Noncoding variants connect enhancer dysregulation with nuclear receptor signaling in hematopoietic malignancies

Kailong Li, Yuannyu Zhang, Xin Liu, Yuxuan Liu, Zhimin Gu, Hui Cao, Kathryn E. Dickerson, Mingyi Chen, Weina Chen, Zhen Shao, Min Ni, Jian Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Mutations in protein-coding genes are well established as the basis for human can-cer, yet how alterations within noncoding genome, a substantial fraction of which contain cis-regulatory elements (CRE), contribute to cancer pathophysiology remains elusive. Here, we developed an integrative approach to systematically identify and characterize noncoding regulatory variants with functional consequences in human hematopoietic malignancies. Combining targeted resequencing of hematopoietic lineage–associated CREs and mutation discovery, we uncovered 1,836 recurrently mutated CREs containing leukemia-associated noncoding variants. By enhanced CRISPR/ dCas9–based CRE perturbation screening and functional analyses, we identified 218 variant-associ-ated oncogenic or tumor-suppressive CREs in human leukemia. Noncoding variants at KRAS and PER2 enhancers reside in proximity to nuclear receptor (NR) binding regions and modulate transcriptional activities in response to NR signaling in leukemia cells. NR binding sites frequently colocalize with non-coding variants across cancer types. Hence, recurrent noncoding variants connect enhancer dysregula-tion with nuclear receptor signaling in hematopoietic malignancies. SIGNIFICANCE: We describe an integrative approach to identify noncoding variants in human leukemia, and reveal cohorts of variant-associated oncogenic and tumor-suppressive cis-regulatory elements including KRAS and PER2 enhancers. Our findings support a model in which noncoding regulatory variants connect enhancer dysregulation with nuclear receptor signaling to modulate gene programs in hematopoietic malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)724-745
Number of pages22
JournalCancer discovery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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