MLL-AF4 and a murinized pSer-variant thereof are turning on thenucleolar stress pathway.

Siemund Anna Lena and Hanewald Thomas and Kowarz Eric andMarschalek Rolf

BACKGROUND: Recent pathomolecular studies on the MLL-AF4 fusion protein revealed that the murinized version of MLL-AF4, the MLL-Af4 fusion protein, was able to induce leukemia when expressed in murine or human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (Lin et al. in Cancer Cell 30:737-749, 2016). In parallel, a group from Japan demonstrated that the pSer domain of the AF4 protein, as well as the pSer domain of the MLL-AF4 fusion is able to bind the Pol I transcription factor complex SL1 (Okuda et al. in Nat Commun 6:8869, 2015). Here, we investigated the human MLL-AF4 and a pSer-murinized version thereof for their functional properties in mammalian cells. Gene expression profiling studies were complemented by intracellular localization studies and functional experiments concerning their biological activities in the nucleolus. RESULTS: Based on our results, we have to conclude that MLL-AF4 is predominantly localizing inside the nucleolus, thereby interfering with Pol I transcription and ribosome biogenesis. The murinized pSer-variant is localizing more to the nucleus, which may suggest a different biological behavior. Of note, AF4-MLL seems to cooperate at the molecular level with MLL-AF4 to steer target gene transcription, but not with the pSer-murinized version of it. CONCLUSION: This study provides new insights and a molecular explanation for the described differences between hMLL-hAF4 (not leukemogenic) and hMLL-mAf4 (leukemogenic). While the human pSer domain is able to efficiently recruit the SL1 transcription factor complex, the murine counterpart seems to be not. This has several consequences for our understanding of t(4;11) leukemia which is the most frequent leukemia in infants, childhood and adults suffering from MLL-r acute leukemia.


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April, 2022


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