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Cancer Res. 2006 Dec 1;66(23):11360-9.

Targeted degradation of the AML1/MDS1/EVI1 oncoprotein by arsenic trioxide.

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  • 1Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Department of Biology, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454-9110, USA.


Arsenic trioxide (ATO) has been found to be an effective treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia patients and is being tested for treating other hematologic malignancies. We have previously shown that AML1/MDS1/EVI1 (AME), a fusion gene generated by a t(3;21)(q26;q22) translocation found in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia during blast phase, myelodysplastic syndrome, or acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), impairs hematopoiesis and eventually induces an AML in mice. Both fusion partners of AME, AML1 and MDS1/EVI1, encode transcription factors and are also targets of a variety of genetic abnormalities in human hematologic malignancies. In addition, aberrant expression of ectopic viral integration site 1 (EVI1) has also been found in solid tumors, such as ovarian and colon cancers. In this study, we examined whether ATO could target AME and related oncoproteins. We found that ATO used at therapeutic levels degrades AME. The ATO treatment induces differentiation and apoptosis in AME leukemic cells in vitro as well as reduces tumor load and increases the survival of mice transplanted with these cells. We further found that ATO targets AME via both myelodysplastic syndrome 1 (MDS1) and EVI1 moieties and degrades EVI1 via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and MDS1 in a proteasome-independent manner. Our results suggest that ATO could be used as a part of targeted therapy for AME-, AML1/MDS1-, MDS1/EVI1-, and EVI1-positive human cancers.

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