The leukemia-specific oncofusion protein AML1/ETO regulates different target genes, including the LAT2 gene (encoding the adaptor molecule LAT2/NTAL/LAB), which is epigenetically repressed by AML1/ETO as we have previously described. LAT2 is phosphorylated by c-kit and has a role in mast cell and B cell activation. To address the functional role of LAT2 during myeloid differentiation, expression studies were performed in myeloid cell lines, and LAT2 was overexpressed by retroviral gene transfer in AML1/ETO-positive Kasumi-1 cells and AML1/ETO-negative U-937 cells.
To induce monocytic and granulocytic differentiation, the myeloid cell lines U-937, HL-60 and NB4 were treated with PMA and ATRA, respectively, and LAT2 expression measured by both Northern and Western blot. LAT2 was overexpressed in Kasumi-1 and U-937 cells by use of the retroviral vector pMYSiG-IRES-GFP. Virus was produced in 293T cells and titrated in TE671 cells. Following transduction, GFP-positive cells were sorted by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS). Transduced cells were treated with PMA (2 and 10 nM for 24 and 48 hours) and ATRA (0.1 μM and 0.5 μM for 48 and 96 hours), respectively.
The AML1/ETO-negative myeloid cell lines HL-60, NB4 and U-937 readily expressed LAT2, which was further upregulated by PMA, and transiently downregulated with ATRA. In the AML1/ETO-positive Kasumi-1 and SKNO-1 cells, LAT2 expression was absent. To address the functional role of this repression, forced expression of LAT2 was achieved in Kasumi-1 and U-937 cells and resulted in effective processing of LAT2 protein (confirmed by Western blot), and a decrease in the expression of the differentiation markers CD11b and CD11c (FACS analysis) in Kasumi-1 but not U-937, with only minor effects of LAT2 overexpression upon apoptosis and cell growth arrest. Notably, during both PMA- and ATRA-induced differentiation, a striking maturation block occurred in Kasumi-1 (measured by CD11b/CD11c expression, observed at different doses and time points of these treatments), while differentiation of U-937 cells was unimpaired by overexpression of LAT2.
In AML1/ETO-negative leukemia cells, LAT2 expression is differentially regulated during monocytic and granulocytic differentiation. In AML1/ETO-positive leukemia cells, in which LAT2 is repressed, LAT2 re-expression imposes a striking maturation block. Graded expression of this novel AML1/ETO target gene may therefore play an important role in maintaining the phenotypic characteristics of this leukemia subtype.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.