Cytosine methylation is involved in a variety of biological processes, including development, X-chromosome inactivation, imprinting, and suppressing unwanted transcription. DNA methylation in mammalian cells is catalyzed by several DNA methyltransferases, including DNMT1, DNMT3A and DNMT3B. In addition to DNA methylation catalysis, these enzymes interact with a number of repressive proteins including HDACs, thereby repressing transcription in methylation-independent manner. The extent to which methylation-dependent and independent activities play roles in biological processes remains poorly understood. Here we examined the role of methyltransferase (MT) activity of Dnmt3b in normal mouse embryogenesis and in prevention of hematologic malignancies. Loss of Dnmt3b in mice is embryonically lethal between 10.5-12.5 dpc. Dnmt3b was also identified as tumor suppressor in murine models of lymphoid and myeloid malignancies. To address whether Dnmt3b’s catalytic activity is important for mouse embryogenesis and prevention of hematologic malignancies, we generated mice bearing a conventional Dnmt3bCI allele using CRISPR/Cas9 system. This catalytically inactive allele of Dnmt3b (Dnmt3bCI) was generated by a double amino acid substitution in enzyme active center (P656V and C657D) abolishing its ability to perform transfer of methyl group onto cytosine. Surprisingly, Dnmt3bCI/CI mice were born at similar ratios as wild-type littermates and lived over 12 months suggesting that Dnmt3b is dispensable for both pre- and post-natal development. Importantly, MYC-induced T-cell lymphomagenesis was accelerated in the absence of Dnmt3b’s methyltransferase activity in MYC;Dnmt3bCI/CI mice. Global gene expression and methylation profiling revealed a number of deregulated events specific for MYC;Dnmt3bCI/CI, resulting in activation of Pak, Fgfr and Igf2 signaling and downregulation of tumor suppressors (e.g. Lrp12, Dusp6 and Marcks). The lack of Dnmt3b catalytic activity also accelerated a development of acute myeloid leukemia induced by MLL-AF9 overexpression in mice. Altogether, our data suggest that Dnmt3b’s MT activity is dispensable for mouse development but critical to prevent hematologic malignancies.

Citation Format: Katarina Lopusna, Pawel Nowialis, Staci L. Haney, Ajay Abraham, Jana Opavska, Rene Opavsky. Critical role of Dnmt3b catalytic activity in prevention of oncogene-induced leukemias and lymphomas [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2019; 2019 Mar 29-Apr 3; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2019;79(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 4339.