Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive hematopoietic malignancy for which there is an unmet need for novel treatment strategies. Here, we characterize the growth arrest and DNA damage-inducible gene gamma (GADD45g) as a novel tumor suppressor in AML. We show that GADD45g is preferentially silenced in AML, especially in AML with FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3-internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutations and mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL)-rearrangements, and reduced expression of GADD45g is correlated with poor prognosis in AML patients. Upregulation of GADD45g impairs homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair, leading to DNA damage accumulation, and dramatically induces apoptosis, differentiation, growth arrest and increases sensitivity of AML cells to chemotherapeutic drugs, without affecting normal cells. In addition, GADD45g is epigenetically silenced by histone deacetylation in AML, and its expression is further downregulated by oncogenes FLT3-ITD and MLL-AF9 in patients carrying these genetic abnormalities. Combination of histone deacetylase 1/2 inhibitor Romidepsin with FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitor AC220 or bromodomain inhibitor JQ1 exert synergistic anti-leukemic effects on FLT3-ITD+ and MLL-AF9+ AML, respectively, by dually activating GADD45g. These findings uncover hitherto unreported evidence for the selective anti-leukemia role of GADD45g and provide novel strategies for the treatment of FLT3-ITD+ and MLL-AF9+ AML.
Dan Guo, Yangyang Zhao, Nan Wang, Na You, Wenqi Zhu, Peiwen Zhang, Qian Ren, Jing Yin, Tao Cheng, Xiaotong Ma