The c-Myb transcription factor regulates the proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic cells, and activated alleles of c-myb induce leukemias and lymphomas in animals. Relatively minor changes in the structure of c-Myb protein change the genes that it regulates and can unleash its latent transforming activities. Here, quantitative assays were used to analyze the alternative splicing of human c-myb transcripts. We identified an array of variant transcripts, expressed in highly regulated, lineage-specific patterns, that were formed through the use of alternate exons 8A, 9A, 9B, 10A, 13A, and 14A. Expression levels of the different splice variant transcripts were regulated independently of one another during human hematopoietic cell differentiation, and the alternative splicing of c-myb mRNAs was increased in primary leukemia samples. The alternatively spliced c-myb transcripts were associated with polysomes and encoded a series of c-Myb proteins with identical DNA binding domains but unique C-terminal domains. In several types of assays, the variant c-Myb proteins exhibited quantitative and qualitative differences in transcriptional activities and specificities. The results suggest that the human c-myb gene encodes a family of related proteins with different transcriptional activities. Enhanced alternative splicing may be a mechanism for unmasking the transforming activity of c-myb in human leukemias.
c-Myb is expressed at high levels in immature progenitors of all the hematopoietic lineages. It is associated with the regulation of proliferation, differentiation and survival of erythroid, myeloid and lymphoid cells, but decreases during the terminal differentiation to mature blood cells. The cellular level of c-Myb is controlled by not only transcriptional regulation but also ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis. We recently reported that mouse c-Myb protein is controlled by ubiquitin-dependent degradation by SCF-Fbw7 E3 ligase via glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3)-mediated phosphorylation of Thr-572 in a Cdc4 phosphodegron (CPD)-dependent manner. However, this critical threonine residue is not conserved in human c-Myb. In this study, we investigated whether GSK3 is involved in the regulatory mechanism for human c-Myb expression.
Human c-Myb was degraded by ubiquitin-dependent degradation via SCF-Fbw7. Human Fbw7 ubiquitylated not only human c-Myb but also mouse c-Myb, whereas mouse Fbw7 ubiquitylated mouse c-Myb but not human c-Myb. Human Fbw7 mutants with mutations of arginine residues important for recognition of the CPD still ubiquitylated human c-Myb. These data strongly suggest that human Fbw7 ubiquitylates human c-Myb in a CPD-independent manner. Mutations of the putative GSK3 phosphorylation sites in human c-Myb did not affect the Fbw7-dependent ubiquitylation of human c-Myb. Neither chemical inhibitors nor a siRNA for GSK3β affected the stability of human c-Myb. However, depletion of GSK3β upregulated the transcription of human c-Myb, resulting in transcriptional suppression of γ-globin, one of the c-Myb target genes.
The present observations suggest that human Fbw7 ubiquitylates human c-Myb in a CPD-independent manner, whereas mouse Fbw7 ubiquitylates human c-Myb in a CPD-dependent manner. Moreover, GSK3 negatively regulates the transcriptional expression of human c-Myb but does not promote Fbw7-dependent degradation of human c-Myb protein. Inactivation of GSK3 as well as mutations of Fbw7 may be causes of the enhanced c-Myb expression observed in leukemia cells. We conclude that expression levels of human and mouse c-Myb are regulated via different mechanisms.
The proto-oncogenic protein c-Myb is an essential regulator of hematopoiesis and is frequently deregulated in hematological diseases such as lymphoma and leukemia. To gain insight into the mechanisms underlying the aberrant expression of c-Myb in myeloid leukemia, we analyzed and compared c-myb gene transcriptional regulation using two cell lines modeling normal hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) and transformed myelomonocytic blasts. We report that the transcription factors HoxA9, Meis1, Pbx1 and Pbx2 bind in vivo to the c-myb locus and maintain its expression through different mechanisms in HPCs and leukemic cells. Our analysis also points to a critical role for Pbx2 in deregulating c-myb expression in murine myeloid cells cotransformed by the cooperative activity of HoxA9 and Meis1. This effect is associated with an intronic positioning of epigenetic marks and RNA polymerase II binding in the orthologous region of a previously described alternative promoter for c-myb. Taken together, our results could provide a first hint to explain the abnormal expression of c-myb in leukemic cells.
c-myb; hematopoietic progenitors; myeloid leukemia; Hox and TALE proteins
The c-Myb transcription factor, a key regulator of proliferation and differentiation in hematopoietic and other cell types, has an N-terminal DNA binding domain and a large C-terminal domain responsible for transcriptional activation, negative regulation and determining target gene specificity. Overexpression and rearrangement of the c-myb gene (MYB) has been reported in some patients with leukemias and other types of cancers, implicating activated alleles of c-myb in the development of human tumors. Alternative RNA splicing can produce variants of c-myb with qualitatively distinct transcriptional activities that may be involved in transformation and leukemogenesis. Here, by performing a detailed, single molecule assay we found that c-myb alternative RNA splicing was elevated and much more complex in leukemia samples than in cell lines or CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells from normal donors. The results revealed that leukemia samples express more than 60 different c-myb splice variants, most of which have multiple alternative splicing events and were not detectable by conventional microarray or PCR approaches. For example, the single molecule assay detected 21 and 22 splice variants containing the 9B and 9S exons, respectively, most of which encoded unexpected variant forms of c-Myb protein. Furthermore, the detailed analysis identified some splice variants whose expression correlated with poor survival in a small cohort of precursor B-ALL samples. Our findings indicate that single molecule assays can reveal complexities in c-myb alternative splicing that have potential as novel biomarkers and could help explain the role of c-Myb variants in the development of human leukemia.
The c-myb proto-oncogene encodes two alternatively spliced mRNAs, which in turn code for proteins of 75 kDa and 89 kDa. It is at present unclear whether the two isoforms of c-Myb perform identical functions or whether they mediate different biological effects. To assess their role in apoptotic death of hematopoietic cells, we expressed the two isoforms of c-Myb in the murine myeloid cell lines 32Dcl3 and FDCP1. Our results show that while ectopic overexpression of p75 c-Myb results in the acceleration of cell death, similar overexpression of p89 c-Myb results in the protection of cells from apoptotic death. An analysis of gene expression changes with mouse cDNA expression arrays revealed that while p75 c-Myb blocked the expression of glutathione S-transferase μ mRNA, p89 c-Myb greatly enhanced the expression of this gene. These results were further confirmed by Northern blot analysis. Ectopic overexpression of the glutathione S-transferase μ gene in 32Dcl3 cells resulted in protection of cells from interleukin-3 withdrawal-induced cell death similar to that seen with the ectopic overexpression of p89 c-Myb. These results suggest that the two isoforms of c-Myb differentially regulate apoptotic death of myeloid cells through differential regulation of glutathione S-transferase μ gene expression.
The c-myb gene encodes two proteins, termed p75 and p89. Of these, the larger isoform is transcribed from an alternatively spliced message that contains an additional exon, exon 9A. Disruption of the c-myb locus in mice results in embryonic lethality due to defective hematopoiesis and in the adult, tissue-specific inactivation of c-myb in hematopoietic tissues blocks differentiation along several lineages. The c-myb knock-out mouse models described thus far result in the disruption of both the p75 and p89 isoforms, making it impossible to assign a definitive role to p89c-Myb in development and hematopoiesis. We have therefore generated a null-mutant mouse where exon 9A has been systemically deleted that results in the absence of only the p89-myb transcript and protein. Unlike disruption of both forms of the c-myb gene, loss of only the p89-encoding isoform does not have any deleterious effects on mammalian hematopoiesis and development.
c-Myb; hematopoiesis; p89; exon 9A; knock-out mice
An alternative splicing event in which a portion of the intron bounded by the vE6 and vE7 exons with v-myb homology is included as an additional 363-nucleotide coding exon (termed E6A or coding exon 9A) has been described for normal and tumor murine cells that express myb. We show here that this alternative splicing event is conserved in human c-myb transcripts. In addition, another novel exon (termed E7A or coding exon 10A) is identified in human c-myb mRNAs expressed in normal and tumor cells. Although the myb protein isoform encoded by murine E6A-containing mRNA is larger than the major c-myb protein, the predicted products of both forms of human alternatively spliced myb transcripts are 3'-truncated myb proteins that terminate in the alternative exons. These proteins are predicted to lack the same carboxy-terminal domains as the viral myb proteins encoded by avian myeloblastosis virus and E26 virus. The junction sequences that flank these exons closely resemble the consensus splice donor and splice acceptor sequences, yet the alternative transcripts are less abundant than is the major form of c-myb transcripts. The contribution that alternative splicing events in c-myb expression may make on c-myb function remains to be elucidated.
The v-myb oncogene of avian myeloblastosis virus transforms myeloid cells exclusively, both in vivo and in vitro. The c-myb proto-oncogene from which v-myb arose is expressed at relatively high levels in immature hematopoietic cells of the lymphoid, erythroid, and myeloid lineages but not in myeloblasts transformed by v-myb. This finding suggested that the nuclear v-myb gene product p48v-myb might act directly to inhibit the normal expression of the c-myb gene. I have therefore used a selectable avian retroviral vector to express p48v-myb in avian erythroblasts which normally express high levels of the c-myb gene product p75c-myb. The results demonstrate that p48v-myb and p75c-myb can be coexpressed in the nuclei of cloned cells. Therefore, p48v-myb does not invariably prevent the expression of p75c-myb.
To gain insight into the mechanisms by which the Myb transcription factor controls normal hematopoiesis and particularly, how it contributes to leukemogenesis, we mapped the genome-wide occupancy of Myb by chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-Seq) in ERMYB myeloid progenitor cells. By integrating the genome occupancy data with whole genome expression profiling data, we identified a Myb-regulated transcriptional program. Gene signatures for leukemia stem cells, normal hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells and myeloid development were overrepresented in 2368 Myb regulated genes. Of these, Myb bound directly near or within 793 genes. Myb directly activates some genes known critical in maintaining hematopoietic stem cells, such as Gfi1 and Cited2. Importantly, we also show that, despite being usually considered as a transactivator, Myb also functions to repress approximately half of its direct targets, including several key regulators of myeloid differentiation, such as Sfpi1 (also known as Pu.1), Runx1, Junb and Cebpb. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that interaction with p300, an established coactivator for Myb, is unexpectedly required for Myb-mediated transcriptional repression. We propose that the repression of the above mentioned key pro-differentiation factors may contribute essentially to Myb’s ability to suppress differentiation and promote self-renewal, thus maintaining progenitor cells in an undifferentiated state and promoting leukemic transformation.
The c-Myb transcription factor is an important regulator of hematopoietic cell development. c-Myb is expressed in immature hematopoietic cells and plays a direct role in lineage fate selection, cell cycle progression, and differentiation of myeloid as well as B- and T-lymphoid progenitor cells. As a DNA-binding transcription factor, c-Myb regulates specific gene programs through activation of target genes. Still, our understanding of these programs is incomplete. Here, we report a set of novel c-Myb target genes, identified using a combined approach: specific c-Myb knockdown by 2 different siRNAs and subsequent global expression profiling, combined with the confirmation of direct binding of c-Myb to the target promoters by ChIP assays. The combination of these 2 approaches, as well as additional validation such as cloning and testing the promoters in reporter assays, confirmed that MYADM, LMO2, GATA2, STAT5A, and IKZF1 are target genes of c-Myb. Additional studies, using chromosome conformation capture, demonstrated that c-Myb target genes may directly interact with each other, indicating that these genes may be coordinately regulated. Of the 5 novel target genes identified, 3 are transcription factors, and one is a transcriptional co-regulator, supporting a role of c-Myb as a master regulator controlling the expression of other transcriptional regulators in the hematopoietic system.
c-Myb; hematopoiesis; transcription factors; MYADM; LMO2; GATA2; STAT5A; IKZF1; 3C; chromosome conformation capture
The c-Myb transcription factor regulates differentiation and proliferation in hematopoietic cells, stem cells and epithelial cells. Although oncogenic versions of c-Myb were first associated with leukemias, over expression or rearrangement of the c-myb gene is common in several types of solid tumors, including breast cancers. Expression of the c-myb gene in human breast cancer cells is dependent on estrogen stimulation, but little is known about the activities of the c-Myb protein or what genes it regulates in estrogen-stimulated cells.
We used chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with whole genome promoter tiling microarrays to identify endogenous c-Myb target genes in human MCF-7 breast cancer cells and characterized the activity of c-Myb at a panel of target genes during different stages of estrogen deprivation and stimulation.
By using different antibodies and different growth conditions, the c-Myb protein was found associated with over 10,000 promoters in MCF-7 cells, including many genes that encode cell cycle regulators or transcription factors and more than 60 genes that encode microRNAs. Several previously identified c-Myb target genes were identified, including CCNB1, MYC and CXCR4 and novel targets such as JUN, KLF4, NANOG and SND1. By studying a panel of these targets to validate the results, we found that estradiol stimulation triggered the association of c-Myb with promoters and that association correlated with increased target gene expression. We studied one target gene, CXCR4, in detail, showing that c-Myb associated with the CXCR4 gene promoter and activated a CXCR4 reporter gene in transfection assays.
Our results show that c-Myb associates with a surprisingly large number of promoters in human cells. The results also suggest that estradiol stimulation leads to large-scale, genome-wide changes in c-Myb activity and subsequent changes in gene expression in human breast cancer cells.
Expression of c-Myb is required for normal hematopoiesis and for proliferation of myeloid leukemia blasts and a subset of T cell leukemia but its role in B-cell leukemogenesis is unknown.
We tested the role of c-Myb in p190BCR/ABL-dependent B-cell leukemia in mice transplanted with p190BCR/ABL-transduced marrow cells with a c-Myb allele (Mybf/d) and in double transgenic p190BCR/ABL/Mybw/d mice. In both models, loss of a c-Myb allele caused a less aggressive B-cell leukemia.
In p190BCR/ABL expressing human B-cell leukemia lines, knockdown of c-Myb expression suppressed proliferation and colony formation.
Compared to c-Mybw/f cells, expression of Bmi1, a regulator of stem cell proliferation and maintenance, was decreased in pre-B cells from Mybw/d p190BCR/ABL transgenic mice. Ectopic expression of a mutant c-Myb or Bmi1 enhanced the proliferation and colony formation of Mybw/d p190BCR/ABL B-cells; by contrast, Bmi1 downregulation inhibited colony formation of p190BCR/ABL-expressing murine B cells and human B-cell leukemia lines. Moreover, c-Myb interacted with a segment of the human Bmi1 promoter and enhanced its activity.
In blasts from nineteen Ph1 adult ALL patients, levels of c-Myb and Bmi1 showed a positive correlation. Together, these findings support the existence of a c-Myb-Bmi1 transcription regulatory pathway required for p190BCR/ABL leukemogenesis.
Oncogene; Transcription Factor; Stem Cells; Leukemia
The major protein encoded by the c-myb oncogene in many species has been identified as an unstable, nuclear DNA-binding protein with an apparent molecular mass of 75 to 80 kilodaltons (p75c-myb). Recently, an alternatively spliced form of c-myb-encoded mRNA has been identified in murine cells containing either normal or rearranged c-myb genes. This mRNA includes a new exon, termed E6A, formed through use of cryptic splice sites located in the large intron between c-myb exons vE6 and vE7. E6A is predicted to contribute an internal 121-residue in-frame insertion into a region C terminal of the DNA-binding domain the c-myb-encoded protein. Here we report the identification of an 85-kilodalton (p85c-myb-E6A) protein as the translation product of the alternatively spliced E6A c-myb mRNA. This protein as well as p75c-myb were precipitated with anti-Myb antibodies raised against the conserved DNA-binding region of c-Myb. Proteolytic mapping studies showed that the two proteins are highly related but not identical. However, only the p85 protein reacted with an antiserum prepared against the E6A region expressed in bacteria, demonstrating that p85 but not p75 contains E6A sequences. In addition, the mobilities of both p85 and p75 were increased in myeloid tumor cell lines containing proviral integrations upstream of the 5' coding exons of v-myb, indicating that both proteins are truncated forms of c-Myb expressed from the same disrupted allele. p75c-myb and p85c-myb-E6A were indistinguishable with respect to nuclear localization and protein half-life. Furthermore, both forms of Myb were synthesized continuously throughout the cell cycle in 70Z ore-B cells. The contribution of the E6A domain to c-myb function remains to be elucidated.
CRKL (CRK-Like) is an adapter protein predominantly phosphorylated in cells that express the tyrosine kinase p210BCR-ABL, the fusion product of a (9;22) chromosomal translocation causative for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It has been unclear, however, whether CRKL plays a functional role in p210BCR-ABL transformation. Here we show that CRKL is required for p210BCR-ABL to support IL-3-independent growth of myeloid progenitor cells and long-term outgrowth of B-lymphoid cells from fetal liver-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells. Furthermore, a synthetic phosphotyrosyl peptide that binds to the CRKL SH2 domain with high affinity blocks association of endogenous CRKL with the p210BCR-ABL complex and reduces c-MYC levels in K562 human leukemic cells as well as mouse hematopoietic cells transformed by p210BCR-ABL or the imatinib-resistant mutant T315I. These results indicate that the function of CRKL as an adapter protein is essential for p210BCR-ABL-induced transformation.
CRKL; BCR-ABL; c-MYC; Leukemia; STAT5
The c-myb proto-oncogene is abundantly expressed in tissues of hematopoietic origin, and changes in endogenous c-myb genes have been implicated in both human and murine hematopoietic tumors. c-myb encodes a DNA-binding protein capable of trans-activating the c-myc promoter. Suppression of both of these proto-oncogenes was shown to occur upon induction of terminal differentiation but not upon induction of growth inhibition in myeloid leukemia cells. Myeloblastic leukemia M1 cells that can be induced for terminal differentiation with the physiological hematopoietic inducers interleukin-6 and leukemia inhibitory factor were genetically manipulated to constitutively express a c-myb transgene. By using immediate-early to late genetic and morphological markers, it was shown that continuous expression of c-myb disrupts the genetic program of myeloid differentiation at a very early stage, which precedes the block previously shown to be exerted by deregulated c-myc, thereby indicating that the c-myb block is not mediated via deregulation of c-myc. Enforced c-myb expression also prevents the loss in leukemogenicity of M1 cells normally induced by interleukin-6 or leukemia inhibitory factor. Any changes which have taken place, including induction of myeloid differentiation primary response genes, eventually are reversed. Also, it was shown that suppression of c-myb, essential for terminal differentiation, is not intrinsic to growth inhibition. Taken together, these findings show that c-myb plays a key regulatory role in myeloid differentiation and substantiate the notion that deregulated expression of c-myb can play an important role in leukemogenicity.
c-myb is a frequent target of retroviral insertional mutagenesis in murine leukemia virus-induced myeloid leukemia. Induction of the leukemogenic phenotype is generally associated with inappropriate expression of this transcriptional regulator. Despite intensive investigations, the target genes of c-myb that are specifically involved in development of these myeloid lineage neoplasms are still unknown. In vitro assays have indicated that c-myc may be a target gene of c-Myb; however, regulation of the resident chromosomal gene has not yet been demonstrated. To address this question further, we analyzed the expression of c-myc in a myeloblastic cell line, M1, expressing a conditionally active c-Myb–estrogen receptor fusion protein (MybER). Activation of MybER both prevented the growth arrest induced by interleukin-6 (IL-6) and rapidly restored c-myc expression in nearly terminal differentiated cells that had been exposed to IL-6 for 3 days. Restoration occurred in the presence of a protein synthesis inhibitor but not after a transcriptional block, indicating that c-myc is a direct, transcriptionally regulated target of c-Myb. c-myc is a major target that transduces Myb's proliferative signal, as shown by the ability of a c-Myc–estrogen receptor fusion protein alone to also reverse growth arrest in this system. To investigate the possibility that this regulatory connection contributes to Myb's oncogenicity, we expressed a dominant negative Myb in the myeloid leukemic cell line RI-4-11. In this cell line, c-myb is activated by insertional mutagenesis and cannot be effectively down regulated by cytokine. Myb's ability to regulate c-myc's expression was also demonstrated in these cells, showing a mechanism through which the proto-oncogene c-myb can exert its oncogenic potential in myeloid lineage hematopoietic cells.
The transcription factor c-Myb is expressed in hematopoietic progenitor cells and other rapidly proliferating tissues, regulating genes important for proliferation, differentiation and survival. The DNA-binding domain (DBD) of c-Myb contains three tandemly arranged imperfect repeats, designated Myb domain R1, R2 and R3. The three-dimensional structure of the DBD shows that only the second and third Myb domains are directly involved in sequence-specific DNA-binding, while the R1 repeat does not contact DNA and only marginally affects DNA-binding properties. No structural information is available on the N-terminal 30 residues. Since deletion of the N-terminal region including R1 plays an important role in oncogenic activation of c-Myb, we asked whether this region confers properties beyond DNA-binding to the neighbouring c-Myb DBD.
Analysis of a putative RNA-binding function of c-Myb DBD revealed that poly(G) preferentially inhibited c-Myb DNA-binding. A strong sequence-selectivity was observed when different RNA polymers were compared. Most interesting, the poly(G) sensitivity was significantly larger for a protein containing the N-terminus and the R1-repeat than for the minimal DNA-binding domain.
Preferential inhibition of c-Myb DNA binding by poly(G) RNA suggests that c-Myb is able to interact with RNA in a sequence-selective manner. While R2 and R3, but not R1, are necessary for DNA-binding, R1 seems to have a distinct role in enhancing the RNA-sensitivity of c-Myb.
Small ubiquitin-related modifiers (SUMOs) are proteins that are posttranslationally conjugated to diverse proteins. The c-myb proto-oncogene product (c-Myb) regulates proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic cells. PIASy is the only known SUMO E3 ligase for c-Myb. Here, we report that TRAF7 binds to c-Myb and stimulates its sumoylation. TRAF7 bound to the DNA-binding domain of c-Myb via its WD40 repeats. TRAF7 has an E3 ubiquitin ligase activity for self-ubiquitination, but TRAF7 also stimulated the sumoylation of c-Myb at Lys-523 and Lys-499, which are the same sites as those used for PIASy-induced sumoylation. TRAF7 inhibited trans-activation induced by wild-type c-Myb, but not by the sumoylation site mutant of c-Myb. The expression of both c-myb and TRAF7 was down-regulated during differentiation of M1 cells. Endogenous TRAF7 localized to both the cytoplasm and nucleus of M1 cells. Consistent with this, significant amounts of sumoylated c-Myb were found in the cytoplasm of M1 cells, whereas nonsumoylated c-Myb was found predominantly in the nucleus. Overexpressed TRAF7 was localized in the cytoplasm of CV-1 cells, and sequestered c-Myb and SUMO1 in the cytosol, whereas PIASy was localized in the nucleus. Thus, TRAF7 negatively regulates c-Myb activity by sequestering c-Myb to the cytosol via sumoylation.
An alternatively spliced form of c-myb exists that encodes an additional 120 amino acids in chicken and 121 amino acids in human and mouse. These amino acids are encoded by an additional exon, termed exon 9A. This exon is not present in v-myb, and proteins containing these amino acids have never been tested for oncogenic transformation. A series of myb constructs was therefore created in order to compare the functions of Myb proteins on the basis of their inclusion or exclusion of the amino acids encoded by exon 9A (E9A). We found that the presence of E9A resulted in a robust increase in transactivation for full-length c-Myb (CCC), as well as the singly truncated derivatives dCC and CCd, while doubly truncated Myb proteins v-Myb (dVd) and dCd did not exhibit any differences in transactivation. The increase in transactivation requires the Myb DNA-binding domain. When the leukemic transformation by the Myb proteins was tested, it was found that cells transformed by dVd resembled monoblasts, while cells transformed by CCC and its derivatives, dCd, dCC, and CCd, resembled myelomonoblasts. Despite differences in the morphology of the hematopoietic cells, the cell surface phenotypes and cell cycle profiles of transformed cells did not change for each pair of Myb proteins in the presence or absence of E9A. Thus, there was no direct correlation between the level of transcriptional activation and the strength of leukemic transformation.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children. The current treatment protocol for ALL involves an intense chemotherapy regimen yielding cure rates of nearly 80%. However, new therapies need to be designed not only to increase the survival rate but also to combat the risk of severe therapy associated toxicities including secondary malignancies, growth problems, organ damage, and infertility. The c-Myb proto-oncogene is highly expressed in immature hematopoietic cells. In this study, we demonstrate that loss of c-Myb itself decreased the viability of these leukemic cells. Additionally, the inhibition of c-Myb caused a decrease in cell proliferation, significantly increased the number of cells in G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle, increased the sensitivity of pre-B-ALL cells to cytotoxic agents in vitro, and significantly delayed disease onset in a mouse model of leukemia. Furthermore, we demonstrate that Bcl-2 is a target of c-Myb in pre-B-ALL cells. Our results identify c-Myb as a potential therapeutic target in pre-B-ALL and suggest that suppression of c-Myb levels or activity, in combination with currently used therapies and/or dose reduction, may lead to a decrease in toxicity and an increase in patient survival rates. Because c-Myb is aberrantly expressed in several other malignancies, targeting c-Myb will have broad clinical applications.
The c-myb proto-oncogene product (c-Myb) regulates proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic cells. Recently we have shown that c-Myb is degraded in response to Wnt-1 stimulation via a pathway involving TAK1 (TGF-β-activated kinase), HIPK2 (homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2), and NLK (Nemo-like kinase). NLK and HIPK2 bind directly to c-Myb and phosphorylate c-Myb at multiple sites, inducing its ubiquitination and proteasome-dependent degradation. The mammalian myb gene family contains two members in addition to c-myb, A-myb, and B-myb. Here, we report that the Wnt-NLK pathway also inhibits A-Myb activity, but by a different mechanism. As in the case of c-Myb, both NLK and HIPK2 bound directly to A-Myb and inhibited its activity. NLK phosphorylated A-Myb, but did not induce A-Myb degradation. Overexpression of NLK inhibited the association between A-Myb and the coactivator CBP, thus, blocking A-Myb-induced trans-activation. The kinase activity of NLK is required for the efficient inhibition of the association between A-Myb and CBP, although the kinase-negative form of NLK also partly inhibits the interaction between A-Myb and CBP. Furthermore, NLK induced the methylation of histone H3 at lysine-9 at A-Myb-bound promoter regions. Thus, the Wnt-NLK pathway inhibits the activity of each Myb family member by different mechanisms.
The c-Myb transcription factor is required for normal adult hematopoiesis. However, the embryonic lethality of Myb null mutations has been an impediment to identifying roles for c-Myb during lymphocyte development. We have used tissue-specific inactivation of the Myb locus in early progenitor cells to demonstrate that c-Myb is absolutely required for the differentiation of CD19+ B-lineage cells and B cell differentiation is profoundly blocked beyond the pre-pro-B cell stage in Mybf/f Mb1-cre mice. We demonstrate that c-Myb is required for the intrinsic survival of CD19+ pro-B cells as well as the proper expression of the α-chain of the IL-7 receptor (CD127) and Ebf1. However, survival of c-Myb deficient CD19+ pro-B cells cannot be rescued by transduction with CD127 producing retrovirus suggesting that c-Myb controls a survival pathway independent of CD127. Furthermore, c-Myb deficient progenitor cells inefficiently generate CD19+ B-lineage cells during stromal cell culture but this process can be partially rescued with exogenous Ebf1. Thus, c-Myb does not appear to be required for commitment to B cell differentiation but is crucial for B cell differentiation to the CD19+ pro-B cell stage as well as survival of CD19+ pro-B cells. Surprisingly, forced c-Myb expression in LMPPs favors differentiation toward the myeloid lineage, suggesting that proper c-Myb expression is crucial for B-lineage development.
The nuclear proto-oncogene c-myb plays crucial roles in the growth, survival, and differentiation of hematopoietic cells. We established three lines of erythropoietin receptor-transgenic mice and found that one of them exhibited anemia, thrombocythemia, and splenomegaly. These abnormalities were independent of the function of the transgenic erythropoietin receptor and were observed exclusively in mice harboring the transgene homozygously, suggesting transgenic disruption of a certain gene. The transgene was inserted 77 kb upstream of the c-myb gene, and c-Myb expression was markedly decreased in megakaryocyte/erythrocyte lineage-restricted progenitors (MEPs) of the homozygous mutant mice. In the bone marrows and spleens of the mutant mice, numbers of megakaryocytes were increased and numbers of erythroid progenitors were decreased. These abnormalities were reproducible in vitro in a coculture assay of MEPs with OP9 cells but eliminated by the retroviral expression of c-Myb in MEPs. The erythroid/megakaryocytic abnormalities were reconstituted in mice in vivo by transplantation of mutant mouse bone marrow cells. These results demonstrate that the transgene insertion into the c-myb gene far upstream regulatory region affects the gene expression at the stage of MEPs, leading to an imbalance between erythroid and megakaryocytic cells, and suggest that c-Myb is an essential regulator of the erythroid-megakaryocytic lineage bifurcation.
The v-myb oncogene causes acute myelomonocytic leukemia in chickens and transforms avian myeloid cells in vitro. Its product, p48v-myb, is a short-lived nuclear protein which binds DNA. We demonstrate that p48v-myb can function as a trans activator of gene expression in transient DNA transfection assays. trans activation requires the highly conserved amino-terminal DNA-binding domain and the less highly conserved carboxyl-terminal domain of p48v-myb, both of which are required for transformation. Multiple copies of a consensus sequence for DNA binding by p48v-myb inserted upstream of a herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase promoter are strongly stimulatory for transcriptional activation by a v-myb-VP16 fusion protein but not by p48v-myb itself, suggesting that the binding of p48v-myb to DNA may not be sufficient for trans activation.
Two modes of disruption of the protooncogene c-myb by viral insertional mutagenesis in mouse myeloid tumor cells are described. The first mode was found in six tumors in which a Moloney murine leukemia virus component had inserted in the same transcriptional orientation upstream of the 5'-most exon with v-myb homology (vE1). cDNA sequence data indicate the presence of a truncated c-myb mRNA that is initiated in the upstream 5' long terminal repeat of the integrated provirus and processed via a cryptic splice donor sequence in the gag region to the splice acceptor site in vE1 of the c-myb gene, thus removing the remaining downstream viral and myb intronic sequences. Unlike most gag-onc transcripts, the gag and myb sequences in the hybrid transcript were not in the same reading frame. It is presumed that the gag sequence provides a cryptic translation initiation site for the novel amino-truncated c-myb protein. The second mode of disruption was by downstream virus insertion at the 3' side of the c-myb, which results in the synthesis of a small (approximately 2 kilobase) myb transcript. The 5' long terminal repeat of the inserted provirus provides a TGA termination codon that results in the elimination of 240 normal c-myb amino acid residues from the carboxyl terminus of the tumor-specific myb protein. These results suggest that truncated myb proteins play a role in neoplastic transformation of myeloid cells.