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1.  The DEK oncoprotein binds to highly and ubiquitously expressed genes with a dual role in their transcriptional regulation 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13(1):215.
The DEK gene is highly expressed in a wide range of cancer cells, and a recurrent translocation partner in acute myeloid leukemia. While DEK has been identified as one of the most abundant proteins in human chromatin, its function and binding properties are not fully understood.
We performed ChIP-seq analysis in the myeloid cell line U937 and coupled it with epigenetic and gene expression analysis to explore the genome-wide binding pattern of DEK and its role in gene regulation.
We show that DEK preferentially binds to open chromatin, with a low degree of DNA methylation and scarce in the heterochromatin marker H3K9me3 but rich in the euchromatin marks H3K4me2/3, H3K27ac and H3K9ac. More specifically, DEK binding is predominantly located at the transcription start sites of highly transcribed genes and a comparative analysis with previously established transcription factor binding patterns shows a similarity with that of RNA polymerase II. Further bioinformatic analysis demonstrates that DEK mainly binds to genes that are ubiquitously expressed across tissues. The functional significance of DEK binding was demonstrated by knockdown of DEK by shRNA, resulting in both significant upregulation and downregulation of DEK-bound genes.
We find that DEK binds to transcription start sites with a dual role in activation and repression of highly and ubiquitously expressed genes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-215) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4175287  PMID: 25216995
DEK; DEK-NUP214; ChIP-seq; shRNA; Gene expression; Euchromatin; Heterochromatin; Histone modifications; RNA polymerase II
2.  Forced expression of the DEK-NUP214 fusion protein promotes proliferation dependent on upregulation of mTOR 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:440.
The t(6;9)(p23;q34) chromosomal translocation is found in 1% of acute myeloid leukemia and encodes the fusion protein DEK-NUP214 (formerly DEK-CAN) with largely uncharacterized functions.
We expressed DEK-NUP214 in the myeloid cell lines U937 and PL-21 and studied the effects on cellular functions.
In this study, we demonstrate that expression of DEK-NUP214 increases cellular proliferation. Western blot analysis revealed elevated levels of one of the key proteins regulating proliferation, the mechanistic target of rapamycin, mTOR. This conferred increased mTORC1 but not mTORC2 activity, as determined by the phosphorylation of their substrates, p70 S6 kinase and Akt. The functional importance of the mTOR upregulation was determined by assaying the downstream cellular processes; protein synthesis and glucose metabolism. A global translation assay revealed a substantial increase in the translation rate and a metabolic assay detected a shift from glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation, as determined by a reduction in lactate production without a concomitant decrease in glucose consumption. Both these effects are in concordance with increased mTORC1 activity. Treatment with the mTORC1 inhibitor everolimus (RAD001) selectively reversed the DEK-NUP214-induced proliferation, demonstrating that the effect is mTOR-dependent.
Our study shows that the DEK-NUP214 fusion gene increases proliferation by upregulation of mTOR, suggesting that patients with leukemias carrying DEK-NUP214 may benefit from treatment with mTOR inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3849736  PMID: 24073922
Acute myeloid leukemia; DEK-NUP214; DEK-CAN; Fusion gene; Proliferation; mTOR; Everolimus
3.  The Transcriptional Co-Repressor Myeloid Translocation Gene 16 Inhibits Glycolysis and Stimulates Mitochondrial Respiration 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68502.
The myeloid translocation gene 16 product MTG16 is found in multiple transcription factor–containing complexes as a regulator of gene expression implicated in development and tumorigenesis. A stable Tet-On system for doxycycline–dependent expression of MTG16 was established in B-lymphoblastoid Raji cells to unravel its molecular functions in transformed cells. A noticeable finding was that expression of certain genes involved in tumor cell metabolism including 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase 3 and 4 (PFKFB3 and PFKFB4), and pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase isoenzyme 1 (PDK1) was rapidly diminished when MTG16 was expressed. Furthermore, hypoxia–stimulated production of PFKFB3, PFKFB4 and PDK1 was inhibited by MTG16 expression. The genes in question encode key regulators of glycolysis and its coupling to mitochondrial metabolism and are commonly found to be overexpressed in transformed cells. The MTG16 Nervy Homology Region 2 (NHR2) oligomerization domain and the NHR3 protein–protein interaction domain were required intact for inhibition of PFKFB3, PFKFB4 and PDK1 expression to occur. Expression of MTG16 reduced glycolytic metabolism while mitochondrial respiration and formation of reactive oxygen species increased. The metabolic changes were paralleled by increased phosphorylation of mitogen–activated protein kinases, reduced levels of amino acids and inhibition of proliferation with a decreased fraction of cells in S-phase. Overall, our findings show that MTG16 can serve as a brake on glycolysis, a stimulator of mitochondrial respiration and an inhibitor of cell proliferation. Hence, elevation of MTG16 might have anti–tumor effect.
PMCID: PMC3698176  PMID: 23840896
4.  Lentivirus-Induced Dendritic Cells for Immunization Against High-Risk WT1+ Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Human Gene Therapy  2013;24(2):220-237.
Wilms' tumor 1 antigen (WT1) is overexpressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a high-risk neoplasm warranting development of novel immunotherapeutic approaches. Unfortunately, clinical immunotherapeutic use of WT1 peptides against AML has been inconclusive. With the rationale of stimulating multiantigenic responses against WT1, we genetically programmed long-lasting dendritic cells capable of producing and processing endogenous WT1 epitopes. A tricistronic lentiviral vector co-expressing a truncated form of WT1 (lacking the DNA-binding domain), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and interleukin-4 (IL-4) was used to transduce human monocytes ex vivo. Overnight transduction induced self-differentiation of monocytes into immunophenotypically stable “SmartDC/tWT1” (GM-CSF+, IL-4+, tWT1+, IL-6+, IL-8+, TNF-α+, MCP-1+, HLA-DR+, CD86+, CCR2+, CCR5+) that were viable for 3 weeks in vitro. SmartDC/tWT1 were produced with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) obtained from an FLT3-ITD+ AML patient and surplus material from a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) and used to expand CD8+ T cells in vitro. Expanded cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) showed antigen-specific reactivity against WT1 and against WT1+ leukemia cells. SmartDC/tWT1 injected s.c. into Nod.Rag1−/−.IL2rγc−/− mice were viable in vivo for more than three weeks. Migration of human T cells (huCTLs) to the immunization site was demonstrated following adoptive transfer of huCTLs into mice immunized with SmartDC/tWT1. Furthermore, SmartDC/tWT1 immunization plus adoptive transfer of T cells reactive against WT1 into mice resulted in growth arrest of a WT1+ tumor. Gene array analyses of SmartDC/tWT1 demonstrated upregulation of several genes related to innate immunity. Thus, SmartDC/tWT1 can be produced in a single day of ex vivo gene transfer, are highly viable in vivo, and have great potential for use as immunotherapy against malignant transformation overexpressing WT1.
Sundarasetty and colleagues generate long-lasting, self-differentiated myeloid-derived antigen-presenting cells reactive against tumors (SmartDC) expressing a truncated form of Wilms' tumor 1 antigen (tWT1). SmartDC/tWT1 generated from a patient with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) efficiently stimulated expansion and activation of anti-WT1 cytotoxic responses against primary blasts obtained from the patient. SmartDC/tWT1 injected into a mouse model of adoptive T cell transfer remained viable in vivo for more than 3 weeks, and it was capable of attracting cytotoxic T cells.
PMCID: PMC3696945  PMID: 23311414
5.  Stat1 activation attenuates IL-6 induced Stat3 activity but does not alter apoptosis sensitivity in multiple myeloma 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:318.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is at present an incurable malignancy, characterized by apoptosis-resistant tumor cells. Interferon (IFN) treatment sensitizes MM cells to Fas-induced apoptosis and is associated with an increased activation of Signal transducer and activator of transcription (Stat)1. The role of Stat1 in MM has not been elucidated, but Stat1 has in several studies been ascribed a pro-apoptotic role. Conversely, IL-6 induction of Stat3 is known to confer resistance to apoptosis in MM.
To delineate the role of Stat1 in IFN mediated sensitization to apoptosis, sub-lines of the U-266-1970 MM cell line with a stable expression of the active mutant Stat1C were utilized. The influence of Stat1C constitutive transcriptional activation on endogenous Stat3 expression and activation, and the expression of apoptosis-related genes were analyzed. To determine whether Stat1 alone would be an important determinant in sensitizing MM cells to apoptosis, the U-266-1970-Stat1C cell line and control cells were exposed to high throughput compound screening (HTS).
To explore the role of Stat1 in IFN mediated apoptosis sensitization of MM, we established sublines of the MM cell line U-266-1970 constitutively expressing the active mutant Stat1C. We found that constitutive nuclear localization and transcriptional activity of Stat1 was associated with an attenuation of IL-6-induced Stat3 activation and up-regulation of mRNA for the pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein family genes Harakiri, the short form of Mcl-1 and Noxa. However, Stat1 activation alone was not sufficient to sensitize cells to Fas-induced apoptosis. In a screening of > 3000 compounds including bortezomib, dexamethasone, etoposide, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), geldanamycin (17-AAG), doxorubicin and thalidomide, we found that the drug response and IC50 in cells constitutively expressing active Stat1 was mainly unaltered.
We conclude that Stat1 alters IL-6 induced Stat3 activity and the expression of pro-apoptotic genes. However, this shift alone is not sufficient to alter apoptosis sensitivity in MM cells, suggesting that Stat1 independent pathways are operative in IFN mediated apoptosis sensitization.
PMCID: PMC3488543  PMID: 22838736
Hematopoetic malignancies; Multiple myeloma; Apoptosis; IFN; Stat1; Stat3; Drug sensitivity
6.  The leukemia associated nuclear corepressor ETO homologue genes MTG16 and MTGR1 are regulated differently in hematopoietic cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2012;13:11.
MTG16, MTGR1 and ETO are nuclear transcriptional corepressors of the human ETO protein family. MTG16 is implicated in hematopoietic development and in controlling erythropoiesis/megakaryopoiesis. Furthermore, ETO homologue genes are 3'participants in leukemia fusions generated by chromosomal translocations responsible of hematopoietic dysregulation. We tried to identify structural and functional promoter elements of MTG16 and MTGR1 genes in order to find associations between their regulation and hematopoiesis.
5' deletion examinations and luciferase reporter gene studies indicated that a 492 bp sequence upstream of the transcription start site is essential for transcriptional activity by the MTG16 promoter. The TATA- and CCAAT-less promoter with a GC box close to the start site showed strong reporter activity when examined in erythroid/megakaryocytic cells. Mutation of an evolutionary conserved GATA -301 consensus binding site repressed promoter function. Furthermore, results from in vitro antibody-enhanced electrophoretic mobility shift assay and in vivo chromatin immunoprecipitation indicated binding of GATA-1 to the GATA -301 site. A role of GATA-1 was also supported by transfection of small interfering RNA, which diminished MTG16 expression. Furthermore, expression of the transcription factor HERP2, which represses GATA-1, produced strong inhibition of the MTG16 promoter reporter consistent with a role of GATA-1 in transcriptional activation. The TATA-less and CCAAT-less MTGR1 promoter retained most of the transcriptional activity within a -308 to -207 bp region with a GC-box-rich sequence containing multiple SP1 binding sites reminiscent of a housekeeping gene with constitutive expression. However, mutations of individual SP1 binding sites did not repress promoter function; multiple active SP1 binding sites may be required to safeguard constitutive MTGR1 transcriptional activity. The observed repression of MTG16/MTGR1 promoters by the leukemia associated AML1-ETO fusion gene may have a role in hematopoietic dysfunction of leukemia.
An evolutionary conserved GATA binding site is critical in transcriptional regulation of the MTG16 promoter. In contrast, the MTGR1 gene depends on a GC-box-rich sequence for transcriptional regulation and possible ubiquitous expression. Our results demonstrate that the ETO homologue promoters are regulated differently consistent with hematopoietic cell-type- specific expression and function.
PMCID: PMC3364894  PMID: 22443175
7.  The leukemia associated ETO nuclear repressor gene is regulated by the GATA-1 transcription factor in erythroid/megakaryocytic cells 
BMC Molecular Biology  2010;11:38.
The Eight-Twenty-One (ETO) nuclear co-repressor gene belongs to the ETO homologue family also containing Myeloid Translocation Gene on chromosome 16 (MTG16) and myeloid translocation Gene-Related protein 1 (MTGR1). By chromosomal translocations ETO and MTG16 become parts of fusion proteins characteristic of morphological variants of acute myeloid leukemia. Normal functions of ETO homologues have as yet not been examined. The goal of this work was to identify structural and functional promoter elements upstream of the coding sequence of the ETO gene in order to explore lineage-specific hematopoietic expression and get hints to function.
A putative proximal ETO promoter was identified within 411 bp upstream of the transcription start site. Strong ETO promoter activity was specifically observed upon transfection of a promoter reporter construct into erythroid/megakaryocytic cells, which have endogeneous ETO gene activity. An evolutionary conserved region of 228 bp revealed potential cis-elements involved in transcription of ETO. Disruption of the evolutionary conserved GATA -636 consensus binding site repressed transactivation and disruption of the ETS1 -705 consensus binding site enhanced activity of the ETO promoter. The promoter was stimulated by overexpression of GATA-1 into erythroid/megakaryocytic cells. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay with erythroid/megakaryocytic cells showed specific binding of GATA-1 to the GATA -636 site. Furthermore, results from chromatin immunoprecipitation showed GATA-1 binding in vivo to the conserved region of the ETO promoter containing the -636 site. The results suggest that the GATA -636 site may have a role in activation of the ETO gene activity in cells with erythroid/megakaryocytic potential. Leukemia associated AML1-ETO strongly suppressed an ETO promoter reporter in erythroid/megakaryocytic cells.
We demonstrate that the GATA-1 transcription factor binds and transactivates the ETO proximal promoter in an erythroid/megakaryocytic-specific manner. Thus, trans-acting factors that are essential in erythroid/megakaryocytic differentiation govern ETO expression.
PMCID: PMC2882371  PMID: 20487545

Results 1-7 (7)