation in MLL-rearranged infant ALL. Genes that were affected in response to the repression of AF4-MLL showed significant enrichment in gene expression profiles associated with AF4-MLL expressing t(4;11)+ infant ALL patient samples.We conclude that the here identified genes readily responsive to the loss of MLL fusion expression potentially represent attractive therapeutic targets and may provide additional insights in MLL-rearranged acute leukemias.
Project description:Recurrent chromosomal translocations producing a chimaeric MLL oncogene give rise to a highly aggressive acute leukaemia associated with poor clinical outcome. The preferential involvement of chromatin-associated factors as MLL fusion partners belies a dependency on transcription control. Despite recent progress made in targeting chromatin regulators in cancer, available therapies for this well-characterized disease remain inadequate, prompting the need to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention. Here, using unbiased CRISPR-Cas9 technology to perform a genome-scale loss-of-function screen in an MLL-AF4-positive acute leukaemia cell line, we identify ENL as an unrecognized gene that is specifically required for proliferation in vitro and in vivo. To explain the mechanistic role of ENL in leukaemia pathogenesis and dynamic transcription control, a chemical genetic strategy was developed to achieve targeted protein degradation. Acute loss of ENL suppressed the initiation and elongation of RNA polymerase II at active genes genome-wide, with pronounced effects at genes featuring a disproportionate ENL load. Notably, an intact YEATS chromatin-reader domain was essential for ENL-dependent leukaemic growth. Overall, these findings identify a dependency factor in acute leukaemia and suggest a mechanistic rationale for disrupting the YEATS domain in disease.
Project description:The aim of this study was to better understand how mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) fusion proteins deregulate the expression of genes critical for leukemia.The transforming domain of one of the most common MLL fusion partners, AF9, was immunopurified after expression in myeloblastic M1 cells, and associating proteins were identified by mass spectrometric analysis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to determine how binding of associating proteins compare across Hoxa9 and Meis1 in cell lines with and without MLL fusion proteins and how binding is altered during gene down-regulation and differentiation.Consistent with earlier purifications of ENL and AF4 from 293 cells, the 90 amino acid C-terminal domain of AF9 associates with many other MLL translocation partners including Enl, Af4, Laf4, Af5q31, Ell, and Af10. This complex, termed elongation assisting proteins (EAPs), also contains the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain kinase Cdk9/Cyclin T1/T2 (pTEFb) and the histone H3 lysine 79 methyltransferase Dot1L. Myeloid cells transformed by MLL fusions show higher levels and a broader distribution of EAP components at genes critical for leukemia. Inhibition of EAP components pTEFb and Dot1l show that both contribute significantly to activation of Hoxa9 and Meis1 expression. EAP is dynamically associated with the Hoxa9 and Meis1 loci in hematopoietic cells and rapidly dissociates during induction of differentiation. In the presence of MLL fusion proteins, its dissociation is prevented.The findings suggest that MLL fusion proteins deregulate genes critical for leukemia by excessive recruitment and impaired dissociation of EAP from target loci.
Project description:MLL fusion proteins are oncogenic transcription factors that are associated with aggressive lymphoid and myeloid leukemias. We constructed an inducible MLL fusion, MLL-ENL-ERtm, that rendered the transcriptional and transforming properties of MLL-ENL strictly dependent on the presence of 4-hydroxy-tamoxifen. MLL-ENL-ERtm-immortalized hematopoietic cells required 4-hydroxy-tamoxifen for continuous growth and differentiated terminally upon tamoxifen withdrawal. Microarray analysis performed on these conditionally transformed cells revealed Hoxa9 and Hoxa7 as well as the Hox coregulators Meis1 and Pbx3 among the targets upregulated by MLL-ENL-ERtm. Overexpression of the Hox repressor Bmi-1 inhibited the growth-transforming activity of MLL-ENL. Moreover, the enforced expression of Hoxa9 in combination with Meis1 was sufficient to substitute for MLL-ENL-ERtm function and to maintain a state of continuous proliferation and differentiation arrest. These results suggest that MLL fusion proteins impose a reversible block on myeloid differentiation through aberrant activation of a limited set of homeobox genes and Hox coregulators that are consistently expressed in MLL-associated leukemias.
Project description:MLL-fusion proteins are potent inducers of cancer in hematopoietic cells, where they are known to cause changes in global gene expression. How MLL-fusion proteins interact with the genome has not been established, so we have limited understanding of the pathway by which these proteins generate aberrant gene expression programs. Here we describe how the MLL-AF4 protein occupies the genome in human leukemia cells and its striking effects on chromatin states. We find that the MLL-AF4 fusion protein selectively occupies regions of the genome that contain developmental regulatory genes important for hematopoietic stem cell identity and self-renewal. These MLL-AF4 bound regions have grossly altered chromatin structure, with histone modifications catalyzed by Trithorax Group (TrxG) proteins and Dot1 extending across unusually large domains. This indicates that a key feature of MLL-associated leukemogenesis is aberrant targeting of chromatin modifiers to regions of the genome controlling hematopoietic development. Our results define the direct targets of the MLL-fusion protein, reveal the global role of epigenetic misregulation in leukemia, and identify new targets for therapeutic intervention in human cancer. Keywords: cell type comparison This dataset includes expression data for two replicates each of SEM and REH leukemia cell lines and ChIP-chip data targeting RNAP2, H3K4me3, H3K79me2, ENL, AF4-C, and MLL-N in SEM and REH leukemia cell lines.