Relapsed paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) has high rates of treatment failure. Epigenetic regulators have been proposed as modulators of chemoresistance, here, we sequence genes encoding epigenetic regulators in matched diagnosis-remission-relapse ALL samples. We find significant enrichment of mutations in epigenetic regulators at relapse with recurrent somatic mutations in SETD2, CREBBP, MSH6, KDM6A and MLL2, mutations in signalling factors are not enriched. Somatic alterations in SETD2, including frameshift and nonsense mutations, are present at 12% in a large de novo ALL patient cohort. We conclude that the enrichment of mutations in epigenetic regulators at relapse is consistent with a role in mediating therapy resistance.
Lenalidomide is a drug with clinical efficacy in multiple myeloma and other B cell neoplasms, but its mechanism of action is unknown. Using quantitative proteomics, we found that lenalidomide causes selective ubiquitination and degradation of two lymphoid transcription factors, IKZF1 and IKZF3, by the CRBN-CRL4 ubiquitin ligase. IKZF1 and IKZF3 are essential transcription factors in multiple myeloma. A single amino acid substitution of IKZF3 conferred resistance to lenalidomide-induced degradation and rescued lenalidomide-induced inhibition of cell growth. Similarly, we found that lenalidomide-induced IL2 production in T cells is due to depletion of IKZF1 and IKZF3. These findings reveal a novel mechanism of action for a therapeutic agent, alteration of the activity of an E3 ubiquitin ligase leading to selective degradation of specific targets.
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