Differentiation block in acute myeloid leukemia regulated by intronicsequences of FTO

Camera F. et al.

Iroquois transcription factor gene IRX3 is highly expressed in 20–30\% of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and contributes to the pathognomonic differentiation block. Intron 8 FTO sequences ∼220kB downstream of IRX3 exhibit histone acetylation, DNA methylation, and contacts with the IRX3 promoter, which correlate with IRX3 expression. Deletion of these intronic elements confirms a role in positively regulating IRX3. RNAseq revealed long non-coding (lnc) transcripts arising from this locus. FTO-lncAML knockdown (KD) induced differentiation of AML cells, loss of clonogenic activity, and reduced FTO intron 8:IRX3 promoter contacts. While both FTO-lncAML KD and IRX3 KD induced differentiation, FTO-lncAML but not IRX3 KD led to HOXA downregulation suggesting transcript activity in trans. FTO-lncAMLhigh AML samples expressed higher levels of HOXA and lower levels of differentiation genes. Thus, a regulatory module in FTO intron 8 consisting of clustered enhancer elements and a long non-coding RNA is active in human AML, impeding myeloid differentiation.

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August, 2023


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