Loss of MLL Induces Epigenetic Dysregulation of Rasgrf1 to Attenuate Kras-Driven Lung Tumorigenesis

Cancer Res. 2022 Nov 15;82(22):4153-4163. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-22-1475.


Menin is necessary for the formation of the menin/mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) complex and is recruited directly to chromatin. Menin is an important tumor suppressor in several cancer types, including lung cancer. Here, we investigated the role of MLL in menin-regulated lung tumorigenesis. Ablation of MLL suppressed KrasG12D-induced lung tumorigenesis in a genetically engineered mouse model. MLL deficiency decreased histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3) and subsequently suppressed expression of the Ras protein-specific guanine nucleotide-releasing factor 1 (Rasgrf1) gene. Rasgrf1 was essential for the GTP-bound active state of Kras and the activation of Kras downstream pathways as well as their cancer-promoting activities. MI-3, a small-molecule inhibitor targeting MLL, specifically inhibited the growth of Kras-mutated lung cancer cells in vitro and in vivo with minimal effect on wild-type Kras lung cancer growth. Together, these results demonstrate a novel tumor promoter function of MLL in mutant Kras-induced lung tumorigenesis and further indicate that specific blockade of the MLL-Rasgrf1 pathway may be a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of tumors containing Kras mutations.

Significance: Activation of mutant Kras is dependent on MLL-mediated epigenetic regulation of Rasgrf1, conferring sensitivity to small-molecule inhibition of MLL in Kras-driven lung cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Carcinogenesis / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic* / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic* / physiology
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Leukemia / genetics
  • Leukemia / pathology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein* / genetics
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein* / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • ras-GRF1* / genetics
  • ras-GRF1* / metabolism


  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein
  • ras-GRF1
  • Rasgrf1 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors
  • Men1 protein, mouse
  • histone H3 trimethyl Lys4
  • Hras protein, mouse