A Tumor Suppressor Enhancer of PTEN in T-cell development and leukemia

Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 Jan;2(1):92-109. doi: 10.1158/2643-3230.BCD-20-0201. Epub 2020 Nov 24.


Long-range oncogenic enhancers play an important role in cancer. Yet, whether similar regulation of tumor suppressor genes is relevant remains unclear. Loss of expression of PTEN is associated with the pathogenesis of various cancers, including T-cell leukemia (T-ALL). Here, we identify a highly conserved distal enhancer (PE) that interacts with the PTEN promoter in multiple hematopoietic populations, including T-cells, and acts as a hub of relevant transcription factors in T-ALL. Consistently, loss of PE leads to reduced PTEN levels in T-ALL cells. Moreover, PE-null mice show reduced Pten levels in thymocytes and accelerated development of NOTCH1-induced T-ALL. Furthermore, secondary loss of PE in established leukemias leads to accelerated progression and a gene expression signature driven by Pten loss. Finally, we uncovered recurrent deletions encompassing PE in T-ALL, which are associated with decreased PTEN levels. Altogether, our results identify PE as the first long-range tumor suppressor enhancer directly implicated in cancer.

Keywords: NOTCH1; PTEN; T-ALL; T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia; enhancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Enhancer Elements, Genetic*
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Mice
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase* / genetics
  • Precursor T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma* / genetics
  • Receptor, Notch1* / genetics
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptor, Notch1
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase