Mixed lineage leukemia: roles in gene expression, hormone signaling and mRNA processing

FEBS J. 2010 Apr;277(8):1790-804. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2010.07606.x. Epub 2010 Mar 4.


Mixed lineage leukemias (MLLs) are an evolutionarily conserved trithorax family of human genes that play critical roles in HOX gene regulation and embryonic development. MLL1 is well known to be rearranged in myeloid and lymphoid leukemias in children and adults. There are several MLL family proteins such as MLL1, MLL2, MLL3, MLL4, MLL5, Set1A and Set1B, and each possesses histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4)-specific methyltransferase activity and has critical roles in gene activation and epigenetics. Although MLLs are recognized as major regulators of gene activation, their mechanism of action, target genes and the distinct functions of different MLLs remain elusive. Recent studies demonstrate that besides H3K4 methylation and HOX gene regulation, MLLs have much wider roles in gene activation and regulate diverse other genes. Interestingly, several MLLs interact with nuclear receptors and have critical roles in steroid-hormone-mediated gene activation and signaling. In this minireview, we summarize recent advances in understanding the roles of MLLs in gene regulation and hormone signaling and highlight their potential roles in mRNA processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression*
  • Genes, Homeobox
  • Hormones / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / genetics
  • Leukemia / metabolism
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*


  • Hormones
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein