It has been shown that individual acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients are characterized by one of few initiating DNA mutations and 5-10 cooperating mutations not yet defined among hundreds identified by massive sequencing of AML genomes. We report an in vivo insertional-mutagenesis screen for genes cooperating with one AML initiating mutations (PML-RARA, oncogene of acute promyelocytic leukemia, APL), which allowed identification of hundreds of genetic cooperators. The cooperators are mutated at low frequency in APL or AML patients but are always abnormally expressed in a cohort of 182 APLs and AMLs analyzed. These deregulations appear non-randomly distributed and present in all samples, regardless of their associated genomic mutations. Reverse-engineering approaches showed that these cooperators belong to a single transcriptional gene network, enriched in genes mutated in AMLs, where perturbation of single genes modifies expression of others. Their gene-ontology analysis showed enrichment of genes directly involved in cell proliferation control. Therefore, the pool of PML-RARA cooperating mutations appears large and heterogeneous, but functionally equivalent and deregulated in the majority of APLs and AMLs. Our data suggest that the high heterogeneity of DNA mutations in APLs and AMLs can be reduced to patterns of gene expression deregulation of a single 'mutated' gene network.Leukemia advance online publication, 20 January 2017; doi:10.1038/leu.2016.386.
- Journal Article