Systematic profiling of DNMT3A variants reveals protein instability mediated by the DCAF8 E3 ubiquitin ligase adaptor

Cancer Discov. 2021 Aug 24;candisc.0560.2021. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0560. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Clonal hematopoiesis is a prevalent age-related condition associated with greatly increased risk of hematologic disease; mutations in DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) are the most common driver of this state. DNMT3A variants occur across the gene with some particularly associated with malignancy, but the functional relevance and mechanisms of pathogenesis of the majority of mutations is unknown. Here, we systematically investigated the methyltransferase activity and protein stability of 253 disease-associated DNMT3A mutations, finding that 74% were loss-of-function mutations. Half of these variants exhibited reduced protein stability and, as a class, correlated with greater clonal expansion and AML development. We investigated the mechanisms underlying the instability using a CRISPR screen and uncovered regulated destruction of DNMT3A mediated by the DCAF8 E3 ubiquitin ligase adaptor. We establish a new paradigm to classify novel variants that has prognostic and potential therapeutic significance for patients with hematologic disease.