Non-coding germline GATA3 variants alter chromatin topology and contribute to pathogenesis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Hongbo Yang, Hui Zhang, Yu Luan, Tingting Liu, Kathryn G. Roberts, Maoxiang Qian, Bo Zhang, Wenjian Yang, Virginia Perez-Andreu, Jie Xu, Sriranga Iyyanki, Da Kuang, Shalini C. Reshmi, Julie Gastier-Foster, Colton Smith, Ching Hon Pui, William E. Evans, Stephen P. Hunger, Leonidas C. Platanias, Mary V. RellingCharles G. Mullighan, Mignon L. Loh, Feng Yue*, Jun J. Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inherited non-coding genetic variants confer significant disease susceptibility in many cancers. However, the molecular processes of by which germline variants contribute to somatic lesions are poorly understood. We performed targeted sequencing in 5,008 patients and identified a key regulatory germline variant in GATA3 strongly associated with Philadelphia chromosome-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-like ALL). By creating an isogenic cellular model with CRISPR-Cas9 system, we showed that this variant activated a strong enhancer that significantly upregulated GATA3 transcription, which in turn reshaped the global chromatin accessibility and 3D genome organization. Remarkably, this genotype switch induced a chromatin loop between the CRLF2 oncogene and a distal enhancer, similar to the somatically acquired super-enhancer hijacking event in patients. GATA3 genotype-related alterations in transcriptional control and 3D chromatin organization were further validated in Ph-like ALL patients. Finally, we showed that GATA3 directly regulates CRLF2 and potentiates the oncogenic effects of JAK-STAT signaling in leukemogenesis. Altogether, our results provide evidence for a novel mechanism by which a germline non-coding variant contributes to oncogene activation epigenetic regulation and 3D genome reprogramming.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Feb 25 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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