HOXA/PBX3 knockdown impairs growth and sensitizes cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia cells to chemotherapy

Glenda J Dickson, Fabio G Liberante, Laura M Kettyle, Kathleen O'Hagan, Damian P. J. Finnegan, Lars Bullinger, Dirk Geerts, Mary Frances McMullin, Terry R. J. Lappin, Ken I. Mills, Alexander Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


The cytogenetically normal subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (CN-AML) is associated with Intermediate risk which complicates therapeutic options. Lower overall HOX/TALE expression appears to correlate with more favorable prognosis/better response to treatment in some leukemias and solid cancer. The functional significance of the associated gene expression and response to chemotherapy is not known. Three independent microarray datasets obtained from large patient cohorts along with quantitative PCR validation was used to identify a four gene HOXA/TALE signature capable of prognostic stratification. Biochemical analysis was used to identify interactions between the four encoded proteins and targeted knockdown used to examine the functional importance of sustained expression of the signature in leukemia maintenance and response to chemotherapy. An eleven HOXA/TALE code identified in an Intermediate risk (n=315) compared to a Favourable group of patients (n=105) was reduced to a four gene signature of HOXA6, HOXA9, PBX3 and MEIS1 by iterative analysis of independent platforms. This signature maintained the Favorable/Intermediate risk partition and where applicable, correlated with overall survival in CN-AML. We further show that cell growth and function is dependent on maintained levels of these core genes and that direct targeting of HOXA/PBX3 sensitizes CN-AML cells to standard chemotherapy. Together the data support a key role for HOXA/TALE in CN-AML and demonstrate that targeting of clinically significant HOXA/PBX3 elements may provide therapeutic benefit to these patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1216-1225
Number of pages10
Issue number8
Early online date28 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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