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A CALM-derived nuclear export signal is essential for CALM-AF10–mediated leukemogenesis

Amanda E. Conway, Paula B. Scotland, Catherine P. Lavau and Daniel S. Wechsler

Key Points

  • An NES within CALM is necessary and sufficient for CALM-AF10–mediated transformation.

  • Presence of the CALM NES confers transformation potential to AF10 through perturbation of H3K79 methylation and Hoxa cluster expression.

Abstract

The t(10;11) chromosomal translocation gives rise to the CALM-AF10 fusion gene and is found in patients with aggressive and difficult-to-treat hematopoietic malignancies. CALM-AF10–driven leukemias are characterized by HOXA gene up-regulation and a global reduction in H3K79 methylation. DOT1L, the H3K79 methyltransferase, interacts with the octapeptide/leucine zipper domain of AF10, and this region has been shown to be necessary and sufficient for CALM-AF10–mediated transformation. However, the precise role of CALM in leukemogenesis remains unclear. Here, we show that CALM contains a nuclear export signal (NES) that mediates cytoplasmic localization of CALM-AF10 and is necessary for CALM-AF10–dependent transformation. Fusions of the CALM NES (NESCALM-AF10) or NES motifs from heterologous proteins (ABL1, Rev, PKIA, APC) in-frame with AF10 are sufficient to immortalize murine hematopoietic progenitors in vitro. The CALM NES is essential for CALM-AF10–dependent Hoxa gene up-regulation and aberrant H3K79 methylation, possibly by mislocalization of DOT1L. Finally, we observed that CALM-AF10 leukemia cells are selectively sensitive to inhibition of nuclear export by Leptomycin B. These findings uncover a novel mechanism of leukemogenesis mediated by the nuclear export pathway and support further investigation of the utility of nuclear export inhibitors as therapeutic agents for patients with CALM-AF10 leukemias.

  • Submitted June 7, 2012.
  • Accepted March 4, 2013.
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