Common chromatin structures at breakpoint cluster regions may lead to chromosomal translocations found in chronic and acute leukemias.
Strick Reiner,Zhang Yanming,Emmanuel Neelmini,Strissel Pamela L
The t(9;22) BCR/ABL fusion is associated with over 90% of chronic myelogenous and 25% of acute lymphocytic leukemia. Chromosome 11q23 translocations in acute myeloid and lymphoid leukemia cells demonstrate myeloid lymphoid leukemia (MLL) fusions with over 40 gene partners, like AF9 and AF4 on chromosomes 9 and 4, respectively. Therapy-related leukemia is associated with the above gene rearrangements following the treatment with topoisomerase II (topo II) inhibitors. BCR, ABL, MLL, AF9 and AF4 have defined patient breakpoint cluster regions. Chromatin structural elements including topo II and DNase I cleavage sites and scaffold attachment sites have previously been shown to closely associate with the MLL and AF9 breakpoint cluster regions, implicating these elements in non-homologous recombination (NHR). In this report, using cell lines and primary cells, chromatin structural elements were analyzed in BCR, ABL and AF4 and, for comparison, in MLL2, which is a homolog to MLL, but not associated with chromosome translocations. Topo II and DNase I cleavage sites associated with all breakpoint cluster regions, whereas SARs associated with ABL and AF4, but not with BCR. No close breakpoint clustering with the topo II/DNase I sites were observed; however, a statistically significant 5' or 3' distribution of patient breakpoints to the topo II DNase I sites was found, implicating DNA repair and exonucleases. Although MLL2 was expressed in all cell lines tested, except for the presence of one DNAse I site in the promoter, no other structural elements were found in MLL2. A NHR model presented demonstrates the importance of chromatin structure in chromosome translocations involved with leukemia.
Transcriptional inhibition of p53 by the MLL/MEN chimeric protein found in myeloid leukemia.
Maki K,Mitani K,Yamagata T,Kurokawa M,Kanda Y,Yazaki Y,Hirai H
The t(11;19)(q23;p13.1) translocation is frequently found in adult myeloid leukemia. In the MLL/MEN fusion protein generated by this translocation, most of the coding region of the MEN protein, an RNA polymerase II elongation factor, is fused to the N-terminal third of the MLL protein, a possible transcriptional regulator. However, the molecular mechanism of leukemogenesis by the fusion protein remains unclear. We investigated the effects of the fusion protein on p53 function using luciferase assays. Overexpression of the fusion protein suppressed the transactivation ability of p53. This negative effect of the fusion protein on p53 function was dependent on the region derived from MEN. Moreover, p53 coimmunoprecipitated with MLL/MEN as well as MEN, suggesting that the fusion protein binds to p53 through the MEN region. We found that MEN binding to p53 was mediated by its N-terminal region and repression of p53 transcriptional activity was mediated by its C-terminal region. We also found that these two functional regions were essential for the transformation of Rat1 cells mediated by MEN. Although we could not demonstrate a functional difference between MLL/MEN and MEN in this study, these data suggest that the MLL/MEN chimeric transcriptional regulator may exert its oncogenic activity by inhibiting the function of the p53 tumor-suppressor protein by binding to it. Our findings provide a novel insight into the leukemogenic mechanism exerted by the t(11;19)(q23;p13.1) translocation.
Identification of complex genomic breakpoint junctions in the t(9;11) MLL-AF9 fusion gene in acute leukemia.
Super H G,Strissel P L,Sobulo O M,Burian D,Reshmi S C,Roe B,Zeleznik-Le N J,Diaz M O,Rowley J D
Genes, chromosomes & cancer
The MLL gene at chromosome 11, band q23, is involved in translocations with as many as 40 different chromosomal bands. Virtually all breakpoints occur within an 8.3 kb BamHI fragment and result in 5' MLL fused to partner genes in a 5'-3' orientation. The translocation t(9;11)(p22;q23), which results in the fusion of MLL to AF9, is the most common of the 11q23 chromosomal abnormalities observed in de novo acute myeloid leukemia (AML), in therapy related leukemia (t-AML), and rarely in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). We have studied 24 patients with a t(9;11) and an MLL rearrangement, including 19 patients with AML, four with t-AML, and one with ALL. To understand the mechanisms of this illegitimate recombination, we cloned and sequenced the t(9;11) translocation breakpoint junctions on both derivative chromosomes from one AML patient and from the Mono Mac 6 (MM6) cell line, which was derived from a patient with AML. Two different complex junctions were noted. In the AML patient, both chromosome 11 and 9 breaks were staggered, occurred in Alu DNA sequences, and resulted in a 331 bp duplication. In the MM6 cell line, breaks in chromosomes 11 and 9 were also staggered, but, in contrast to the finding in the AML patient, the breaks did not involve Alu DNA sequences and resulted in a 664 bp deletion at the breakpoints. Using reverse transcriptase (RT-) PCR, we analyzed 11 patient samples, including the two just described, for MML-AF9 fusions. The fusion occurred in six of seven AML patients, two of two t-AML patients, one patient with ALL, and in the MM6 cell line. Interestingly, all of the breaks within the AF9 gene in AML patients occurred in the central AF9 exon, called Site A by others, whereas in the single ALL patient the breakpoint mapped to a more 3' region of the AF9 gene. Our data, when combined with those of others, suggest that the fusion point within the AF9 gene, and thus the amount of AF9 material included in the MLL-AF9 fusion gene product, may influence the phenotype of the resulting leukemia. This further supports the proposal that the MML translocation partner genes play a critical role in the leukemogenic process.
Solution structure of the nonmethyl-CpG-binding CXXC domain of the leukaemia-associated MLL histone methyltransferase.
Allen Mark D,Grummitt Charles G,Hilcenko Christine,Min Sandra Young,Tonkin Louise M,Johnson Christopher M,Freund Stefan M,Bycroft Mark,Warren Alan J
The EMBO journal
Methylation of CpG dinucleotides is the major epigenetic modification of mammalian genomes, critical for regulating chromatin structure and gene activity. The mixed-lineage leukaemia (MLL) CXXC domain selectively binds nonmethyl-CpG DNA, and is required for transformation by MLL fusion proteins that commonly arise from recurrent chromosomal translocations in infant and secondary treatment-related acute leukaemias. To elucidate the molecular basis of nonmethyl-CpG DNA recognition, we determined the structure of the human MLL CXXC domain by multidimensional NMR spectroscopy. The CXXC domain has a novel fold in which two zinc ions are each coordinated tetrahedrally by four conserved cysteine ligands provided by two CGXCXXC motifs and two distal cysteine residues. We have identified the CXXC domain DNA binding interface by means of chemical shift perturbation analysis, cross-saturation transfer and site-directed mutagenesis. In particular, we have shown that residues in an extended surface loop are in close contact with the DNA. These data provide a template for the design of specifically targeted therapeutics for poor prognosis MLL-associated leukaemias.
Cryptic splice site activation during RNA processing of MLL/AF4 chimeric transcripts in infants with t(4;11) positive ALL.
Divoky V,Trka J M,Watzinger F,Lion T
Co-expression of multiple variants of the MLL/AF4 fusion transcript is a common phenomenon in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with t(4;11)(q21;q23). Different transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms were found to contribute to the heterogeneity of the chimeric transcripts. Multiple splice variants are generated by utilizing alternative splice sites that result in the joining of different MLL-exons within the breakpoint cluster region to one of three exons in the AF4 fusion partner. To address the question of how splice site selection occurs during RNA processing, we investigated der(11) transcripts in 10 infants with t(4;11) positive ALL. Specific RT-PCR products were analyzed by Southern blot hybridization, SSCP, endonuclease digestion, cloning and sequencing. In patients co-expressing as many as six different chimeric mRNA species, activation of cryptic splice sites has been detected in MLL-exons 8 and 10. This led to the formation of four novel transcript variants, three of which maintained open reading frames (ORFs). Patients with cryptic donor site activation in MLL-exon 8 did not have any MLL-exon 8/AF4 transcripts using the authentic 5' splice site, although this site is 100% homologous to the consensus sequence. However, since MLL-exon 8 does not end in-phase, the use of the authentic splice site would result in loss of the ORF of the fusion message. The activated cryptic splicing sites are located in the vicinity of the polypurine stretches present in MLL-exons 8 and 10, which are known to function as splicing enhancers recognized by SR proteins. We postulate that both the nonsense-mediated decay eliminating correctly spliced MLL-exon 8/AF4 mRNAs and activation of suboptimal splicing sites contribute to the diversity of MLL/AF4 RNA species.
A novel AF9 breakpoint in MLL-AF9-positive acute monoblastic leukemia.
Alonso Cristina N,Longo Patricia L Rubio,Gallego Marta S,Medina Adriana,Felice María S
Pediatric blood & cancer
MLL-AF9 is the most frequent MLL rearrangement in childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and it may be also found in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) of patients younger than 1-year-old (infants). We report a novel AF9 breakpoint site, located between previously reported sites A and B, detected in an infant who was diagnosed with AML-FAB M5. The occurrence of this new breakpoint should be considered when designing RT-PCR assays for the screening of MLL abnormalities. The precise characterization of the MLL-AF9 transcript is important to carry out the minimal residual disease analysis during the follow-up of the patients.
BglII-based panhandle and reverse panhandle PCR approaches increase capability for cloning der(II) and der(other) genomic breakpoint junctions of MLL translocations.
Robinson Blaine W,Slater Diana J,Felix Carolyn A
Genes, chromosomes & cancer
Panhandle PCR techniques to amplify known sequence flanked by unknown sequence have been useful for MLL genomic breakpoint junctions and fusion transcripts because MLL has a large number of partner genes. However, genomic panhandle PCR approaches are impeded when the restriction fragment that contains the breakpoint junction is too large to amplify. We devised new panhandle PCR approaches for MLL genomic breakpoint junctions that create the template from BglII restriction fragments by attaching MLL sequence to a BglII site in the partner gene. This leads to the annealing of MLL and its complement in the handle and creates an intrastrand loop containing the breakpoint junction sequence for amplification with primers all from MLL. BglII panhandle PCR for der(11) breakpoint junctions was accomplished by ligating a phosphorylated oligonucleotide containing a BglII overhang and sequence complementary to MLL exon 7 to the 3' ends of BglII digested DNA, and forming the template from the sense strand of DNA. In BglII reverse panhandle PCR for der(other) breakpoint junctions, a phosphorylated oligonucleotide containing a BglII overhang and the complement of antisense sequence in MLL exon 10 was ligated to the 3' ends of BglII digested DNA, and the template was formed from the antisense strand of DNA. These approaches amplified 5'-MLL-MLLT4-3' and 5'-AFF1-MLL-3' breakpoint junctions. The former is significant because few t(6;11) genomic breakpoint junctions have been sequenced. BglII panhandle PCR approaches increase the possibilities for cloning MLL genomic breakpoint junctions where there is heterogeneity in partner genes and breakpoint locations.
A role for MEIS1 in MLL-fusion gene leukemia.
Kumar Ashish R,Li Quanzhi,Hudson Wendy A,Chen Weili,Sam Thien,Yao Qing,Lund Erik A,Wu Baolin,Kowal Branden J,Kersey John H
Leukemias with MLL rearrangements are characterized by high expression of the homeobox gene MEIS1. In these studies, we knocked down Meis1 expression by shRNA lentivirus transduction in murine Mll-AF9 leukemia cells. Meis1 knockdown resulted in decreased proliferation and survival of murine Mll-AF9 leukemia cells. We also observed reduced clonogenic capacity and increased monocytic differentiation. The establishment of leukemia in transplantation recipients was significantly delayed by Meis1 knockdown. Gene expression profiling of cells transduced with Meis1 shRNA showed reduced expression of genes associated with cell cycle entry and progression. shRNA-mediated knockdown of MEIS1 in human MLL-fusion gene leukemia cell lines resulted in reduced cell growth. These results show that MEIS1 expression is important for MLL-rearranged leukemias and suggest that MEIS1 promotes cell-cycle entry. Targeting MEIS1 may have therapeutic potential for treating leukemias expressing this transcription factor.
Molecular characterization of the MLL-SEPT6 fusion gene in acute myeloid leukemia: identification of novel fusion transcripts and cloning of genomic breakpoint junctions.
Cerveira Nuno,Micci Francesca,Santos Joana,Pinheiro Manuela,Correia Cecília,Lisboa Susana,Bizarro Susana,Norton Lucília,Glomstein Anders,Asberg Ann E,Heim Sverre,Teixeira Manuel R
One of the MLL fusion partners in leukemia is the SEPT6 gene, which belongs to the evolutionarily conserved family of genes of septins. In this work we aimed to characterize at both the RNA and DNA levels three acute myeloid leukemias with cytogenetic evidence of a rearrangement between 11q23 and Xq24. Molecular analysis led to the identification of several MLL-SEPT6 fusion transcripts in all cases, including a novel MLL-SEPT6 rearrangement (MLL exon 6 fused with SEPT6 exon 2). Genomic DNA breakpoints were found inside or near Alu or LINE repeats in the MLL breakpoint cluster region, whereas the breakpoint junctions in the SEPT6 intron 1 mapped to the vicinity of GC-rich low-complexity repeats, Alu repeats, and a topoisomerase II consensus cleavage site. These data suggest that a non-homologous end-joining repair mechanism may be involved in the generation of MLL-SEPT6 rearrangements in acute myeloid leukemia.