GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Cancer Biology


Cancer Biology

First Thesis Advisor

Michelle Kelliher


human acute myeloid leukemia, eukemogenesis, PLAGL2, Mpl signaling cascade, Leukemia, Myelocytic, Acute, DNA-Binding Proteins, Leukemia, Myeloid, Oncogene Proteins, Fusion, RNA-Binding Proteins, Transcription Factors


Chromosomal alterations involving the RUNXI or CBFB genes are specifically and recurrently associated with human acute myeloid leukemia (AML). One such chromosomal alteration, a pericentric inversion of chromosome 16, is present in the majority of cases of the AML subtype M4Eo. This inversion joins CBFB with the smooth muscle myosin gene MYH11 creating the fusion CBFB-MYH11. Knock-in studies in the mouse have demonstrated that expression of the protein product of the Cbfb-MYH11fusion, Cbfβ-SMMHC, predisposes mice to AML and that chemical mutagenesis both accelerates and increases the penetrance of the disease (Castilla et al., 1999). However, the mechanism of transformation and the associated collaborating genetic events remain to be resolved.

As detailed in Chapter 2, we used retroviral insertional mutagenesis (RIM) to identify mutations in Cbfb-MYH11 chimeric mice that contribute to AML. The genetic screen identified 54 independent candidate cooperating genes including 6 common insertion sites: Plag1, Plagl2, Runx2, H2T23, Pstpip2, and Dok1. Focusing on the 2 members of the Plag family of transcription factors, Chapter 3 presents experiments demonstrating that Plag1 and Plagl2 independently cooperate with Cbfβ-SMMHC in vivo to efficiently trigger leukemia with short latency in the mouse. In addition, Plag1 and PLAGL2 increased proliferation and in vitro cell renewal in Cbfβ-SMMHC hematopoietic progenitors. Furthemore, PLAG1 and PLAGL2 expression was increased in 20% of human AML samples suggesting that PLAG1 and PLAGL2 may also contribute to human AML. Interestingly, PLAGL2was preferentially increased in samples with chromosome 16 inversion, t(8;21), and t(15;17).

To define the mechanism by which PLAGL2 contributes to leukemogenesis, Chapter 4 presents studies assessing the role of the Mp1 signaling cascade as a Plagl2 downstream pathway in leukemia development. Using microarray analysis we discovered that PLAGL2 induces the expression of Mp1 transcript in primary bone marrow cells that express Cbfβ-SMMHC and that this induction is maintained in leukemogenesis. We have also performed luciferase assays to confirm that the Mp1 proximal promoter can be directly bound and activated by PLAGL2. Furthermore, we demonstrate increased Mp1 expression leads to hypersensitivity to the Mp1 ligand thrombopoietin (TPO) in PLAGL2/Cbfβ-SMMHC leukemic cells. To test the functional relevance in leukemia formation, we performed a bone-marrow transplantation assay and demonstrate that overexpression of Mp1 is indeed sufficient to cooperate with Cbfβ-SMMHC in leukemia induction. This data reveals that PLAGL2 cooperates with Cbfβ-SMMHC at least in part by inducing the expression of the cytokine receptor Mp1. Thus, we have identified the Mp1 signal transduction pathway as a novel target for therapeutic intervention in AML.



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