Requirement for Lyl1 in a model of Lmo2-driven early T-cell precursor ALL.
McCormack MP., Shields BJ., Jackson JT., Nasa C., Shi W., Slater NJ., Tremblay CS., Rabbitts TH., Curtis DJ.
Lmo2 is an oncogenic transcription factor that is frequently overexpressed in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), including early T-cell precursor ALL (ETP-ALL) cases with poor prognosis. Lmo2 must be recruited to DNA by binding to the hematopoietic basic helix-loop-helix factors Scl/Tal1 or Lyl1. However, it is unknown which of these factors can mediate the leukemic activity of Lmo2. To address this, we have generated Lmo2-transgenic mice lacking either Scl or Lyl1 in the thymus. We show that although Scl is dispensable for Lmo2-driven leukemia, Lyl1 is critical for all oncogenic functions of Lmo2, including upregulation of a stem cell-like gene signature, aberrant self-renewal of thymocytes, and subsequent generation of T-cell leukemia. Lyl1 expression is restricted to preleukemic and leukemic stem cell populations in this model, providing a molecular explanation for the stage-specific expression of the Lmo2-induced gene expression program. Moreover, LMO2 and LYL1 are coexpressed in ETP-ALL patient samples, and LYL1 is required for growth of ETP-ALL cell lines. Thus, the LMO2-LYL1 interaction is a promising therapeutic target for inhibiting self-renewing cancer stem cells in T-ALL, including poor-prognosis ETP-ALL cases.