RUNX1 transcription factor regulates hematopoietic ontogeny and is a frequent target of gene rearrangements in hematological malignancies. In addition to gene rearrangements, loss-of-function mutations of RUNX1 have been found in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Mutations of RUNX1 have been detected in about 10–20% patients classified as MDS/AML (high-risk MDS and AML following MDS). Although loss-of-function mutations of RUNX1 cause leukemia together with additional cooperating events in mouse models, the mechanisms, by which impaired RUNX1 functions led to the subsequent genetic alterations, remain unclear. Because DNA damage-repair response has an important role for prevention of many types of tumors, including hematological malignancies, we analyzed the role for RUNX1 in DNA repair system. First, we stably expressed a dominant-negative mutant of RUNX1, RUNX1dC, in a murine myeloid cell line 32Dcl3. RUNX1dC lacks the C-terminal 225 amino acids, which was originally found in a patient with MDS and suppresses functions of wild-type (WT) RUNX1 by inhibiting its DNA binding activity. To analyze the roles for RUNX1 in the DNA repair system, we took advantage of in vitro DNA repair assays with DNA cross-linking agents in 32D-neo and 32D-RUNX1dC cells. Since the cells that recovered from DNA damage make colonies after cisplatin exposure, we can evaluate DNA repair ability of test cells with this assay. As a result, clonogenic ability of 32D-RUNX1dC was significantly decreased by the 2-hour exposure of cisplatin (10nM treatment: 93.4% reduction) compared to that of 32D-neo cell (10nM treatment: 58.6% reduction) (p=0.0006). In addition, 32D-RUNX1dC showed significantly lower clonogenic ability than 32D-neo after exposure to UV-B and gamma-ray, respectively. To evaluate DNA-damage accumulation in 32D-neo and 32D-RUNX1dC cells, we performed immunofluorescent microscopic analysis using monoclonal antibodies for (6–4) photoproducts (6–4 PPs) and cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers (CPDs), which are major products of DNA damage induced by UV-B. These types of DNA lesions are repaired by nucleotide excision repair (NER) system. After six hours from UV-B exposure, both 6–4 PPs and CPDs accumulated in 32D-RUNX1dC cells more abundantly than in 32D-neo cells. These results suggest that RUNX1dC attenuates NER in 32D cells, thereby leading to the sustained accumulations of DNA lesions after exposure to UV-B and cisplatin. To identify the molecule(s) involved in DNA-damage signaling, we profiled expression of 84 genes involved in DNA damage signaling by real-time RT-PCR array. The expression profiling revealed that RUNX1dC repressed Gadd45a, a regulator of NER system in 32D cells. Because genetic alteration of RUNX1 is supposed to occur at a HSC level in MDS and AML, we next evaluated whether RUNX1dC modifies Gadd45 expression in murine Lineage−Sca1+c-Kit+ (LSK) cells. As a result, RUNX1dC-transduced LSK cells showed significantly lower expression of Gadd45a and Gadd45b compared to Mock-transduced LSK cells. Luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that RUNX1 directly regulates Gadd45a expression via two RUNX1-binding sites neighboring to the p53-binding site in the intron 3 of the human Gadd45a gene. To confirm the roles for endogenous RUNX1 in NER system, we next performed RUNX1-knockdown experiments by short hairpin RNA (shRNA) -mediated gene silencing. RUNX1-shRNA-transduced 32D cells showed significantly lower expression of Gadd45a and Gadd45b than non-silensing-shRNA-transduced 32D cells. As expected, RUNX1-shRNA-transduced 32D cells showed significantly lower clonogenic ability after UV-B exposure than non-silensing-shRNA-transduced 32D cells (p=0.0008). These results suggest that endogenous RUNX1 regulates Gadd45 expression, thereby controlling NER system. Finally, we screened mRNA expression of Gadd45a in the samples from 23 MDS/AML patients, and found that its expression was significantly decreased in MDS/AML patients harboring RUNX1-C-terminal mutation compared to those with WT RUNX1 (p=0.0233). In summary, we here demonstrated that RUNX1 participates in the DNA damage-repair response through transcriptional regulation of Gadd45a. Our study suggests that the impaired RUNX1 function deteriorates NER system and may cause additional mutation(s), which are required for multi-step leukemogenesis.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.