Mixed-lineage-leukemia (MLL) Fusion Protein Collaborates With Ras to Induce Acute Leukemia Through Aberrant Hox Expression and Raf Activation

Leukemia. 2009 Dec;23(12):2197-209. doi: 10.1038/leu.2009.177. Epub 2009 Aug 27.


Mixed-lineage-leukemia (MLL) fusion oncogenes are closely involved in infant acute leukemia, which is frequently accompanied by mutations or overexpression of FMS-like receptor tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3). Earlier studies have shown that MLL fusion proteins induced acute leukemia together with another mutation, such as an FLT3 mutant, in mouse models. However, little has hitherto been elucidated regarding the molecular mechanism of the cooperativity in leukemogenesis. Using murine model systems of the MLL-fusion-mediated leukemogenesis leading to oncogenic transformation in vitro and acute leukemia in vivo, this study characterized the molecular network in the cooperative leukemogenesis. This research revealed that MLL fusion proteins cooperated with activation of Ras in vivo, which was substitutable for Raf in vitro, synergistically, but not with activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5), to induce acute leukemia in vivo as well as oncogenic transformation in vitro. Furthermore, Hoxa9, one of the MLL-targeted critical molecules, and activation of Ras in vivo, which was replaceable with Raf in vitro, were identified as fundamental components sufficient for mimicking MLL-fusion-mediated leukemogenesis. These findings suggest that the molecular crosstalk between aberrant expression of Hox molecule(s) and activated Raf may have a key role in the MLL-fusion-mediated-leukemogenesis, and may thus help develop the novel molecularly targeted therapy against MLL-related leukemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics*
  • Leukemia / etiology*
  • Mice
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein / physiology*
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • Receptor Cross-Talk
  • raf Kinases / metabolism*
  • ras Proteins / physiology*


  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • homeobox protein HOXA9
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein
  • raf Kinases
  • ras Proteins