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; Remillard, David; Shi, Junwei et al. (2018) Targeted degradation of BRD9 reverses oncogenic gene expression in synovial sarcoma. Elife 7:
Chu, S Haihua; Song, Evelyn J; Chabon, Jonathan R et al. (2018) Inhibition of MEK and ATR is effective in a B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia model driven by Mll-Af4 and activated Ras. Blood Adv 2:2478-2490
Toska, Eneda; Osmanbeyoglu, Hatice U; Castel, Pau et al. (2017) PI3K pathway regulates ER-dependent transcription in breast cancer through the epigenetic regulator KMT2D. Science 355:1324-1330
Shortt, Jake; Ott, Christopher J; Johnstone, Ricky W et al. (2017) A chemical probe toolbox for dissecting the cancer epigenome. Nat Rev Cancer 17:160-183
Wang, K; Sanchez-Martin, M; Wang, X et al. (2017) Patient-derived xenotransplants can recapitulate the genetic driver landscape of acute leukemias. Leukemia 31:151-158
Winter, Georg E; Mayer, Andreas; Buckley, Dennis L et al. (2017) BET Bromodomain Proteins Function as Master Transcription Elongation Factors Independent of CDK9 Recruitment. Mol Cell 67:5-18.e19
Valerio, Daria G; Xu, Haiming; Eisold, Meghan E et al. (2017) Histone acetyltransferase activity of MOF is required for adult but not early fetal hematopoiesis in mice. Blood 129:48-59
Wan, Liling; Wen, Hong; Li, Yuanyuan et al. (2017) ENL links histone acetylation to oncogenic gene expression in acute myeloid leukaemia. Nature 543:265-269
Erb, Michael A; Scott, Thomas G; Li, Bin E et al. (2017) Transcription control by the ENL YEATS domain in acute leukaemia. Nature 543:270-274
Kühn, Michael W M; Song, Evelyn; Feng, Zhaohui et al. (2016) Targeting Chromatin Regulators Inhibits Leukemogenic Gene Expression in NPM1 Mutant Leukemia. Cancer Discov 6:1166-1181

Showing the most recent 10 out of 31 publications