The homeobox transcription factors HoxA9 and Meis1 are causally involved in the etiology of acute myeloid leukemia. While HoxA9 alone immortalizes cells, cooperation with Meis1 is necessary to induce a full leukemic phenotype. Here, we applied degron techniques to elucidate the leukemogenic contribution of Meis1. ChIP experiments revealed that Meis1 localized mainly to H3K27 acetylated and H3K4 mono-methylated enhancers pre-activated by HoxA9. Chromatin association of Meis1 required physical presence of HoxA9 and all Meis1 DNA interactions were rapidly lost after HoxA9 degradation. Meis1 controlled a gene expression pattern dominated by Myc, ribosome biogenesis and rRNA synthesis genes. While Myc accounted for the cell-cycle stimulating effect of Meis1, overexpression of this oncogene alone did not accelerate leukemogenesis. Besides its effect on Myc, Meis1 induced transcription of ribosomal biogenesis genes. This was accompanied by an elevated resistance against inhibition of rRNA synthesis and translation, but without affecting steady-state protein synthesis. Finally, we demonstrate that HoxA9 and Meis1 proteins are stabilized by post-translational modification. Mutation of HoxA9/Meis1 phosphorylation sites or inhibition of casein kinase 2 lead to rapid protein degradation suggesting a potential pathway for pharmacological intervention.
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