Acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs) with a rearrangement of the mixed-linage leukemia (MLL) gene are aggressive hematopoietic malignancies. Here, we explored the feasibility of using the H3K9- and H3K36-specific demethylases Jmjd2/Kdm4 as putative drug targets in MLL-AF9 translocated leukemia. Using Jmjd2a, Jmjd2b, and Jmjd2c conditional triple-knockout mice, we show that Jmjd2/Kdm4 activities are required for MLL-AF9 translocated AML in vivo and in vitro. We demonstrate that expression of the interleukin 3 receptor α (Il3ra also known as Cd123) subunit is dependent on Jmjd2/Kdm4 through a mechanism involving removal of H3K9me3 from the promoter of the Il3ra gene. Importantly, ectopic expression of Il3ra in Jmjd2/Kdm4 knockout cells alleviates the requirement of Jmjd2/Kdm4 for the survival of AML cells, showing that Il3ra is a critical downstream target of Jmjd2/Kdm4 in leukemia. These results suggest that the JMJD2/KDM4 proteins are promising drug targets for the treatment of AML.
Keywords: H3K9 methylation; JMJD2; acute myeloid leukemia; epigenetics; histone demethylase; interleukin 3.
© 2016 Agger et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.