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A role for BMP-induced homeobox gene MIXL1 in acute myelogenous leukemia and identification of type I BMP receptor as a potential target for therapy.

  • Author(s): Raymond, Aaron;
  • Liu, Bin;
  • Liang, Hong;
  • Wei, Caimiao;
  • Guindani, Michele;
  • Lu, Yue;
  • Liang, Shoudan;
  • St John, Lisa S;
  • Molldrem, Jeff;
  • Nagarajan, Lalitha
  • et al.
Abstract

Mesoderm Inducer in Xenopus Like1 (MIXL1), a paired-type homeobox transcription factor induced by TGF-β family of ligands is required for early embryonic specification of mesoderm and endoderm. Retrovirally transduced Mixl1 is reported to induce acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) with a high penetrance. But the mechanistic underpinnings of MIXL1 mediated leukemogenesis are unknown. Here, we establish the protooncogene c-REL to be a transcriptional target of MIXL1 by genome wide chromatin immune precipitation. Accordingly, expression of c-REL and its downstream targets BCL2L1 and BCL2A2 are elevated in MIXL1 expressing cells. Notably, MIXL1 regulates c-REL through a zinc finger binding motif, potentially by a MIXL1-Zinc finger protein transcriptional complex. Furthermore, MIXL1 expression is detected in the cancer genome atlas (TCGA) AML samples in a pattern mutually exclusive from that of HOXA9, CDX2 and HLX suggesting the existence of a core, yet distinct HOX transcriptional program. Finally, we demonstrate MIXL1 to be induced by BMP4 and not TGF-β in primary human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Consequently, MIXL1 expressing AML cells are preferentially sensitive to the BMPR1 kinase inhibitor LDN-193189. These findings support the existence of a novel MIXL1-c REL mediated survival axis in AML that can be targeted by BMPR1 inhibitors. (MIXL1- human gene, Mixl1- mouse ortholog, MIXL1- protein).

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