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Meis1-mediated Apoptosis Is Caspase Dependent And Can Be Suppressed By Coexpression Of HoxA9 In Murine And Human Cell Lines

Peter J. Wermuth, Arthur M. Buchberg

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AbstractCoexpression of the homeodomain protein Meis1 and either HoxA7 or HoxA9 is characteristic of many acute myelogenous leukemias. Although Meis1 can be overexpressed in bone marrow long-term repopulating cells, it is incapable of mediating their transformation. Although overexpressing HoxA9 alone transforms murine bone marrow cells, concurrent Meis1 overexpression greatly accelerates oncogenesis. Meis1-HoxA9 cooperation suppresses several myeloid differentiation pathways. We now report that Meis1 overexpression strongly induces apoptosis in a variety of cell types in vitro through a caspase-dependent process. Meis1 requires a functional homeodomain and Pbx-interaction motif to induce apoptosis. Coexpressing HoxA9 with Meis1 suppresses this apoptosis and provides protection from several apoptosis inducers. Pbx1, another Meis1 cofactor, also induces apoptosis; however, coexpressing HoxA9 is incapable of rescuing Pbx-mediated apoptosis. This resistance to apoptotic stimuli, coupled with the previously reported ability to suppress multiple myeloid differentiation pathways, would provide a strong selective advantage to Meis1-HoxA9 coexpressing cells in vivo, leading to leukemogenesis.