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November 2015


Chromodomain helicase DNA-binding protein 4 (CHD4) is an ATPase that alters the phasing of nucleosomes on DNA and has recently been implicated in DNA double-stranded break (DSB) repair. Here, we show that depletion of CHD4 in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) blasts induces a global relaxation of chromatin that renders cells more susceptible to DSB formation, while concurrently impeding their repair. Furthermore, CHD4 depletion renders AML blasts more sensitive both in vitro and in vivo to genotoxic agents used in clinical therapy: daunorubicin (DNR) and cytarabine (ara-C). Sensitization to DNR and ara-C is mediated in part by activation of the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated pathway, which is preliminarily activated by a Tip60-dependent mechanism in response to chromatin relaxation and further activated by genotoxic agent–induced DSBs. This sensitization preferentially affects AML cells, as CHD4 depletion in normal CD34+ hematopoietic progenitors does not increase their susceptibility to DNR or ara-C. Unexpectedly, we found that CHD4 is necessary for maintaining the tumor-forming behavior of AML cells, as CHD4 depletion severely restricted the ability of AML cells to form xenografts in mice and colonies in soft agar. Taken together, these results provide evidence for CHD4 as a novel therapeutic target whose inhibition has the potential to enhance the effectiveness of genotoxic agents used in AML therapy.


Copyright © 2015 by The American Society of Hematology

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VCU Human and Molecular Genetics Publications