The heterodimerization domains of MLL-FYRN and FYRC-are potential target structures in t(4;11) leukemia.
The chromosomal translocation t(4;11)(q21;q23) is a frequent genetic aberration of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene, predominantly associated with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in pediatric patients. Previous studies demonstrated that mice transplanted with hematopoietic cells expressing the AF4-MLL fusion protein develop proB ALL. The AF4-MLL oncoprotein becomes activated by Taspase1-mediated hydrolysis, which subsequently leads to a heterodimer of the cleavage products AF4-MLL·N and MLL·C. This protein-protein interaction is due to the FYRN and FYRC interaction domains present in both protein fragments. Heterodimerization subsequently induces high-molecular-weight protein complex formation that is protected against SIAH1/2-mediated polyubiquitinylation. Here, we attempted to selectively block this initial heterodimerization step, aiming to prevent the oncogenic activation of the AF4-MLL multiprotein complex. The minimal interaction interface was experimentally defined first in a bacterial two-hybrid system, and then in mammalian cells by using a biosensor assay. Expression of the FYRC domain, or smaller portions thereof, resulted in the inhibition of heterodimer formation, and blocked AF4-MLL multiprotein complex formation with subsequent destruction of the AF4-MLL oncoprotein. Thus, it is in principle possible to specifically target the AF4-MLL protein. This knowledge can now be exploited to design inhibitory decoys in order to destroy the AF4-MLL oncoprotein.
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