An in vivo topoisomerase II cleavage site and a DNase I hypersensitive site colocalize near exon 9 in the MLL breakpoint cluster region

Blood. 1998 Nov 15;92(10):3793-803.


The human myeloid-lymphoid leukemia gene, MLL (also called ALL-1, Htrx, or HRX ), maps to chromosomal band 11q23. MLL is involved in translocations that result in de novo acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), mixed lineage leukemia, and also in therapy AML (t-AML) and therapy ALL (t-ALL) resulting from treatment with DNA topoisomerase II (topo II) targeting drugs. MLL can recombine with more than 30 other chromosomal bands, of which 16 of the partner genes have been cloned. Breaks in MLL occur in an 8. 3-kb breakpoint cluster region (BCR) encompassing exons 5 through 11. We recently demonstrated that 75% of de novo patient breakpoints in MLL mapped in the centromeric half of the BCR between two scaffold-associated regions (SAR), whereas 75% of the t-AML patient breakpoints mapped to the telomeric half of the BCR within a strong SAR. We have mapped additional structural elements in the BCR. An in vivo DNA topo II cleavage site (induced with several different drugs that target topo II) mapped near exon 9 in three leukemia cell lines. A strong DNase I hypersensitive site (HS) also mapped near exon 9 in four leukemia cell lines, including two in which MLL was rearranged [a t(6;11) and a t(9;11)], and in two lymphoblastoid cell lines with normal MLL. Two of the leukemia cell lines also showed an in vivo topo II cleavage site. Our results suggest that the chromatin structure of the MLL BCR may influence the location of DNA breaks in both de novo and therapy-related leukemias. We propose that topo II is enriched in the MLL telomeric SAR and that it cleaves the DNase I HS site after treatment with topo II inhibitors. These events may be involved in recombination associated with t-AML/t-ALL breakpoints mapping in the MLL SAR.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Chromosome Aberrations*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 11 / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 11 / ultrastructure
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II / metabolism*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • Deoxyribonuclease I / metabolism*
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / genetics*
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein
  • Proto-Oncogenes*
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Translocation, Genetic
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • KMT2A protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Deoxyribonuclease I
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II