Gene Summary

Gene:KMT2C; lysine (K)-specific methyltransferase 2C
Aliases: HALR, MLL3
Summary:This gene is a member of the myeloid/lymphoid or mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) family and encodes a nuclear protein with an AT hook DNA-binding domain, a DHHC-type zinc finger, six PHD-type zinc fingers, a SET domain, a post-SET domain and a RING-type zinc finger. This protein is a member of the ASC-2/NCOA6 complex (ASCOM), which possesses histone methylation activity and is involved in transcriptional coactivation. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:histone-lysine N-methyltransferase 2C
Source:NCBIAccessed: 27 February, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 27 February 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 27 February, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (1)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: KMT2C (cancer-related)

Gao YB, Chen ZL, Li JG, et al.
Genetic landscape of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Nat Genet. 2014; 46(10):1097-102 [PubMed] Related Publications
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) is one of the deadliest cancers. We performed exome sequencing on 113 tumor-normal pairs, yielding a mean of 82 non-silent mutations per tumor, and 8 cell lines. The mutational profile of ESCC closely resembles those of squamous cell carcinomas of other tissues but differs from that of esophageal adenocarcinoma. Genes involved in cell cycle and apoptosis regulation were mutated in 99% of cases by somatic alterations of TP53 (93%), CCND1 (33%), CDKN2A (20%), NFE2L2 (10%) and RB1 (9%). Histone modifier genes were frequently mutated, including KMT2D (also called MLL2; 19%), KMT2C (MLL3; 6%), KDM6A (7%), EP300 (10%) and CREBBP (6%). EP300 mutations were associated with poor survival. The Hippo and Notch pathways were dysregulated by mutations in FAT1, FAT2, FAT3 or FAT4 (27%) or AJUBA (JUB; 7%) and NOTCH1, NOTCH2 or NOTCH3 (22%) or FBXW7 (5%), respectively. These results define the mutational landscape of ESCC and highlight mutations in epigenetic modulators with prognostic and potentially therapeutic implications.

Li B, Liu HY, Guo SH, et al.
A missense mutation (S3660L) in MLL3 gene influences risk of gastric cancer.
J BUON. 2014 Apr-Jun; 19(2):394-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Several studies indicated that the expression level of MLL3 gene in gastric cancer tissue was associated with prognosis, and previous studies also suggested that genetic polymorphisms of MLL3 were related to the risk for gastric cancer. The present study aimed to investigate the association of a missense mutation (S3660L) in the MLL3 gene with gastric cancer risk in a Chinese population.
METHODS: In the present study, we identified a novel missense mutation in MLL3 gene (S3660L) by directly sequencing method in 48 gastric cancer patients. To further explore the relation between gastric cancer and this mutation, we selected 354 gastric cancer patients and 377 healthy control subjects and designed a case-control study.
RESULTS: We found that the AG genotype (14.9 vs 6.40%, odds ratio/OR=2.58, 95% CI: 1.33-4.54, p<0.001) and A allele (7.5 vs 3.2%, OR=2.46, 95% CI: 1.55~5.34, p<0.001) were common in the gastric cancer patients than in the control subjects.
CONCLUSION: We concluded that this novel missense (S3660L) mutation in MLL3 gene is likely to increase the gastric cancer risk.

Chen C, Liu Y, Rappaport AR, et al.
MLL3 is a haploinsufficient 7q tumor suppressor in acute myeloid leukemia.
Cancer Cell. 2014; 25(5):652-65 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Recurring deletions of chromosome 7 and 7q [-7/del(7q)] occur in myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and are associated with poor prognosis. However, the identity of functionally relevant tumor suppressors on 7q remains unclear. Using RNAi and CRISPR/Cas9 approaches, we show that an ∼50% reduction in gene dosage of the mixed lineage leukemia 3 (MLL3) gene, located on 7q36.1, cooperates with other events occurring in -7/del(7q) AMLs to promote leukemogenesis. Mll3 suppression impairs the differentiation of HSPC. Interestingly, Mll3-suppressed leukemias, like human -7/del(7q) AMLs, are refractory to conventional chemotherapy but sensitive to the BET inhibitor JQ1. Thus, our mouse model functionally validates MLL3 as a haploinsufficient 7q tumor suppressor and suggests a therapeutic option for this aggressive disease.

Mouradov D, Sloggett C, Jorissen RN, et al.
Colorectal cancer cell lines are representative models of the main molecular subtypes of primary cancer.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(12):3238-47 [PubMed] Related Publications
Human colorectal cancer cell lines are used widely to investigate tumor biology, experimental therapy, and biomarkers. However, to what extent these established cell lines represent and maintain the genetic diversity of primary cancers is uncertain. In this study, we profiled 70 colorectal cancer cell lines for mutations and DNA copy number by whole-exome sequencing and SNP microarray analyses, respectively. Gene expression was defined using RNA-Seq. Cell line data were compared with those published for primary colorectal cancers in The Cancer Genome Atlas. Notably, we found that exome mutation and DNA copy-number spectra in colorectal cancer cell lines closely resembled those seen in primary colorectal tumors. Similarities included the presence of two hypermutation phenotypes, as defined by signatures for defective DNA mismatch repair and DNA polymerase ε proofreading deficiency, along with concordant mutation profiles in the broadly altered WNT, MAPK, PI3K, TGFβ, and p53 pathways. Furthermore, we documented mutations enriched in genes involved in chromatin remodeling (ARID1A, CHD6, and SRCAP) and histone methylation or acetylation (ASH1L, EP300, EP400, MLL2, MLL3, PRDM2, and TRRAP). Chromosomal instability was prevalent in nonhypermutated cases, with similar patterns of chromosomal gains and losses. Although paired cell lines derived from the same tumor exhibited considerable mutation and DNA copy-number differences, in silico simulations suggest that these differences mainly reflected a preexisting heterogeneity in the tumor cells. In conclusion, our results establish that human colorectal cancer lines are representative of the main subtypes of primary tumors at the genomic level, further validating their utility as tools to investigate colorectal cancer biology and drug responses.

Huhn S, Bevier M, Pardini B, et al.
Colorectal cancer risk and patients' survival: influence of polymorphisms in genes somatically mutated in colorectal tumors.
Cancer Causes Control. 2014; 25(6):759-69 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: The first two studies aiming for the high-throughput identification of the somatic mutation spectrum of colorectal cancer (CRC) tumors were published in 2006 and 2007. Using exome sequencing, they described 69 and 140 candidate cancer genes (CAN genes), respectively. We hypothesized that germline variants in these genes may influence CRC risk, similar to APC, which is causing CRC through germline and somatic mutations.
METHODS: After excluding the well-established CRC genes APC, KRAS, TP53, and ABCA1, we analyzed 35 potentially functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 10 CAN genes (OBSCN, MLL3, PKHD1, SYNE1, ERCC6, FBXW7, EPHB6/TRPV6, ELAC1/SMAD4, EPHA3, and ADAMTSL3) using KBiosciences Competitive Allele-Specific PCR™ genotyping assays. In addition to CRC risk (1,399 CRC cases, 838 controls), we also considered the influence of the SNPs on patients' survival (406 cases).
RESULTS: In spite of the fact that our in silico analyses suggested functional relevance for the studied genes and SNPs, our data did not support a strong influence of the studied germline variants on CRC risk and survival. The strongest association with CRC risk and survival was found for MLL3 (rs6464211, OR 1.50, p = 0.002, dominant model; HR 2.12, p = 0.020, recessive model). Two SNPs in EPHB6/TRPV6 (dominant model) showed marginal associations with survival (rs4987622 HR 0.58 p = 0.028 and rs6947538 HR 0.64, p = 0.036, respectively).
CONCLUSION: Although somatic mutations in the CAN genes have been related to the development and progression of various types of cancers in several next-generation sequencing or expression analyses, our study suggests that the studied potentially functional germline variants are not likely to affect CRC risk or survival.

Song Y, Li L, Ou Y, et al.
Identification of genomic alterations in oesophageal squamous cell cancer.
Nature. 2014; 509(7498):91-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
Oesophageal cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers and is the sixth leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Approximately 70% of global oesophageal cancer cases occur in China, with oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) being the histopathological form in the vast majority of cases (>90%). Currently, there are limited clinical approaches for the early diagnosis and treatment of ESCC, resulting in a 10% five-year survival rate for patients. However, the full repertoire of genomic events leading to the pathogenesis of ESCC remains unclear. Here we describe a comprehensive genomic analysis of 158 ESCC cases, as part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium research project. We conducted whole-genome sequencing in 17 ESCC cases and whole-exome sequencing in 71 cases, of which 53 cases, plus an additional 70 ESCC cases not used in the whole-genome and whole-exome sequencing, were subjected to array comparative genomic hybridization analysis. We identified eight significantly mutated genes, of which six are well known tumour-associated genes (TP53, RB1, CDKN2A, PIK3CA, NOTCH1, NFE2L2), and two have not previously been described in ESCC (ADAM29 and FAM135B). Notably, FAM135B is identified as a novel cancer-implicated gene as assayed for its ability to promote malignancy of ESCC cells. Additionally, MIR548K, a microRNA encoded in the amplified 11q13.3-13.4 region, is characterized as a novel oncogene, and functional assays demonstrate that MIR548K enhances malignant phenotypes of ESCC cells. Moreover, we have found that several important histone regulator genes (MLL2 (also called KMT2D), ASH1L, MLL3 (KMT2C), SETD1B, CREBBP and EP300) are frequently altered in ESCC. Pathway assessment reveals that somatic aberrations are mainly involved in the Wnt, cell cycle and Notch pathways. Genomic analyses suggest that ESCC and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma share some common pathogenic mechanisms, and ESCC development is associated with alcohol drinking. This study has explored novel biological markers and tumorigenic pathways that would greatly improve therapeutic strategies for ESCC.

Herz HM, Hu D, Shilatifard A
Enhancer malfunction in cancer.
Mol Cell. 2014; 53(6):859-66 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 20/03/2015 Related Publications
Why certain point mutations in a general transcription factor are associated with specific forms of cancer has been a major question in cancer biology. Enhancers are DNA regulatory elements that are key regulators of tissue-specific gene expression. Recent studies suggest that enhancer malfunction through point mutations in either regulatory elements or factors modulating enhancer-promoter communication could be the cause of tissue-specific cancer development. In this Perspective, we will discuss recent findings in the identification of cancer-related enhancer mutations and the role of Drosophila Trr and its human homologs, the MLL3 and MLL4/COMPASS-like complexes, as enhancer histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) monomethyltransferases functioning in enhancer-promoter communication. Recent genome-wide studies in the cataloging of somatic mutations in cancer have identified mutations in intergenic sequences encoding regulatory elements-and in MLL3 and MLL4 in both hematological malignancies and solid tumors. We propose that cancer-associated mutations in MLL3 and MLL4 exert their properties through the malfunction of Trr/MLL3/MLL4-dependent enhancers.

Bhan A, Hussain I, Ansari KI, et al.
Bisphenol-A and diethylstilbestrol exposure induces the expression of breast cancer associated long noncoding RNA HOTAIR in vitro and in vivo.
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2014; 141:160-70 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Antisense transcript, long non-coding RNA HOTAIR is a key player in gene silencing and breast cancer and is transcriptionally regulated by estradiol. Here, we have investigated if HOTAIR expression is misregulated by bisphenol-A (BPA) and diethylstilbestrol (DES). Our findings demonstrate BPA and DES induce HOTAIR expression in cultured human breast cancer cells (MCF7) as well as in vivo in the mammary glands of rat. Luciferase assay showed that HOTAIR promoter estrogen-response-elements (EREs) are induced by BPA and DES. Estrogen-receptors (ERs) and ER-coregulators such as MLL-histone methylases (MLL1 and MLL3) bind to the HOTAIR promoter EREs in the presence of BPA and DES, modify chromatin (histone methylation and acetylation) and lead to gene activation. Knockdown of ERs down-regulated the BPA and DES-induced expression of HOTAIR. In summary, our results demonstrate that BPA and DES exposure alters the epigenetic programming of the HOTAIR promoters leading to its endocrine disruption in vitro and in vivo.

Ibragimova I, Dulaimi E, Slifker MJ, et al.
A global profile of gene promoter methylation in treatment-naïve urothelial cancer.
Epigenetics. 2014; 9(5):760-73 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
The epigenetic alteration of aberrant hypermethylation in the promoter CpG island of a gene is associated with repression of transcription. In neoplastic cells, aberrant hypermethylation is well described as a mechanism of allele inactivation of particular genes with a tumor suppressor function. To investigate the role of aberrant hypermethylation in the biology and progression of urothelial cancer, we examined 101 urothelial (transitional cell) carcinomas (UC), broadly representative of the disease at presentation, with no prior immunotherapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, by Infinium HM27 containing 14,495 genes. The genome-wide signature of aberrant promoter hypermethylation in UC consisted of 729 genes significant by a Wilcoxon test, hypermethylated in a CpG island within 1 kb of the transcriptional start site and unmethylated in normal urothelium from aged individuals. We examined differences in gene methylation between the two main groups of UC: the 75% that are superficial, which often recur but rarely progress, and the 25% with muscle invasion and poor prognosis. We further examined pairwise comparisons of the pathologic subgroups of high or low grade, invasive or non-invasive (pTa), and high grade superficial or low grade superficial UC. Pathways analysis indicated over-representation of genes involved in cell adhesion or metabolism in muscle-invasive UC. Notably, the TET2 epigenetic regulator was one of only two genes more frequently methylated in superficial tumors and the sole gene in low grade UC. Other chromatin remodeling genes, MLL3 and ACTL6B, also showed aberrant hypermethylation. The Infinium methylation value for representative genes was verified by pyrosequencing. An available mRNA expression data set indicated many of the hypermethylated genes of interest to be downregulated in UC. Unsupervised clustering of the most differentially methylated genes distinguished muscle invasive from superficial UC. After filtering, cluster analysis showed a CpG Island Methylator Phenotype (CIMP)-like pattern of widespread methylation in 11 (11%) tumors. Nine of these 11 tumors had hypermethylation of TET2. Our analysis provides a basis for further studies of hypermethylation in the development and progression of UC.

Gu DL, Chen YH, Shih JH, et al.
Target genes discovery through copy number alteration analysis in human hepatocellular carcinoma.
World J Gastroenterol. 2013; 19(47):8873-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
High-throughput short-read sequencing of exomes and whole cancer genomes in multiple human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cohorts confirmed previously identified frequently mutated somatic genes, such as TP53, CTNNB1 and AXIN1, and identified several novel genes with moderate mutation frequencies, including ARID1A, ARID2, MLL, MLL2, MLL3, MLL4, IRF2, ATM, CDKN2A, FGF19, PIK3CA, RPS6KA3, JAK1, KEAP1, NFE2L2, C16orf62, LEPR, RAC2, and IL6ST. Functional classification of these mutated genes suggested that alterations in pathways participating in chromatin remodeling, Wnt/β-catenin signaling, JAK/STAT signaling, and oxidative stress play critical roles in HCC tumorigenesis. Nevertheless, because there are few druggable genes used in HCC therapy, the identification of new therapeutic targets through integrated genomic approaches remains an important task. Because a large amount of HCC genomic data genotyped by high density single nucleotide polymorphism arrays is deposited in the public domain, copy number alteration (CNA) analyses of these arrays is a cost-effective way to reveal target genes through profiling of recurrent and overlapping amplicons, homozygous deletions and potentially unbalanced chromosomal translocations accumulated during HCC progression. Moreover, integration of CNAs with other high-throughput genomic data, such as aberrantly coding transcriptomes and non-coding gene expression in human HCC tissues and rodent HCC models, provides lines of evidence that can be used to facilitate the identification of novel HCC target genes with the potential of improving the survival of HCC patients.

Valentine MC, Linabery AM, Chasnoff S, et al.
Excess congenital non-synonymous variation in leukemia-associated genes in MLL- infant leukemia: a Children's Oncology Group report.
Leukemia. 2014; 28(6):1235-41 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Infant leukemia (IL) is a rare sporadic cancer with a grim prognosis. Although most cases are accompanied by MLL rearrangements and harbor very few somatic mutations, less is known about the genetics of the cases without MLL translocations. We performed the largest exome-sequencing study to date on matched non-cancer DNA from pairs of mothers and IL patients to characterize congenital variation that may contribute to early leukemogenesis. Using the COSMIC database to define acute leukemia-associated candidate genes, we find a significant enrichment of rare, potentially functional congenital variation in IL patients compared with randomly selected genes within the same patients and unaffected pediatric controls. IL acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients had more overall variation than IL acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) patients, but less of that variation was inherited from mothers. Of our candidate genes, we found that MLL3 was a compound heterozygote in every infant who developed AML and 50% of infants who developed ALL. These data suggest a model by which known genetic mechanisms for leukemogenesis could be disrupted without an abundance of somatic mutation or chromosomal rearrangements. This model would be consistent with existing models for the establishment of leukemia clones in utero and the high rate of IL concordance in monozygotic twins.

Jiao Y, Yonescu R, Offerhaus GJ, et al.
Whole-exome sequencing of pancreatic neoplasms with acinar differentiation.
J Pathol. 2014; 232(4):428-35 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Pancreatic carcinomas with acinar differentiation, including acinar cell carcinoma, pancreatoblastoma and carcinomas with mixed differentiation, are distinct pancreatic neoplasms with poor prognosis. Although recent whole-exome sequencing analyses have defined the somatic mutations that characterize the other major neoplasms of the pancreas, the molecular alterations underlying pancreatic carcinomas with acinar differentiation remain largely unknown. In the current study, we sequenced the exomes of 23 surgically resected pancreatic carcinomas with acinar differentiation. These analyses revealed a relatively large number of genetic alterations at both the individual base pair and chromosomal levels. There was an average of 119 somatic mutations/carcinoma. When three outliers were excluded, there was an average of 64 somatic mutations/tumour (range 12-189). The mean fractional allelic loss (FAL) was 0.27 (range 0-0.89) and heterogeneity at the chromosome level was confirmed in selected cases using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). No gene was mutated in >30% of the cancers. Genes altered in other neoplasms of the pancreas were occasionally targeted in carcinomas with acinar differentiation; SMAD4 was mutated in six tumours (26%), TP53 in three (13%), GNAS in two (9%), RNF43 in one (4%) and MEN1 in one (4%). Somatic mutations were identified in genes in which constitutional alterations are associated with familial pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, such as ATM, BRCA2 and PALB2 (one tumour each), as well as in genes altered in extra-pancreatic neoplasms, such as JAK1 in four tumours (17%), BRAF in three (13%), RB1 in three (13%), APC in two (9%), PTEN in two (9%), ARID1A in two (9%), MLL3 in two (9%) and BAP1 in one (4%). Perhaps most importantly, we found that more than one-third of these carcinomas have potentially targetable genetic alterations, including mutations in BRCA2, PALB2, ATM, BAP1, BRAF and JAK1.

Lohberger B, Stuendl N, Wolf E, et al.
The novel myxofibrosarcoma cell line MUG-Myx1 expresses a tumourigenic stem-like cell population with high aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 activity.
BMC Cancer. 2013; 13:563 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Myxofibrosarcoma comprises a spectrum of malignant neoplasms withprominent myxoid stromata, cellular pleomorphism, and distinct curvilinear vascular patterns. These neoplasms mainly affect patients in the sixth to eighth decades of life and the overall 5-year survival rate is 60-70%.
METHODS: After the establishment of the novel myxofibrosarcoma cell lines MUG-Myx1, cells were characterized using short tandem repeat (STR), copy number variation (CNV), and genotype/loss-of-heterozygosity (LOH) analyses. The growth behaviour of the cells was analyzed with the xCELLigence system and an MTS assay. The tumourigenicity of MUG-Myx1 was proved in NOD/SCID mice. Additionally, a stem-like cell population with high enzymatic activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1(high)) was isolated for the first time from myxofibrosarcoma cells using the Aldefluor® assay followed by FACS analysis.
RESULTS: The frozen primary parental tumour tissue and the MUG-Myx1 cell line showed the same STR profile at the markers D3S1358, TH01, D21S11, D18S51, Penta E, D5S818, D13S317, D7S820, D16S539, CSF1PO, Penta D, Amelogenin, D8S1179, TPOX, and FGY. Typically, myxofibrosarcoma gain and/or amplification was mapped to 7p21.3-q31.1, q31.1-q31.33, q33-q36.2, p21.3, p21.2, p14.1-q11.23, q31.33-q33, p21.2-p14.1, q11.23-q21.3, q36.2-q36.3, which, respectively are known to harbour tumour-associated genes, including TIF, BRAF, MLL3, SMO, and MET. Typically an LOH for myxofibrosarcoma on chr5 q21 was found. In addition, MUG-Myx1 ALDH1(high) cells showed an upregulation of the ABC transporter ABCB1 and ABCG2; higher c-Myc, E-cadherin and SOX-2 expression; and a higher potential for tumourigenicity and proliferation levels.
CONCLUSION: The new myxofibrosarcoma cell line MUG-Myx1 was established to enrich the bank of publicly available cell lines, with respect to providing comprehensive genetic and epigenetic characterization. Furthermore, because of their tumourigenicity, the cell line is also suitable for in vivo experiments.

Hu D, Gao X, Morgan MA, et al.
The MLL3/MLL4 branches of the COMPASS family function as major histone H3K4 monomethylases at enhancers.
Mol Cell Biol. 2013; 33(23):4745-54 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) can be mono-, di-, and trimethylated by members of the COMPASS (complex of proteins associated with Set1) family from Saccharomyces cerevisiae to humans, and these modifications can be found at distinct regions of the genome. Monomethylation of histone H3K4 (H3K4me1) is relatively more enriched at metazoan enhancer regions compared to trimethylated histone H3K4 (H3K4me3), which is enriched at transcription start sites in all eukaryotes. Our recent studies of Drosophila melanogaster demonstrated that the Trithorax-related (Trr) branch of the COMPASS family regulates enhancer activity and is responsible for the implementation of H3K4me1 at these regions. There are six COMPASS family members in mammals, two of which, MLL3 (GeneID 58508) and MLL4 (GeneID 8085), are most closely related to Drosophila Trr. Here, we use chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) of this class of COMPASS family members in both human HCT116 cells and mouse embryonic stem cells and find that MLL4 is preferentially found at enhancer regions. MLL3 and MLL4 are frequently mutated in cancer, and indeed, the widely used HCT116 cancer cell line contains inactivating mutations in the MLL3 gene. Using HCT116 cells in which MLL4 has also been knocked out, we demonstrate that MLL3 and MLL4 are major regulators of H3K4me1 in these cells, with the greatest loss of monomethylation at enhancer regions. Moreover, we find a redundant role between Mll3 (GeneID 231051) and Mll4 (GeneID 381022) in enhancer H3K4 monomethylation in mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) cells. These findings suggest that mammalian MLL3 and MLL4 function in the regulation of enhancer activity and that mutations of MLL3 and MLL4 that are found in cancers could exert their properties through malfunction of these Trr/MLL3/MLL4-specific (Trrific) enhancers.

Wadhwa R, Song S, Lee JS, et al.
Gastric cancer-molecular and clinical dimensions.
Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2013; 10(11):643-55 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Gastric cancer imposes a considerable health burden around the globe despite its declining incidence. The disease is often diagnosed in advanced stages and is associated with a poor prognosis for patients. An in-depth understanding of the molecular underpinnings of gastric cancer has lagged behind many other cancers of similar incidence and morbidity, owing to our limited knowledge of germline susceptibility traits for risk and somatic drivers of progression (to identify novel therapeutic targets). A few germline (PLCE1) and somatic (ERBB2, ERBB3, PTEN, PI3K/AKT/mTOR, FGF, TP53, CDH1 and MET) alterations are emerging and some are being pursued clinically. Novel somatic gene targets (ARID1A, FAT4, MLL and KMT2C) have also been identified and are of interest. Variations in the therapeutic approaches dependent on geographical region are evident for localized gastric cancer-differences that are driven by preferences for the adjuvant strategies and the extent of surgery coupled with philosophical divides. However, greater uniformity in approach has been noted in the metastatic cancer setting, an incurable condition. Having realized only modest successes, momentum is building for carrying out more phase III comparative trials, with some using biomarker-based patient selection strategies. Overall, rapid progress in biotechnology is improving our molecular understanding and can help with new drug discovery. The future prospects are excellent for defining biomarker-based subsets of patients and application of specific therapeutics. However, many challenges remain to be tackled. Here, we review representative molecular and clinical dimensions of gastric cancer.

Li B, Liu HY, Guo SH, et al.
Mll3 genetic variants affect risk of gastric cancer in the chinese han population.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013; 14(7):4239-42 [PubMed] Related Publications
It is reported that the expression level of MLL3 in gastric cancer tissue highly correlates with tumor progression. However, whether MLL3 genetic variants are associated with the risk of gastric cancer remains unclear. In this study, we conducted a genotyping analysis for MLL3 in 314 cases of gastric cancer and 322 controls from the Chinese Han population. 4 SNPs (rs6943984, rs4725443, rs3800836, rs6464211) were selected for the present analysis. We found 2 SNPs (rs6943984, rs4725443) of MLL3 gene were significantly associated with the risk of gastric cancer : the rs6943984 with the minor allele A and rs4725443 with the minor allele C revealed strong associations with increased gastric cancer risk [P <0.001, OR=1.97, 95% CI=1.48~2.64 and P <0.001, OR = 2.23, 95% CI = 1.54~3.24]. Haplotype analysis of the four SNPs showed that haplotype A-T-A-C, G-T-G-C, and G-C-A-C increased the risk of gastric cancer (P <0.001, P=0.18, and P<0.001, respectively), while haplotype G-T-A-C significantly reduced the risk of gastric cancer (P <0.001). We concluded that MLL3 variants are significantly associated with gastric cancer risk. Our results for the first time provided new insight into susceptibility factors of MLL3 gene variants in carcinogenesis of gastric cancer of the Chinese Han population.

Rabello Ddo A, de Moura CA, de Andrade RV, et al.
Altered expression of MLL methyltransferase family genes in breast cancer.
Int J Oncol. 2013; 43(2):653-60 [PubMed] Related Publications
The histone lysine methyltransferases contain a SET domain, which catalyzes the addition of methyl groups to specific lysine residues. The MLL family of genes encodes histone-modifying enzymes with histone 3-lysine 4 methyltransferase activity that can regulate gene transcription. The MLL family exists in multi-protein complexes and has been implicated in a variety of processes including normal development and cell growth. Although some of the MLL family members have already been described to be involved in cancer, a clear relationship of these genes with breast cancer is not determined to date. In the present study, we used quantitative PCR to investigate the expression profile of all five MLL genes [MLL (ALL-1), MLL2, MLL3, MLL4 and MLL5] in 7 breast cancer cell lines, 8 breast tumors and adjacent non-tumor tissues and in 12 normal tissues. We observed a diminished expression of all five genes in the breast cancer cell lines when compared to normal breast tissue. We found a significantly decreased expression of MLL2 in the tumor samples compared to the non-tumor controls. In tumor samples, MLL5 also showed a clear suppression tendency. Among the normal tissues analyzed, all genes showed a markedly higher expression in skeletal muscle and brain. Although further studies are required to determine the exact role of these methyltransferases in cancer development, our results indicate that the suppression of MLL genes, especially MLL2 and 5, take part in modulating breast carcinogenesis. Our assessment of the MLL family gene expression patterns in a diverse set of breast cancer cell lines and in a multitude of tissue types and breast tumors should lead to increasingly detailed information on the involvement of these genes in cancer progression.

Bhan A, Hussain I, Ansari KI, et al.
Antisense transcript long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) HOTAIR is transcriptionally induced by estradiol.
J Mol Biol. 2013; 425(19):3707-22 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
HOTAIR (HOX antisense intergenic RNA) is a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) that is transcribed from the antisense strand of homeobox C gene locus in chromosome 12. HOTAIR coordinates with chromatin-modifying enzymes and regulates gene silencing. It is overexpressed in various carcinomas including breast cancer. Herein, we demonstrated that HOTAIR is crucial for cell growth and viability and its knockdown induced apoptosis in breast cancer cells. We also demonstrated that HOTAIR is transcriptionally induced by estradiol (E2). Its promoter contains multiple functional estrogen response elements (EREs). Estrogen receptors (ERs) along with various ER coregulators such as histone methylases MLL1 (mixed lineage leukemia 1) and MLL3 and CREB-binding protein/p300 bind to the promoter of HOTAIR in an E2-dependent manner. Level of histone H3 lysine-4 trimethylation, histone acetylation, and RNA polymerase II recruitment is enriched at the HOTAIR promoter in the presence of E2. Knockdown of ERs and MLLs downregulated the E2-induced HOTAIR expression. Thus, similar to protein-coding gene transcription, E2-induced transcription of antisense transcript HOTAIR is coordinated via ERs and ER coregulators, and this mechanism of HOTAIR overexpression potentially contributes towards breast cancer progression.

Lindberg J, Mills IG, Klevebring D, et al.
The mitochondrial and autosomal mutation landscapes of prostate cancer.
Eur Urol. 2013; 63(4):702-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common cancer in men. PCa is strongly age associated; low death rates in surveillance cohorts call into question the widespread use of surgery, which leads to overtreatment and a reduction in quality of life. There is a great need to increase the understanding of tumor characteristics in the context of disease progression.
OBJECTIVE: To perform the first multigenome investigation of PCa through analysis of both autosomal and mitochondrial DNA, and to integrate exome sequencing data, and RNA sequencing and copy-number alteration (CNA) data to investigate how various different tumor characteristics, commonly analyzed separately, are interconnected.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Exome sequencing was applied to 64 tumor samples from 55 PCa patients with varying stage and grade. Integrated analysis was performed on a core set of 50 tumors from which exome sequencing, CNA, and RNA sequencing data were available.
OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Genes, mutated at a significantly higher rate relative to a genomic background, were identified. In addition, mitochondrial and autosomal mutation rates were correlated to CNAs and proliferation, assessed as a cell cycle gene expression signature.
RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: Genes not previously reported to be significantly mutated in PCa, such as cell division cycle 27 homolog (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) (CDC27), myeloid/lymphoid or mixed-lineage leukemia 3 (MLL3), lysine (K)-specific demethylase 6A (KDM6A), and kinesin family member 5A (KIF5A) were identified. The mutation rate in the mitochondrial genome was 55 times higher than that of the autosomes. Multilevel analysis demonstrated a tight correlation between high reactive-oxygen exposure, chromosomal damage, high proliferation, and in parallel, a transition from multiclonal indolent primary PCa to monoclonal aggressive disease. As we only performed targeted sequence analysis; copy-number neutral rearrangements recently described for PCa were not accounted for.
CONCLUSIONS: The mitochondrial genome displays an elevated mutation rate compared to the autosomal chromosomes. By integrated analysis, we demonstrated that different tumor characteristics are interconnected, providing an increased understanding of PCa etiology.

Je EM, Lee SH, Yoo NJ, Lee SH
Mutational and expressional analysis of MLL genes in gastric and colorectal cancers with microsatellite instability.
Neoplasma. 2013; 60(2):188-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
MLL genes encode histone methyltransferases that are required for proper expression of a variety of genes. The pathologic implications of MLL genes have been studied not only in leukemias, but also in some solid cancers. We found in a public database that MLL, MLL2, MLL3, MLL4 and MLL5 genes had mononucleotide repeats that might be mutated in cancers with microsatellite instability (MSI). Frameshift mutations in a repeat of MLL3 have been found in colorectal cancers (CRC), but there is no frameshift mutation data of the other genes. In this study, we analyzed these repeats in 32 gastric cancers (GC) with high MSI (MSI-H), 59 GC with low MSI (MSI-L)/stable MSI (MSS), 40 CRC with MSI-H and 59 CRC with MSI-L/MSS by single-strand conformation polymorphism and DNA sequencing. We also analyzed MLL3 expression in GC and CRC tissues using immunohistochemistry. We found MLL, MLL2, MLL3 and MLL5 frameshift mutations in two (one GC and one CRC), three (one GC and two CRC), 17 (14 GC and three CRC) and six (four GC and two CRC) cancers, respectively. They were detected exclusively in MSI-H cancers, but not in MSI-L/MSS cancers. All of the cancers with MLL3 mutations showed loss of MLL3 expression, and their values were significantly lower than in those without MLL3 mutation (50.9%). Of note, the GC with MSI-H had significantly higher incidences in both MLL mutations and MLL3 expression loss than the CRC with MSI-H. Our data indicate that frameshift mutations of MLL genes and loss of expression of MLL3 protein are common in GC and CRC with MSI-H.

Biankin AV, Waddell N, Kassahn KS, et al.
Pancreatic cancer genomes reveal aberrations in axon guidance pathway genes.
Nature. 2012; 491(7424):399-405 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Pancreatic cancer is a highly lethal malignancy with few effective therapies. We performed exome sequencing and copy number analysis to define genomic aberrations in a prospectively accrued clinical cohort (n = 142) of early (stage I and II) sporadic pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Detailed analysis of 99 informative tumours identified substantial heterogeneity with 2,016 non-silent mutations and 1,628 copy-number variations. We define 16 significantly mutated genes, reaffirming known mutations (KRAS, TP53, CDKN2A, SMAD4, MLL3, TGFBR2, ARID1A and SF3B1), and uncover novel mutated genes including additional genes involved in chromatin modification (EPC1 and ARID2), DNA damage repair (ATM) and other mechanisms (ZIM2, MAP2K4, NALCN, SLC16A4 and MAGEA6). Integrative analysis with in vitro functional data and animal models provided supportive evidence for potential roles for these genetic aberrations in carcinogenesis. Pathway-based analysis of recurrently mutated genes recapitulated clustering in core signalling pathways in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, and identified new mutated genes in each pathway. We also identified frequent and diverse somatic aberrations in genes described traditionally as embryonic regulators of axon guidance, particularly SLIT/ROBO signalling, which was also evident in murine Sleeping Beauty transposon-mediated somatic mutagenesis models of pancreatic cancer, providing further supportive evidence for the potential involvement of axon guidance genes in pancreatic carcinogenesis.

Dolnik A, Engelmann JC, Scharfenberger-Schmeer M, et al.
Commonly altered genomic regions in acute myeloid leukemia are enriched for somatic mutations involved in chromatin remodeling and splicing.
Blood. 2012; 120(18):e83-92 [PubMed] Related Publications
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is characterized by molecular heterogeneity. As commonly altered genomic regions point to candidate genes involved in leukemogenesis, we used microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization and single nucleotide polymorphism profiling data of 391 AML cases to further narrow down genomic regions of interest. Targeted resequencing of 1000 genes located in the critical regions was performed in a representative cohort of 50 AML samples comprising all major cytogenetic subgroups. We identified 120 missense/nonsense mutations as well as 60 insertions/deletions affecting 73 different genes (∼ 3.6 tumor-specific aberrations/AML). While most of the newly identified alterations were nonrecurrent, we observed an enrichment of mutations affecting genes involved in epigenetic regulation including known candidates like TET2, TET1, DNMT3A, and DNMT1, as well as mutations in the histone methyltransferases NSD1, EZH2, and MLL3. Furthermore, we found mutations in the splicing factor SFPQ and in the nonclassic regulators of mRNA processing CTCF and RAD21. These splicing-related mutations affected 10% of AML patients in a mutually exclusive manner. In conclusion, we could identify a large number of alterations in genes involved in aberrant splicing and epigenetic regulation in genomic regions commonly altered in AML, highlighting their important role in the molecular pathogenesis of AML.

Ellis MJ, Ding L, Shen D, et al.
Whole-genome analysis informs breast cancer response to aromatase inhibition.
Nature. 2012; 486(7403):353-60 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
To correlate the variable clinical features of oestrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer with somatic alterations, we studied pretreatment tumour biopsies accrued from patients in two studies of neoadjuvant aromatase inhibitor therapy by massively parallel sequencing and analysis. Eighteen significantly mutated genes were identified, including five genes (RUNX1, CBFB, MYH9, MLL3 and SF3B1) previously linked to haematopoietic disorders. Mutant MAP3K1 was associated with luminal A status, low-grade histology and low proliferation rates, whereas mutant TP53 was associated with the opposite pattern. Moreover, mutant GATA3 correlated with suppression of proliferation upon aromatase inhibitor treatment. Pathway analysis demonstrated that mutations in MAP2K4, a MAP3K1 substrate, produced similar perturbations as MAP3K1 loss. Distinct phenotypes in oestrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer are associated with specific patterns of somatic mutations that map into cellular pathways linked to tumour biology, but most recurrent mutations are relatively infrequent. Prospective clinical trials based on these findings will require comprehensive genome sequencing.

Fujimoto A, Totoki Y, Abe T, et al.
Whole-genome sequencing of liver cancers identifies etiological influences on mutation patterns and recurrent mutations in chromatin regulators.
Nat Genet. 2012; 44(7):760-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. We sequenced and analyzed the whole genomes of 27 HCCs, 25 of which were associated with hepatitis B or C virus infections, including two sets of multicentric tumors. Although no common somatic mutations were identified in the multicentric tumor pairs, their whole-genome substitution patterns were similar, suggesting that these tumors developed from independent mutations, although their shared etiological backgrounds may have strongly influenced their somatic mutation patterns. Statistical and functional analyses yielded a list of recurrently mutated genes. Multiple chromatin regulators, including ARID1A, ARID1B, ARID2, MLL and MLL3, were mutated in ∼50% of the tumors. Hepatitis B virus genome integration in the TERT locus was frequently observed in a high clonal proportion. Our whole-genome sequencing analysis of HCCs identified the influence of etiological background on somatic mutation patterns and subsequent carcinogenesis, as well as recurrent mutations in chromatin regulators in HCCs.

Ong CK, Subimerb C, Pairojkul C, et al.
Exome sequencing of liver fluke-associated cholangiocarcinoma.
Nat Genet. 2012; 44(6):690-3 [PubMed] Related Publications
Opisthorchis viverrini-related cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), a fatal bile duct cancer, is a major public health concern in areas endemic for this parasite. We report here whole-exome sequencing of eight O. viverrini-related tumors and matched normal tissue. We identified and validated 206 somatic mutations in 187 genes using Sanger sequencing and selected 15 genes for mutation prevalence screening in an additional 46 individuals with CCA (cases). In addition to the known cancer-related genes TP53 (mutated in 44.4% of cases), KRAS (16.7%) and SMAD4 (16.7%), we identified somatic mutations in 10 newly implicated genes in 14.8-3.7% of cases. These included inactivating mutations in MLL3 (in 14.8% of cases), ROBO2 (9.3%), RNF43 (9.3%) and PEG3 (5.6%), and activating mutations in the GNAS oncogene (9.3%). These genes have functions that can be broadly grouped into three biological classes: (i) deactivation of histone modifiers, (ii) activation of G protein signaling and (iii) loss of genome stability. This study provides insight into the mutational landscape contributing to O. viverrini-related CCA.

Liu P, Morrison C, Wang L, et al.
Identification of somatic mutations in non-small cell lung carcinomas using whole-exome sequencing.
Carcinogenesis. 2012; 33(7):1270-6 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death, with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) being the predominant form of the disease. Most lung cancer is caused by the accumulation of genomic alterations due to tobacco exposure. To uncover its mutational landscape, we performed whole-exome sequencing in 31 NSCLCs and their matched normal tissue samples. We identified both common and unique mutation spectra and pathway activation in lung adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, two major histologies in NSCLC. In addition to identifying previously known lung cancer genes (TP53, KRAS, EGFR, CDKN2A and RB1), the analysis revealed many genes not previously implicated in this malignancy. Notably, a novel gene CSMD3 was identified as the second most frequently mutated gene (next to TP53) in lung cancer. We further demonstrated that loss of CSMD3 results in increased proliferation of airway epithelial cells. The study provides unprecedented insights into mutational processes, cellular pathways and gene networks associated with lung cancer. Of potential immediate clinical relevance, several highly mutated genes identified in our study are promising druggable targets in cancer therapy including ALK, CTNNA3, DCC, MLL3, PCDHIIX, PIK3C2B, PIK3CG and ROCK2.

Zang ZJ, Cutcutache I, Poon SL, et al.
Exome sequencing of gastric adenocarcinoma identifies recurrent somatic mutations in cell adhesion and chromatin remodeling genes.
Nat Genet. 2012; 44(5):570-4 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gastric cancer is a major cause of global cancer mortality. We surveyed the spectrum of somatic alterations in gastric cancer by sequencing the exomes of 15 gastric adenocarcinomas and their matched normal DNAs. Frequently mutated genes in the adenocarcinomas included TP53 (11/15 tumors), PIK3CA (3/15) and ARID1A (3/15). Cell adhesion was the most enriched biological pathway among the frequently mutated genes. A prevalence screening confirmed mutations in FAT4, a cadherin family gene, in 5% of gastric cancers (6/110) and FAT4 genomic deletions in 4% (3/83) of gastric tumors. Frequent mutations in chromatin remodeling genes (ARID1A, MLL3 and MLL) also occurred in 47% of the gastric cancers. We detected ARID1A mutations in 8% of tumors (9/110), which were associated with concurrent PIK3CA mutations and microsatellite instability. In functional assays, we observed both FAT4 and ARID1A to exert tumor-suppressor activity. Somatic inactivation of FAT4 and ARID1A may thus be key tumorigenic events in a subset of gastric cancers.

Mann KM, Ward JM, Yew CC, et al.
Sleeping Beauty mutagenesis reveals cooperating mutations and pathways in pancreatic adenocarcinoma.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012; 109(16):5934-41 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers affecting the Western world. Because the disease is highly metastatic and difficult to diagnosis until late stages, the 5-y survival rate is around 5%. The identification of molecular cancer drivers is critical for furthering our understanding of the disease and development of improved diagnostic tools and therapeutics. We have conducted a mutagenic screen using Sleeping Beauty (SB) in mice to identify new candidate cancer genes in pancreatic cancer. By combining SB with an oncogenic Kras allele, we observed highly metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinomas. Using two independent statistical methods to identify loci commonly mutated by SB in these tumors, we identified 681 loci that comprise 543 candidate cancer genes (CCGs); 75 of these CCGs, including Mll3 and Ptk2, have known mutations in human pancreatic cancer. We identified point mutations in human pancreatic patient samples for another 11 CCGs, including Acvr2a and Map2k4. Importantly, 10% of the CCGs are involved in chromatin remodeling, including Arid4b, Kdm6a, and Nsd3, and all SB tumors have at least one mutated gene involved in this process; 20 CCGs, including Ctnnd1, Fbxo11, and Vgll4, are also significantly associated with poor patient survival. SB mutagenesis provides a rich resource of mutations in potential cancer drivers for cross-comparative analyses with ongoing sequencing efforts in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma.

Kühn MW, Radtke I, Bullinger L, et al.
High-resolution genomic profiling of adult and pediatric core-binding factor acute myeloid leukemia reveals new recurrent genomic alterations.
Blood. 2012; 119(10):e67-75 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2015 Related Publications
To identify cooperating lesions in core-binding factor acute myeloid leukemia, we performed single-nucleotide polymorphism-array analysis on 300 diagnostic and 41 relapse adult and pediatric leukemia samples. We identified a mean of 1.28 copy number alterations per case at diagnosis in both patient populations. Recurrent minimally deleted regions (MDRs) were identified at 7q36.1 (7.7%), 9q21.32 (5%), 11p13 (2.3%), and 17q11.2 (2%). Approximately one-half of the 7q deletions were detectable only by single-nucleotide polymorphism-array analysis because of their limited size. Sequence analysis of MLL3, contained within the 7q36.1 MDR, in 46 diagnostic samples revealed one truncating mutation in a leukemia lacking a 7q deletion. Recurrent focal gains were identified at 8q24.21 (4.7%) and 11q25 (1.7%), both containing a single noncoding RNA. Recurrent regions of copy-neutral loss-of-heterozygosity were identified at 1p (1%), 4q (0.7%), and 19p (0.7%), with known mutated cancer genes present in the minimally altered region of 1p (NRAS) and 4q (TET2). Analysis of relapse samples identified recurrent MDRs at 3q13.31 (12.2%), 5q (4.9%), and 17p (4.9%), with the 3q13.31 region containing only LSAMP, a putative tumor suppressor. Determining the role of these lesions in leukemogenesis and drug resistance should provide important insights into core-binding factor acute myeloid leukemia.

Ansari KI, Hussain I, Kasiri S, Mandal SS
HOXC10 is overexpressed in breast cancer and transcriptionally regulated by estrogen via involvement of histone methylases MLL3 and MLL4.
J Mol Endocrinol. 2012; 48(1):61-75 [PubMed] Related Publications
HOXC10 is a critical player in the development of spinal cord, formation of neurons, and associated with human leukemia. We found that HOXC10 is overexpressed in breast cancer and transcriptionally regulated by estrogen (17β-estradiol, E(2)). The HOXC10 promoter contains several estrogen response elements (ERE1-7, half-sites). A luciferase-based reporter assay showed that ERE1 and ERE6 of HOXC10 promoter are E(2) responsive. ERα and ERβ play critical roles in E(2)-mediated activation of HOXC10. Knockdown of ERα and ERβ downregulated E(2)-induced HOXC10 expression. ERα and ERβ bind to ERE1 and ERE6 regions in an E(2)-dependent manner. Additionally, knockdown of histone methylases MLL3 and MLL4 (but not MLL1 and MLL2) diminished E(2)-induced expression of HOXC10. MLL3 and MLL4 were bound to the ERE1 and ERE6 regions of HOXC10 promoter in an E(2)-dependent manner. Overall, we demonstrated that HOXC10 is overexpressed in breast cancer, and it is an E(2)-responsive gene. Histone methylases MLL3 and MLL4, along with ERs, regulate HOXC10 gene expression in the presence of E(2).

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