Role of UTX in retinoic acid receptor-mediated gene regulation in leukemia

Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Oct 1;34(19):3765-75. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00839-14. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


Human UTX, a member of the Jumonji C family of proteins, associates with mixed-lineage leukemia 3/4 complexes. Stimulation with retinoic acid leads to the recruitment of UTX-containing complexes to HOX genes, which results in demethylation of histone H3 lysine 27 and concomitant methylation of histone H3 lysine 4. Here, we show that UTX interacts with the retinoic acid receptor α (RARα) and that this interaction is essential for proper differentiation of leukemic U937 cells in response to retinoic acid. UTX occupies the promoters of several RAR target genes and regulates their transcriptional output by modulating ASH2L complex recruitment. Overexpression of UTX in promyelocytic NB4 cells results in enhanced cellular differentiation upon retinoic acid treatment. Our results show that UTX is important for RAR-mediated transcription and provide insight into the critical role of cross talk between histone H3 lysine 4 methylation and histone H3 lysine 27 demethylation during cellular differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Histone Demethylases / genetics
  • Histone Demethylases / metabolism*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / metabolism*
  • Leukemia / pathology
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / genetics
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / metabolism*
  • Retinoic Acid Receptor alpha
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology*
  • U937 Cells


  • ASH2L protein, human
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Histones
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RARA protein, human
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Retinoic Acid Receptor alpha
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tretinoin
  • Histone Demethylases
  • KDM6A protein, human