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Overexpression of RUNX3 Represses RUNX1 to Drive Transformation of Myelodysplastic Syndrome

May 15 2020

Goro Sashida

Authors: Takako Yokomizo-Nakano, Sho Kubota, Jie Bai, Ai Hamashima, Mariko Morii, Yuqi Sun, Seiichiro Katagiri, Mihoko Iimori, Akinori Kanai, Daiki Tanaka, Motohiko Oshima, Yuka Harada, Kazuma Ohyashiki, Atsushi Iwama, Hironori Harada, Motomi Osato and Goro Sashida

Title: Overexpression of RUNX3 Represses RUNX1 to Drive Transformation of Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Cancer Res 2020;80:2523-36

DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-3167 Published June 2020


RUNX3, a RUNX family transcription factor, regulates normal hematopoiesis and functions as a tumor suppressor in various tumors in humans and mice. However, emerging studies have documented increased expression of RUNX3 in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPC) of a subset of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) showing a worse outcome, suggesting an oncogenic function for RUNX3 in the pathogenesis of hematologic malignancies. To elucidate the oncogenic function of RUNX3 in the pathogenesis of MDS in vivo, we generated a RUNX3-expressing, Tet2-deficient mouse model with the pancytopenia and dysplastic blood cells characteristic of MDS in patients. RUNX3-expressing cells markedly suppressed the expression levels of Runx1, a critical regulator of hemaotpoiesis in normal and malignant cells, as well as its target genes, which included crucial tumor suppressors such as Cebpa and Csf1r. RUNX3 bound these genes and remodeled their Runx1-binding regions in Tet2-deficient cells. Overexpression of RUNX3 inhibited the transcriptional function of Runx1 and compromised hematopoiesis to facilitate the development of MDS in the absence of Tet2, indicating that RUNX3 is an oncogene. Furthermore, overexpression of RUNX3 activated the transcription of Myc target genes and rendered cells sensitive to inhibition of Myc-Max heterodimerization. Collectively, these results reveal the mechanism by which RUNX3 overexpression exerts oncogenic effects on the cellular function of and transcriptional program in Tet2-deficient stem cells to drive the transformation of MDS.

Significance: This study defines the oncogenic effects of transcription factor RUNX3 in driving the transformation of myelodysplastic syndrome, highlighting RUNX3 as a potential target for therapeutic intervention.