The CEBPA gene is mutated in 9% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Selective expression of a short (30-kDa) CCAAT-enhancer binding protein-α (C/EBPα) translational isoform, termed p30, represents the most common type of CEBPA mutation in AML. The molecular mechanisms underlying p30-mediated transformation remain incompletely understood. We show that C/EBPα p30, but not the normal p42 isoform, preferentially interacts with Wdr5, a key component of SET/MLL (SET-domain/mixed-lineage leukemia) histone-methyltransferase complexes. Accordingly, p30-bound genomic regions were enriched for MLL-dependent H3K4me3 marks. The p30-dependent increase in self-renewal and inhibition of myeloid differentiation required Wdr5, as downregulation of the latter inhibited proliferation and restored differentiation in p30-dependent AML models. OICR-9429 is a new small-molecule antagonist of the Wdr5-MLL interaction. This compound selectively inhibited proliferation and induced differentiation in p30-expressing human AML cells. Our data reveal the mechanism of p30-dependent transformation and establish the essential p30 cofactor Wdr5 as a therapeutic target in CEBPA-mutant AML.

dx.doi.org/10.1038/nchembio.1859, hdl.handle.net/1765/87251
Nature Chemical Biology
Department of Hematology

Grebien, F, Vedadi, M, Getlik, M, Giambruno, R, Grover, A, Avellino, R, … Superti-Furga, G. (2015). Pharmacological targeting of the Wdr5-MLL interaction in C/EBPα N-terminal leukemia. Nature Chemical Biology, 11(8), 571–578. doi:10.1038/nchembio.1859