DNMT3A mutations mediate the epigenetic reactivation of the leukemogenic factor MEIS1 in acute myeloid leukemia

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Close to half of de novo acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cases do not exhibit any cytogenetic aberrations. In this regard, distortion of the DNA methylation setting and the presence of mutations in epigenetic modifier genes can also be molecular drivers of the disease. In recent years, somatic missense mutations of the DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) have been reported in ˜ 20% of AML patients; however, no obvious critical downstream gene has been identified that could explain the role of DNMT3A in the natural history of AML. Herein, using whole-genome bisulfite sequencing and DNA methylation microarrays, we have identified a key gene undergoing promoter hypomethylation-associated transcriptional reactivation in DNMT3 mutant patients, the leukemogenic HOX cofactor MEIS1. Our results indicate that, in the absence of mixed lineage leukemia fusions, an alternative pathway for engaging an oncogenic MEIS1-dependent transcriptional program can be mediated by DNMT3A mutations.

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