ZNF384-related fusion genes are associated with a distinct subgroup of B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemias in childhood, with a frequency of approximately 3–4%. We previously identified a novel EP300-ZNF384 fusion gene. Patients with the ZNF384-related fusion gene exhibit a hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene expression signature and characteristic immunophenotype with negative or low expression of CD10 and aberrant expression of myeloid antigens, such as CD33 and CD13. However, the molecular basis of this pathogenesis remains completely unknown. In the present study, we examined the biological effects of EP300-ZNF384 expression induced by retrovirus-mediated gene transduction in an REH B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell line, and observed the acquisition of the HSC gene expression signature and an up-regulation of GATA3 gene expression, as assessed by microarray analysis. In contrast, the gene expression profile induced by wild-type ZNF384 in REH cells was significantly different from that by EP300-ZNF384 expression. Together with the results of reporter assays, which revealed the enhancement of GATA3-promoter activity by EP300-ZNF384 expression, these findings suggest that EP300-ZNF384 mediates GATA3 gene expression and may be involved in the acquisition of the HSC gene expression signature and characteristic immunophenotype in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells.
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