Functional and cancer genomics of ASXL family members

Br J Cancer. 2013 Jul 23;109(2):299-306. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.281. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Additional sex combs-like (ASXL)1, ASXL2 and ASXL3 are human homologues of the Drosophila Asx gene that are involved in the regulation or recruitment of the Polycomb-group repressor complex (PRC) and trithorax-group (trxG) activator complex. ASXL proteins consist of ASXN, ASXH, ASXM1, ASXM2 and PHD domains. ASXL1 directly interacts with BAP1, KDM1A (LSD1), NCOA1 and nuclear hormone receptors (NHRs), such as retinoic acid receptors, oestrogen receptor and androgen receptor. ASXL family members are epigenetic scaffolding proteins that assemble epigenetic regulators and transcription factors to specific genomic loci with histone modifications. ASXL1 is involved in transcriptional repression through an interaction with PRC2 and also contributes to transcriptional regulation through interactions with BAP1 and/or NHR complexes. Germ-line mutations of human ASXL1 and ASXL3 occur in Bohring-Opitz and related syndromes. Amplification and overexpression of ASXL1 occur in cervical cancer. Truncation mutations of ASXL1 occur in colorectal cancers with microsatellite instability (MSI), malignant myeloid diseases, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, and liver, prostate and breast cancers; those of ASXL2 occur in prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and breast cancer and those of ASXL3 are observed in melanoma. EPC1-ASXL2 gene fusion occurs in adult T-cell leukaemia/lymphoma. The prognosis of myeloid malignancies with misregulating truncation mutations of ASXL1 is poor. ASXL family members are assumed to be tumour suppressive or oncogenic in a context-dependent manner.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Repressor Proteins / classification
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sequence Homology
  • Transcription Factors / classification
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • ASXL1 protein, human
  • ASXL2 protein, human
  • ASXL3 protein, human
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors