Homing and invasiveness of MLL/ENL leukemic cells is regulated by MEF2C

M Schwieger, A Schuler, M Forster, A Engelmann, MA Arnold, Ruud Delwel, Peter Valk, J Lohler, RK Slany, EN Olson, C Stocking

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Acute myelogenous leukemia is driven by leukemic stem cells (LSCs) generated by mutations that confer (or maintain) self-renewal potential coupled to an aberrant differentiation program. Using retroviral mutagenesis, we identified genes that generate LSCs in collaboration with genetic disruption of the gene encoding interferon response factor 8 (Irf8), which induces a myeloproliferation in vivo. Among the targeted genes, we identified Mef2c, encoding a MCM1-agamousdeficiens-serum response factor transcription factor, and confirmed that overexpression induced a myelomonocytic leukemia in cooperation with Irf8 deficiency. Strikingly, several of the genes identified in our screen have been reported to be up-regulated in the mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) subtype. High MEF2C expression levels were confirmed in acute myelogenous leukemia patient samples with MLL gene disruptions, prompting an investigation of the causal interplay. Using a conditional mouse strain, we demonstrated that Mef2c deficiency does not impair the establishment or maintenance of LSCs generated in vitro by MLL/ENL fusion proteins; however, its loss led to compromised homing and invasiveness of the tumor cells. Mef2c-dependent targets included several genes encoding matrix metalloproteinases and chemokine ligands and receptors, providing a mechanistic link to increased homing and motility. Thus, MEF2C up-regulation may be responsible for the aggressive nature of this leukemia subtype. (Blood. 2009; 114: 2476-2488)
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)2476-2488
Number of pages13
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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  • EMC MM-02-41-03

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