Thalidomide analogs exert their therapeutic effects by binding to the CRL4CRBN E3 ubiquitin ligase, promoting ubiquitination and subsequent proteasomal degradation of specific protein substrates. Drug-induced degradation of IKZF1 and IKZF3 in B-cell malignancies demonstrates the clinical utility of targeting disease-relevant transcription factors for degradation. Here, we found that avadomide (CC-122) induces CRBN-dependent ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of ZMYM2 (ZNF198), a transcription factor involved in balanced chromosomal rearrangements with FGFR1 and FLT3 in aggressive forms of hematologic malignancies. The minimal drug-responsive element of ZMYM2 is a zinc-chelating MYM domain and is contained in the N-terminal portion of ZMYM2 that is universally included in the derived fusion proteins. We demonstrate that avadomide has the ability to induce proteasomal degradation of ZMYM2-FGFR1 and ZMYM2-FLT3 chimeric oncoproteins, both in vitro and in vivo. Our findings suggest that patients with hematologic malignancies harboring these ZMYM2 fusion proteins may benefit from avadomide treatment.
Keywords: fusion oncoproteins; hematologic malignancies; thalidomide analogs; ubiquitination; zinc finger protein.