Tumor necrosis factor‑related apoptosis‑inducing ligand is a novel transcriptional target of runt‑related transcription factor 1

Int J Oncol. 2022 Jan;60(1):6. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2021.5296. Epub 2021 Dec 27.


Runt‑related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1), which is also known as acute myeloid leukemia 1 (AML1), has been frequently found with genomic aberrations in human leukemia. RUNX1 encodes a transcription factor that can regulate the expression of hematopoietic genes. In addition, tumor necrosis factor‑related apoptosis‑inducing ligand (TRAIL) performs an important function for malignant tumors in immune surveillance. However, the regulatory mechanism of TRAIL expression remain to be fully elucidated. In the present study, tetradecanoylphorbol 13‑acetate‑treated megakaryocytic differentiated K562 cells was used to examine the effect of RUNX1 on TRAIL expression. Luciferase assay series of TRAIL promoters for the cells co‑transfected with RUNX1 and core‑binding factor β (CBFβ) expression vectors were performed to evaluate the nature of TRAIL transcriptional regulation. Electrophoresis mobility shift assay of the RUNX1 consensus sequence of the TRAIL promoter with recombinant RUNX1 and CBFβ proteins was also performed. BloodSpot database analysis for TRAIL expression in patients with acute myeloid leukemia were performed. The expression of TRAIL, its receptor Death receptor 4 and 5 and RUNX1 in K562 cells transfected with the RUNX1 expression vector and RUNX1 siRNA were evaluated by reverse transcription‑quantitative PCR (RT‑qPCR). TRAIL and RUNX1‑ETO expression was also measured in Kasumi‑1 cells transfected with RUNX1‑ETO siRNA and in KG‑1 cells transfected with RUNX1‑ETO expression plasmid, both by RT‑qPCR. Cell counting, lactate dehydrogenase assay and cell cycle analysis by flow cytometry were performed on Kasumi‑1, KG‑1, SKNO‑1 and K562 cells treated with TRAIL and HDAC inhibitors sodium butyrate or valproic acid. The present study demonstrated that RUNX1 is a transcriptional regulator of TRAIL. It was initially found that the induction of TRAIL expression following the megakaryocytic differentiation of human leukemia cells was RUNX1‑dependent. Subsequently, overexpression of RUNX1 was found to increase TRAIL mRNA expression by activating its promoter activity. Additional analyses revealed that RUNX1 regulated the expression of TRAIL in an indirect manner, because RUNX1 retained its ability to activate this promoter following the mutation of all possible RUNX1 consensus sites. Furthermore, TRAIL expression was reduced in leukemia cells carrying the t(8;21) translocation, where the RUNX1‑ETO chimeric protein interfere with normal RUNX1 function. Exogenous treatment of recombinant TRAIL proteins was found to induce leukemia cell death. To conclude, the present study provided a novel mechanism, whereby TRAIL is a target gene of RUNX1 and TRAIL expression was inhibited by RUNX1‑ETO. These results suggest that TRAIL is a promising agent for the clinical treatment of t(8;21) AML.

Keywords: acute myeloid leukemia 1; apoptosis; runt‑related transcription factor 1; transcription; tumor‑necrosis factor‑related apoptosis inducing ligand.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / metabolism
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • K562 Cells / drug effects
  • K562 Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / drug effects*
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit
  • RUNX1 protein, human
  • TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand
  • TNFSF10 protein, human

Grants and funding

The present study was supported by JSPS KAKENHI (grant nos. JP15K09487, JP16K09857, JP16K10038, JP17K09936 and JP19K08846). It was also supported in part by Shimizu Foundation for Immunology and Neuroscience Grant for 2016, Children's Cancer Association of Japan Financial Support for 2016 and Research Institute for Production Development Grant for 2017.