Increased understanding ofthe epigenetic mechanisms that control gene expression programs important for leukemia development and survival provides exciting new opportunities for therapeutic intervention. Specifically, methylation or acetylation of histones maintains gene expression programs necessary for leukemia cell proliferation and survival. The central hypothesis for this project is that small molecule inhibitors of histone modifications will effectively target acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells. We will assess this through the use novel small molecules, chemical biological approaches, novel mouse models and genetic screens.
In specific aim 1 we will work to define a role for D0T1L inhibition in MLL- Rearranged ALL through characterization of a potent, specific D0T1L inhibitor that has remarkably selective anti-proliferative and proapoptotic effects on MLL-rearranged ALL cells.
In aim 2 we will develop assays and use novel chemical approaches for high-throughput identification of new small molecule DOT1L inhibitors.
In specific aim 3 we will work with to develop rationale for clinical development of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors as therapies for ALL, with a particular focus on leukemias that result in high end-induction MRD. We will also determine rational combinations of HDAC inhibitors and proapototic molecules and with ploidy- specific agents, and evaluate specific HDAC1 and HDAC2 inhibitors as potential ALL-directed therapeutics. Based on preclinical data, we will assess HDAC inhibitors in relapsed ALL. We expect these aims to bring new more efficacious, less toxic therapies to children and adults diagnosed with ALL.

Public Health Relevance

While improvements have been made in the treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), children diagnosed with ALL harboring MLL-rearrangements continue to do poody. Also, specific subsets of children and most adults diagnosed with ALL continue to have poor outcomes. In this project we will characterize new small molecules that target D0T1L, a histone methyltransferase important for survival of yWLL-rearranged leukemias. We will also assess both pan-histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors and newly developed HDAC1/HDAC2 specific inhibitors as potential therapeutics against ALL cells.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1-RPRB-J (O1))
Program Officer
Merritt, William D
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research
New York
United States
Zip Code
Brien, Gerard L; Valerio, Daria G; Armstrong, Scott A (2016) Exploiting the Epigenome to Control Cancer-Promoting Gene-Expression Programs. Cancer Cell 29:464-76
Roberts, Justin M; Bradner, James E (2015) A Bead-Based Proximity Assay for BRD4 Ligand Discovery. Curr Protoc Chem Biol 7:263-78
Stubbs, Matthew C; Kim, Wonil; Bariteau, Megan et al. (2015) Selective Inhibition of HDAC1 and HDAC2 as a Potential Therapeutic Option for B-ALL. Clin Cancer Res 21:2348-58
Yi, Joanna S; Federation, Alexander J; Qi, Jun et al. (2015) Structure-guided DOT1L probe optimization by label-free ligand displacement. ACS Chem Biol 10:667-74
Winter, Georg E; Buckley, Dennis L; Paulk, Joshiawa et al. (2015) DRUG DEVELOPMENT. Phthalimide conjugation as a strategy for in vivo target protein degradation. Science 348:1376-81
Chen, Shoudeng; Yang, Ze; Wilkinson, Alex W et al. (2015) The PZP Domain of AF10 Senses Unmodified H3K27 to Regulate DOT1L-Mediated Methylation of H3K79. Mol Cell 60:319-27
Chen, Chun-Wei; Koche, Richard P; Sinha, Amit U et al. (2015) DOT1L inhibits SIRT1-mediated epigenetic silencing to maintain leukemic gene expression in MLL-rearranged leukemia. Nat Med 21:335-43
Chen, Mo; Zhu, Nan; Liu, Xiaochuan et al. (2015) JMJD1C is required for the survival of acute myeloid leukemia by functioning as a coactivator for key transcription factors. Genes Dev 29:2123-39
Chen, Chun-Wei; Armstrong, Scott A (2015) Targeting DOT1L and HOX gene expression in MLL-rearranged leukemia and beyond. Exp Hematol 43:673-84
Deshpande, Aniruddha J; Deshpande, Anagha; Sinha, Amit U et al. (2014) AF10 regulates progressive H3K79 methylation and HOX gene expression in diverse AML subtypes. Cancer Cell 26:896-908

Showing the most recent 10 out of 13 publications