Posttranslationally modified histones and DNA hypermethylation frequently interplay to deregulate gene expression in cancer. We report that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with an aberrant histone methyltransferase, the mixed lineage leukemia partial tandem duplication (MLL-PTD), exhibits increased global DNA methylation versus AML with AfLL-wildtype (MLL-WT; P=.02). Among the differentially methylated genes, the SLC5A8 tumor suppressor gene (TSG) was more frequently hypermethylated (P=.003). In MLL-PTD+ cell lines having SLC5A8 promoter hypermethylation, incubation with decitabine activated SLC5A8 expression. Ectopic SLC5A8 expression enhanced histones H3 and H4 acetylation in response to the histone deacetylase inhibitor, valproate, consistent with the encoded protein-SMCT1-short-chain fatty acid transport function. In addition, enhanced cell death was observed in SMCT1-expressing MLL-PTD+ AML cells treated with valproate. Within the majority of MLL-PJD AML is a mechanism in which DNA hypermethylation silences a TSG that, together with MLL-PTD, can contribute further to aberrant chromatin remodeling and altered gene expression.
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