Distinct interactions of PML-RARalpha and PLZF-RARalpha with co-repressors determine differential responses to RA in APL

Nat Genet. 1998 Feb;18(2):126-35. doi: 10.1038/ng0298-126.


Acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL), associated with chromosomal translocations involving the retinoic acid receptor alpha gene (RARA) and the PML gene, is sensitive to retinoic acid (RA) treatment, while APL patients harbouring translocations between RARA and the PLZF gene do not respond to RA. We have generated PML-RARA and PLZF-RARA transgenic mice and show here that these fusion proteins play a critical role in leukaemogenesis and in determining responses to RA in APL, because PLZF-RARA transgenic mice develop RA-resistant leukaemia, while PML-RARA mice are responsive to RA treatment. We demonstrate that both PML-RARalpha and PLZF-RARalpha fusion proteins can act as transcriptional repressors and are able to interact with nuclear receptor transcriptional co-repressors, such as SMRT. PLZF-RARalpha, but not PML-RARalpha, can form, via its PLZF moiety, co-repressor complexes which are insensitive to RA. Histone deacetylase inhibitors such as Trichostatin A (TSA), in combination with RA, can overcome the transcriptional repressor activity of PML-RARalpha and PLZF-RARalpha as well as the unresponsiveness of PLZF-RARalpha-expressing leukaemic cells to RA. Thus, our findings unravel a crucial role for transcriptional silencing in APL pathogenesis and resistance to RA in APL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Protein
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Zinc Finger Protein
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid / genetics*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Retinoic Acid Receptor alpha
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Translocation, Genetic
  • Tretinoin / therapeutic use*
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Zinc Fingers


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Kruppel-Like Transcription Factors
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Pml protein, mouse
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Protein
  • Promyelocytic Leukemia Zinc Finger Protein
  • RARA protein, human
  • Rara protein, mouse
  • Receptors, Retinoic Acid
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Retinoic Acid Receptor alpha
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Zbtb16 protein, mouse
  • PML protein, human
  • ZBTB16 protein, human
  • Tretinoin