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Journal Article

RUNX1 isoform disequilibrium promotes the development of trisomy 21 associated myeloid leukemia


Yaspo,  Marie-Laure       
Gene Regulation and Systems Biology of Cancer (Marie-Laure Yaspo), Independent Junior Research Groups (OWL), Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Max Planck Society;

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Gialesaki, S., Bräuer-Hartmann, D., Issa, H., Bhayadia, R., Alejo-Valle, O., Verboon, L., et al. (2022). RUNX1 isoform disequilibrium promotes the development of trisomy 21 associated myeloid leukemia. Blood, in press. doi:10.1182/blood.2022017619.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-6D6E-0
Gain of chromosome 21 (Hsa21) is among the most frequent aneuploidies in leukemia. However, it remains unclear how partial or complete amplifications of Hsa21 promote leukemogenesis and why children with Down syndrome (i.e. trisomy 21) are particularly at risk of leukemia development. Here, we propose that RUNX1 isoform disequilibrium with RUNX1A bias is key to Down syndrome-associated myeloid leukemia (ML-DS). Starting with Hsa21-focused CRISPR-Cas9 screens, we uncovered a strong and specific RUNX1 dependency in ML-DS cells. Expression of the RUNX1A isoform is elevated in ML-DS patients, and mechanistic studies using murine ML-DS models and patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) revealed that excess RUNX1A synergizes with the pathognomonic Gata1s mutation during leukemogenesis by displacing RUNX1C from its endogenous binding sites and inducing oncogenic programs in complex with the MYC cofactor MAX. These effects were reversed by restoring the RUNX1A:RUNX1C equilibrium in PDXs in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, pharmacological interference with MYC:MAX dimerization using MYCi361 exerted strong anti-leukemic effects. Thus, our study highlights the importance of alternative splicing in leukemogenesis, even on a background of aneuploidy, and paves the way for the development of specific and targeted therapies for ML-DS, as well as for other leukemias with Hsa21 aneuploidy or RUNX1 isoform disequilibrium.