MDS1/EVI1 enhances TGF-beta1 signaling and strengthens its growth-inhibitory effect but the leukemia-associated fusion protein AML1/MDS1/EVI1, product of the t(3;21), abrogates growth-inhibition in response to TGF-beta1

Leukemia. 1999 Mar;13(3):348-57. doi: 10.1038/sj.leu.2401360.


MDS1/EVI1, located on chromosome 3 band q26, encodes a zinc-finger DNA-binding transcription activator not detected in normal hematopoietic cells but expressed in several normal tissues. MDS1/EVI1 is inappropriately activated in myeloid leukemias following chromosomal rearrangements involving band 3q26. The rearrangements lead either to gene truncation, and to expression of the transcription repressor EVI1, as seen in the t(3;3)(q21;q26) and inv(3)(q21q26), or to gene fusion, as seen in the t(3;21)(q26;q22) which results in the fusion protein AML1/MDS1/EVI1. This fusion protein contains the DNA-binding domain of the transcription factor AML1 fused in-frame to the entire MDS1/EVI1 with the exclusion of its first 12 amino acids. In this report, we have analyzed the response of the hematopoietic precursor cell line 32Dcl3, expressing either the normal protein MDS1/EVI1 or the fusion protein AML1/MDS1/EVI1, to factors that control cell differentiation or cell replication. The 32Dcl3 cells are IL-3-dependent for growth and they differentiate into granulocytes when exposed to G-CSF. They are growth-inhibited by TGF-beta1. We show that whereas the expression of MDS1/EVI1 has no effect on granulocytic differentiation induced by G-CSF, expression of AML1/MDS1/EVI1 blocks differentiation resulting in cell death. This effect is similar to that previously described by others for 32Dcl3 cells that express transgenic Evil. Furthermore, we show that whereas the expression of the fusion protein AML1/MDS1/EVI1 completely abrogates the growth-inhibitory effect of TGF-beta1 and allows 32Dcl3 cells to proliferate, expression of the normal protein MDS1/EVI1 has the opposite effect, and it strengthens the response of cells to the growth-inhibitory effect of TGF-beta1. By using the yeast two-hybrid system, we also show that EVI1 (contained in its entirety in MDS1/EVI1 and AML1/MDS1/EVI1) physically interacts with SMAD3, which is an intracellular mediator of TGF-beta1 signaling. Finally, we have correlated the response of the cells to G-CSF or TGF-beta1 with the ability of the normal and fusion proteins to activate or repress promoters which they can directly regulate by binding to the promoter site. We propose that mutations of MDS1/EVI1 either by gene truncation resulting in the transcription repressor EVI1 or by gene fusion to AML1 lead to an altered cellular response to growth and differentiation factors that could result in leukemic transformation. The different response of myeloid cells ectopically expressing the normal or the fusion protein to G-CSF and TGF-beta1 could depend on the different transactivation properties of these proteins resulting in divergent expression of downstream genes regulated by the two proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 21
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 3
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Granulocytes / cytology
  • Humans
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Translocation, Genetic*


  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • MDS1-EVI1 fusion protein, human
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • RUNX1 protein, human
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta