Cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia (CN-AML) represents nearly 50% of human AML. Co-occurring mutations in the de novo DNA methyltransferase DNMT3A and the FMS related tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) are common in CN-AML and confer a poorer prognosis. We demonstrate that mice with Flt3-internal tandem duplication (Flt3(ITD)) and inducible deletion of Dnmt3a spontaneously develop a rapidly lethal, completely penetrant, and transplantable AML of normal karyotype. AML cells retain a single Dnmt3a floxed allele, revealing the oncogenic potential of Dnmt3a haploinsufficiency. FLT3(ITD)/DNMT3A-mutant primary human and murine AML exhibit a similar pattern of global DNA methylation associated with changes in the expression of nearby genes. In the murine model, rescuing Dnmt3a expression was accompanied by DNA remethylation and loss of clonogenic potential, suggesting that Dnmt3a-mutant oncogenic effects are reversible. Dissection of the cellular architecture of the AML model using single-cell assays, including single-cell RNA sequencing, identified clonogenic subpopulations that express genes sensitive to the methylation of nearby genomic loci and responsive to DNMT3A levels. Thus, Dnmt3a haploinsufficiency transforms Flt3(ITD) myeloproliferative disease by modulating methylation-sensitive gene expression within a clonogenic AML subpopulation.
Significance: DNMT3A haploinsufficiency results in reversible epigenetic alterations that transform FLT3(ITD)-mutant myeloproliferative neoplasm into AML. Cancer Discov; 6(5); 501-15. ©2016 AACR.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 461.
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.