The leukemogenic t(8;21) fusion protein AML1-ETO controls rRNA genes and associates with nucleolar-organizing regions at mitotic chromosomes
Document Type Article
RUNX1/AML1 is required for definitive hematopoiesis and is frequently targeted by chromosomal translocations in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The t(8;21)-related AML1-ETO fusion protein blocks differentiation of myeloid progenitors. Here, we show by immunofluorescence microscopy that during interphase, endogenous AML1-ETO localizes to nuclear microenvironments distinct from those containing native RUNX1/AML1 protein. At mitosis, we clearly detect binding of AML1-ETO to nucleolar-organizing regions in AML-derived Kasumi-1 cells and binding of RUNX1/AML1 to the same regions in Jurkat cells. Both RUNX1/AML1 and AML1-ETO occupy ribosomal DNA repeats during interphase, as well as interact with the endogenous RNA Pol I transcription factor UBF1. Promoter cytosine methylation analysis indicates that RUNX1/AML1 binds to rDNA repeats that are more highly CpG methylated than those bound by AML1-ETO. Downregulation by RNA interference reveals that RUNX1/AML1 negatively regulates rDNA transcription, whereas AML1-ETO is a positive regulator in Kasumi-1 cells. Taken together, our findings identify a novel role for the leukemia-related AML1-ETO protein in epigenetic control of cell growth through upregulation of ribosomal gene transcription mediated by RNA Pol I, consistent with the hyper-proliferative phenotype of myeloid cells in AML patients.