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Blood Adv. 2017 Sep 1;1(20):1682-1693. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2017007054. eCollection 2017 Sep 12.

Myeloid leukemia factor 1 stabilizes tumor suppressor C/EBPα to prevent Trib1-driven acute myeloid leukemia.

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Department of Tumor Cell Biology, Graduate School of Biological Sciences, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Ikoma, Japan.


C/EBPα is a key transcription factor regulating myeloid differentiation and leukemogenesis. The Trib1-COP1 complex is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets C/EBPα for degradation, and its overexpression specifically induces acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here we show that myeloid leukemia factor 1 (MLF1) stabilizes C/EBPα protein levels by inhibiting the ligase activity of the Trib1-COP1 complex. MLF1 directly interacts with COP1 in the nucleus and interferes with the formation of the Trib1-COP1 complex, thereby blocking its ability to polyubiquitinate C/EBPα for degradation. MLF1 overexpression suppressed the Trib1-induced growth advantage in a murine bone marrow (BM) culture and Trib1-induced AML development in BM-transplanted mouse models. MLF1 was expressed in hematopoietic stem cells and myeloid progenitors (common myeloid progenitors and granulocyte-macrophage progenitors) in normal hematopoiesis, which is consistent with the distribution of C/EBPα. An MLF1 deficiency conferred a more immature phenotype on Trib1-induced AML development. A higher expression ratio of Trib1 to MLF1 was a key determinant for AML development in mouse models, which was also confirmed in human patient samples with acute leukemia. These results indicate that MLF1 is a positive regulator that is critical for C/EBPα stability in the early phases of hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict-of-interest disclosure: The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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