Rearrangements of the AMLHCBFA2 gene in myeloid leukemia with the 3;21 translocation: In vitro and in vivo studies

C. Zent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


AML1 is involved at the breakpoint of chromosome 21 band q22 in several recurring chromosomal translocations associated with myeloid and lymphoid leukemias. AML1 corresponds to CBFA2, and encodes one of the DNA-binding subunits of the enhancer core binding factor CBF. Other members of this family of DNA-binding proteins are CBFA1 and CBFA3, also known as AML3 and AML2. The three proteins are characterized by a highly conserved domain (runt domain, >90% homology) at the amino end that is necessary for DNA-binding and protein dimerization, and by a unique domain at the carboxyl end that is necessary for transactivation. Two recurring chromosomal translocations involving AMLI associated with myeloid leukemias are the t(8;21)(q22;q22), seen in 20% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) M2, and the t(3;21)(q26; q22), that occurs in myeloid leukemias primarily following treatment with topoisomerase II inhibitors. In five patients with a t(3;21) whom we studied, AML1 is interrupted by the translocation breakpoint between the runt domain and the transactivation domain, and is fused to two genes on chromosome band 3q26: EAP, which encodes the ribosomal protein L22, and MDS1, which encodes a small polypeptide of unknown function. In one of the five patients we studied, a fusion with a third gene EVII also occurs. The fusion of EAP to AML1 is not in frame, and leads to a protein that is terminated shortly after the fusion junction by introduction of a stop codon. The fusion of AML1 to MDS1 is in frame, and adds 127 codons to the interrupted AML1. Thus, in the five cases that we studied, the 3;21 translocation results in expression of two coexisting chimeric mRNAs which contain the identical runt domain at the 5′ region, but differ in the 3′ region. In addition, the chimeric junction AML1/MDSI/EVI1 has been detected in cells from one of our patients with the 3;21 translocation. Several genes necessary for myeloid lineage differentiation contain the target sequence for AML in their regulatory regions. We have compared the normal AML1 to AML1/MDS1 and AML1/EAP as transcriptional regulators of the CSF1R promoter which contains the CBF target sequence. Our results indicate that whereas the normal AML1 can activate the promoter, the chimeric proteins compete with the normal AML1 and repress expression from the CSF1R promoter. To determine the role of the chimeric proteins in cell growth, we expressed their cDNA in rat fibroblasts. When either fusion gene is expressed, the cells lose contact inhibition and form foci over the monolayer. However, only cells expressing AML1/MDS1 grow as large tumors in nude mice. Thus, although both chimeric genes have similar effects in transactivation of the CSF1R promoter, they affect cell growth as tumor promoters differently in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-278
Number of pages6
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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