MEK/ERK and PI3K/AKT pathway inhibitors affect the transformation of myelodysplastic syndrome into acute myeloid leukemia via H3K27me3 methylases and de‑methylases
- Zhuanzhen Zheng
- Xiuhua Chen
- Yaofang Zhang
- Fanggang Ren
- Yanping Ma
Affiliations: Department of Hematopathology, Second Hospital of Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan, Shanxi 030001, P.R. China
- Published online on: November 3, 2023 https://doi.org/10.3892/ijo.2023.5588
Copyright: © Zheng
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The transformation of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) into acute myeloid leukemia (AML) poses a significant clinical challenge. The trimethylation of H3 on lysine 27 (H3K27me3) methylase and de‑methylase pathway is involved in the regulation of MDS progression. The present study investigated the functional mechanisms of the MEK/ERK and PI3K/AKT pathways in the MDS‑to‑AML transformation. MDS‑AML mouse and SKM‑1 cell models were first established and this was followed by treatment with the MEK/ERK pathway inhibitor, U0126, the PI3K/AKT pathway inhibitor, Ly294002, or their combination. H3K27me3 methylase, enhancer of zeste homolog (EZH)1, EZH2, demethylase Jumonji domain‑containing protein‑3 (JMJD3) and ubiquitously transcribed tetratricopeptide repeat on chromosome X (UTX) and H3K27me3 protein levels were determined using western blot analysis. Cell viability, cycle distribution and proliferation were assessed using CCK‑8, flow cytometry, EdU and colony formation assays. The ERK and AKT phosphorylation levels in clinical samples and established models were determined, and SKM‑1 cell behaviors were assessed. The levels of H3K27me3 methylases and de‑methylases and distal‑less homeobox 5 (DLX5) were measured. The results revealed that the ERK and AKT phosphorylation levels were elevated in patients with MDS and MDS‑AML, and in mouse models. Treatment with U0126, a MEK/ERK pathway inhibitor, and Ly294002, a PI3K/AKT pathway inhibitor, effectively suppressed ERK and AKT phosphorylation in mice with MDS‑AML. It was observed that mice with MDS treated with U0126/Ly294002 exhibited reduced transformation to AML, delayed disease transformation and increased survival rates. Treatment of the SKM‑1 cells with U0126/Ly294002 led to a decrease in cell viability and proliferation, and to an increase in cell cycle arrest by suppressing ERK/PI3K phosphorylation. Moreover, treatment with U0126/Ly294002 downregulated EZH2/EZH1 expression, and upregulated JMJD3/UTX expression. The effects of U0126/Ly294002 were nullified when EZH2/EZH1 was overexpressed or when JMJD3/UTX was inhibited in the SKM‑1 cells. Treatment with U0126/Ly294002 also resulted in a decreased H3K27me3 protein level and H3K27me3 level in the DLX5 promoter region, leading to an increased DLX5 expression. Overall, the findings of the present study suggest that U0126/Ly294002 participates in MDS‑AML transformation by modulating the levels of H3K27me3 methylases and de‑methylases, and regulating DLX5 transcription and expression.