AML1/ETO Expresssion in Myeloid Leukemia Cells Is Associated with Enhanced Growth-Inhibitory and P15/INK4b Demethylating Effects of 5-AZA-2′-Deoxycytidine. Conferences uri icon

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  • Abstract The chromosomal translocation (8;21) results in the expression of the chimeric transcription factor AML1/ETO, the most frequent fusion gene in acute myeloid leukemia. The AML1/ETO fusion protein acts as a transcriptional repressor by mediating epigenetic silencing through recruitment of histone deacetylases. Recently, it was shown that it also mediates gene silencing by associating with DNA methyltransferase (Dnmt). We therefore hypothesized that cells expressing AML1/ETO might be preferentially sensitive to the effects of an inhibitor of Dnmt activity, and might provide a superior model for in vitro demethylation and reactivation of the promoter of the p15/INK4b gene (encoding a negative regulator of the cell cycle) that is frequently methylated and silenced in AML and MDS. The 3 myeloid cell lines Kasumi-1 cells (AML1/ETO-positive), KG-1, and KG-1a (both AML1-ETO-negative) are all bearing a heavily methylated p15/INK4b promoter. They were treated with 50 – 1000 nM 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine (DAC) for three pulses of 24 hrs each. After 6 days, cell growth and viability were determined and FACS analysis performed after propidium iodide staining. Kasumi-1 showed the highest sensitivity to DAC treatment (growth inhibition at 500 nM DAC: Kasumi-1 74.28 %, KG-1 69.16 %, KG-1a 62.38 %). In addition, DAC treatment (500 nM) led to a stronger increase in the sub-G1 fraction in Kasumi-1 (30.46%) compared to KG-1a (20.84 %). Regional p15/INK4b promoter methylation was assessed quantitatively by bisulfite sequencing of ≤10 individual cloned alleles (containing 21 CpGs residues) for calculation of methylated CpG percentage. The p15/INK4b was highly methylated in all 3 cell lines (methylated CpGs Kasumi-1 95.2 %; KG-1 89.6 %; KG-1a 98.4 % ). In Kasumi-1 cells, treatment with DAC resulted in a striking, dose-dependent regional demethylation of the p15/INK4b promoter (demethylated CpGs at 200 nM of DAC: Kasumi-1 63.8 %, KG-1 48.9 %, KG-1a 9.3 %). No demethylating effect was achieved with equitoxic doses of cytarabine or melphalan. Effective demethylation of the p15/INK4b promoter was associated with p15/INK4b protein induction as determined by Western Blot. Simultaneous treatment with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) enhanced the effects of DAC treatment upon growth inhibition, but not upon p15/INK4b induction. U937 cells with ecdysone inducible AML1/ETO expression (Fliegauf et al, Oncogene 2004) were also treated with different doses of DAC. When AML1/ETO was induced, U937 cells showed a higher growth inhibition (U937 + AML1/ETO 38.6 %, U937 - AML1/ETO 18 % at 25 nM) and increase in Sub-G1 (U937 + AML1/ETO 18 %, U937 - AML1/ETO 10.55 % at 100 nM) after treatment with DAC. Our results imply that the growth-inhibitory and proapoptotic effect of DAC on leukemia cells is modulated by AML1/ETO protein (or its target genes). The greater accessibility of the p15/INK4b promoter to the demethylating effect of DAC in AML1/ETO expressing Kasumi-1 cells may also be due to differences in regional chromatin structure. With their differential sensitivity to DAC, the cell lines Kasumi-1 and KG-1a provide a model for the different responses of leukemic blasts to DAC.


  • Berg, Tobias
  • Abdelkarim, Mahmoud
  • Guo, Yalin
  • Fliegauf, Manfred
  • Lübbert, Michael

publication date

  • November 16, 2004

published in