RUNX1 is required for oncogenic Myb and Myc enhancer activity in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

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Department of Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology; UMass Metabolic Network

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Biochemistry | Cell Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Molecular Biology


The gene encoding the RUNX1 transcription factor is mutated in a subset of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) patients, and RUNX1 mutations are associated with a poor prognosis. These mutations cluster in the DNA-binding Runt domain and are thought to represent loss-of-function mutations, indicating that RUNX1 suppresses T-cell transformation. RUNX1 has been proposed to have tumor suppressor roles in T-cell leukemia homeobox 1/3-transformed human T-ALL cell lines and NOTCH1 T-ALL mouse models. Yet, retroviral insertional mutagenesis screens identify RUNX genes as collaborating oncogenes in MYC-driven leukemia mouse models. To elucidate RUNX1 function(s) in leukemogenesis, we generated Tal1/Lmo2/Rosa26-CreER(T2)Runx1(f/f) mice and examined leukemia progression in the presence of vehicle or tamoxifen. We found that Runx1 deletion inhibits mouse leukemic growth in vivo and that RUNX silencing in human T-ALL cells triggers apoptosis. We demonstrate that a small molecule inhibitor, designed to interfere with CBFbeta binding to RUNX proteins, impairs the growth of human T-ALL cell lines and primary patient samples. We demonstrate that a RUNX1 deficiency alters the expression of a crucial subset of TAL1- and NOTCH1-regulated genes, including the MYB and MYC oncogenes, respectively. These studies provide genetic and pharmacologic evidence that RUNX1 has oncogenic roles and reveal RUNX1 as a novel therapeutic target in T-ALL.

DOI of Published Version



Blood. 2017 Oct 12;130(15):1722-1733. doi: 10.1182/blood-2017-03-775536. Epub 2017 Aug 8. Link to article on publisher's site

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