The balanced chromosomal translocation t(10;11)(p13;q14) results in the CALM/AF10 fusion gene. This translocation is found in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) and malignant lymphoma. The CALM/AF10 fusion gene has recently been shown to cause an aggressive biphenotypic leukemia in a murine bone marrow transplant model. The CALM (Clathrin Assembly Lymphoid Myeloid leukemia gene) gene product is a clathrin assembly protein which plays a role in clathrin mediated endocytosis and trans Golgi network trafficking. AF10 is a putative transcription factor most likely involved in processes related to chromatin organization and has polycomb group gene like properties.
To learn more about the function of the CALM/AF10 fusion protein, we searched for protein interaction partners of CALM. In a yeast two hybrid screen the four and a half LIM domain protein FHL2 was identified as putative CALM interacting partner. The CALM FHL2 interaction was confirmed by co-transformation assay in yeast and by GST-pulldown experiments. The FHL2 interaction domain of CALM was mapped to amino acids 294 to 335 of CALM using the yeast two hybrid assay. In co-localization studies with transiently expressed fluorescent protein tagged CALM and FHL2, both proteins showed cytoplasmatic localization. Expression analysis (Affymetrix based) in different AML subtypes showed a significantly higher expression of FHL2 in AML with complex aberrant karyotypes compared to AML with normal karyotypes or balanced chromosomal translocations like the t(8;21), inv(16) or t(15;17).
FHL2, which is also known as DRAL (downregulated in rhabdomyosarcoma LIM protein), is a TP53 responsive gene known to interact with numerous proteins in both the nucleus and the cytoplasm and can function as a transcriptional cofactor. Known FHL2 interactors include TP53, BRCA1, PLZF (promyelocytic leukemia zinc finger protein), the proto-oncogene SKI1 and beta-catenin. High expression of FHL2 in breast cancer has recently been shown to be associated with an adverse prognosis. CALM has been shown to shuttle between the nucleus and the cytoplasm because inhibition of CREM-mediated nuclear export by leptomycin B leads to the accumulation of CALM in the nucleus. Reporter gene assays using a GAL4-DNA binding domain CALM fusion protein and a GAL4 responsive luciferase reporter were able to demonstrate a transcriptional activation function of CALM. We are currently investigation the effect of FHL2 co-expression on this aspect of the CALM function.
It is thus conceivable that FHL2 is playing an important role in CALM/AF10-mediated leukemogenesis by tethering the CALM/AF10 fusion protein to various nuclear transcription factor complexes.
Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.