MLL-AF9 and MLL-AF4 oncofusion proteins bind a distinct enhancer repertoire and target the RUNX1 program in 11q23 acute myeloid leukemia
In 11q23 leukemias, the N-terminal part of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene is fused to > 60 different partner genes. In order to define a core set of MLL rearranged targets, we investigated the genome-wide binding of the MLL-AF9 and MLL-AF4 fusion proteins and associated epigenetic signatures in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell lines THP-1 and MV4-11. We uncovered both common as well as specific MLL-AF9 and MLL-AF4 target genes, which were all marked by H3K79me2, H3K27ac and H3K4me3. Apart from promoter binding, we also identified MLL-AF9 and MLL-AF4 binding at specific subsets of non-overlapping active distal regulatory elements. Despite this differential enhancer binding, MLL-AF9 and MLL-AF4 still direct a common gene program, which represents part of the RUNX1 gene program and constitutes of CD34+ and monocyte-specific genes. Comparing these data sets identified several zinc finger transcription factors (TFs) as potential MLL-AF9 co-regulators. Together, these results suggest that MLL fusions collaborate with specific subsets of TFs to deregulate the RUNX1 gene program in 11q23 AMLs.