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Mol Cell Biol. 2006 Feb;26(4):1288-96.

Recruitment of the histone methyltransferase SUV39H1 and its role in the oncogenic properties of the leukemia-associated PML-retinoic acid receptor fusion protein.

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Department of Experimental Oncology, European Institute of Oncology, and Department of Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnologies, University of Milan, Italy.


Leukemia-associated fusion proteins establish aberrant transcriptional programs, which result in the block of hematopoietic differentiation, a prominent feature of the leukemic phenotype. The dissection of the mechanisms of deregulated transcription by leukemia fusion proteins is therefore critical for the design of tailored antileukemic strategies, aimed at reestablishing the differentiation program of leukemic cells. The acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)-associated fusion protein PML-retinoic acid receptor (RAR) behaves as an aberrant transcriptional repressor, due to its ability to induce chromatin modifications (histone deacetylation and DNA methylation) and silencing of PML-RAR target genes. Here, we indicate that the ultimate result of PML-RAR action is to impose a heterochromatin-like structure on its target genes, thereby establishing a permanent transcriptional silencing. This effect is mediated by the previously described association of PML-RAR with chromatin-modifying enzymes (histone deacetylases and DNA methyltransferases) and by recruitment of the histone methyltransferase SUV39H1, responsible for trimethylation of lysine 9 of histone H3.

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