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Cancer Res. 2007 Mar 1;67(5):2280-9.

Targeting the oligomerization domain of ETO interferes with RUNX1/ETO oncogenic activity in t(8;21)-positive leukemic cells.

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Institute for Biomedical Research, Georg-Speyer-Haus, Paul-Ehrlich-Strasse 42-44, 60596 Frankfurt/M, Germany.


About 12% of all de novo acute myeloid leukemias are characterized by the translocation t(8;21), which generates the oncogenic fusion protein RUNX1/ETO. RUNX1/ETO has a modular structure and contains several docking sites for heterologous proteins, including transcriptional co-repressors like N-CoR, SMART, and mSIN3A. RUNX1/ETO is found in high molecular weight complexes, which are crucial for the block in myeloid differentiation observed in RUNX1/ETO-transformed cells. Essential for high molecular weight complex formation is the nervy homology region 2 (NHR2) within ETO, which serves as interacting surface for oligomerization as well as association with members of the ETO protein family. Here, we show that the expression of a fusion peptide consisting of 128 amino acids (NC128), including the entire NHR2 domain of ETO, disrupts the stability of the RUNX1/ETO high molecular weight complexes, restores transcription of RUNX1/ETO target genes, and reverts the differentiation block induced by RUNX1/ETO in myeloid cells. In the presence of NC128, RUNX1/ETO-transformed cells lose their progenitor cell characteristics, are arrested in cell cycle progression, and undergo cell death. Our results indicate that selective interference with the oligomerization domain of ETO could provide a promising strategy to inhibit the oncogenic properties of the leukemia-associated fusion protein RUNX1/ETO.

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