Increased expression of c-MYC is observed in both Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and T- cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL). MYC binding protein 2 (MYCBP2) is a probable E3 ubiquitin ligase and its function in leukemia is unknown. IKZF1 deletion is associated with the development and poor outcome of ALL. Here, we observed significant high c-MYC expression and low MYCBP2 expression in adult ALL patients. Patients with high c-MYC expression and/or low MYCBP2 expression had higher WBC counts and a higher percentage of CD34+ or CD33+ cells, as well as splenomegaly, liver infiltration, higher BM blasts, and lower CR rate. Ikaros bound to the regulatory regions of c-MYC and MYCBP2, suppressed c-MYC and increased MYCBP2 expression in ALL cells. Expression of c-MYC mRNA was significantly higher in patients with IKZF1 deletion; conversely MYCBP2 mRNA expression was significantly lower in those patients. A CK2 inhibitor, which acts as an Ikaros activator, also suppressed c-MYC and increased MYCBP2 expression in an Ikaros (IKZF1) dependent manner in the ALL cells. In summary, our data indicated the correlation of high c-MYC expression, low MYCBP2 expression and high c-MYC plus low MYCBP2 expression with high-risk factors and proliferation markers in adult ALL patients. Our data also revealed an oncogenic role for an Ikaros/MYCBP2/c-MYC axis in adult ALL, providing a mechanism of target therapies that activate Ikaros in adult ALL.
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