DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) is frequently mutated in hematological cancers; however, the underlying oncogenic mechanism remains elusive. Here, we report that the DNMT3A mutational hotspot at Arg882 (DNMT3A(R882H)) cooperates with NRAS mutation to transform hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells and induce acute leukemia development. Mechanistically, DNMT3A(R882H) directly binds to and potentiates transactivation of stemness genes critical for leukemogenicity including Meis1, Mn1, and Hoxa gene cluster. DNMT3A(R882H) induces focal epigenetic alterations, including CpG hypomethylation and concurrent gain of active histone modifications, at cis-regulatory elements such as enhancers to facilitate gene transcription. CRISPR/Cas9-mediated ablation of a putative Meis1 enhancer carrying DNMT3A(R882H)-induced DNA hypomethylation impairs Meis1 expression. Importantly, DNMT3A(R882H)-induced gene-expression programs can be repressed through Dot1l inhibition, providing an attractive therapeutic strategy for DNMT3A-mutated leukemias.
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