ARTICLE ABSTRACTAcute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is an aggressive blood cancer that mainly affects children. Relapse rates are high and toxic chemotherapies that block DNA replication and induce DNA damage lead to health problems later in life, underlining the need for improved therapies. MYC is a transcription factor that is hyperactive in a large proportion of cancers including leukemia but is difficult to target in therapy. We show that ablation of the function of the BTB/POZ domain factor Zbtb17 (Miz-1), an important cofactor of c-Myc, significantly delayed T- and B-ALL/lymphoma in mice and interfered with the oncogenic transcriptional activity of c-Myc. Leukemic cells that still emerged in this system activated DNA replication pathways that could be targeted by current chemotherapeutic drugs such as cytarabine. Acute ablation of the Miz-1 POZ domain enhanced the effect of cytarabine treatment. The combined treatment was effective in both Eμ-Myc and Notch ICN-driven leukemia models and prolonged survival of tumor-bearing animals by accelerating apoptosis of leukemic cells. These observations suggest that targeting MIZ-1 could render current ALL chemotherapies more effective, with a better outcome for patients.
Ablation of the POZ domain of Miz-1 perturbs its interaction with c-MYC and delays the generation of T- and B-cell leukemias and lymphomas.