ZNF384-rearranged fusion oncoproteins (FO) define a subset of lineage ambiguous leukemias, but their mechanistic role in leukemogenesis and lineage ambiguity is poorly understood. Using viral expression in mouse and human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) and a Ep300::Znf384 knockin mouse model, we show that ZNF384 FO promote hematopoietic expansion, myeloid lineage skewing, and self-renewal. In mouse HSPCs, concomitant lesions, such as NRASG12D, were required for fully penetrant leukemia, whereas in human HSPCs, expression of ZNF384 FO drove B/myeloid leukemia, with sensitivity of a ZNF384-rearranged xenograft to FLT3 inhibition in vivo. Mechanistically, ZNF384 FO occupy a subset of predominantly intragenic/enhancer regions with increased histone 3 lysine acetylation and deregulate expression of hematopoietic stem cell transcription factors. These data define a paradigm for FO-driven lineage ambiguous leukemia, in which expression in HSPCs results in deregulation of lineage-specific genes and hematopoietic skewing, progressing to full leukemia in the context of proliferative stress.
Expression of ZNF384 FO early in hematopoiesis results in binding and deregulation of key hematopoietic regulators, skewing of hematopoiesis, and priming for leukemic transformation. These results reveal the interplay between cell of origin and expression of ZNF384 FO to mediate lineage ambiguity and leukemia development.
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