Discovered in 1992 from cloning the gene involved in human leukemias carrying chromosome band 11q23 translocations, the MLL/HRX/ALL-1 gene has since attracted scientists from various disciplines by its diverse functions in normal physiological and pathological processes. MLL is the human orthologue of Drosophila trithorax (trx) - the founding member of trithorax group proteins, Trx-G. Leukemogenic11q23 translocations fuse the common MLL N-terminal 1400aa in-frame with a wide variety of fusion partners that share no structural or functional homology. The 500 kD precursor MLL undergoes evolutionarily conserved site-specific cleavage mediated by Taspase1, generating the mature MLL N320/C180 heterodimer which methylates histone H3 at lysine 4 with its carboxy-terminal SET domain. Extensive biochemical and genetic studies on MLL/trx have established its critical role in maintaining the expression of Hox/homeotic genes. By contrast, the involvement of MLL in many other essential cellular processes remains unclear. Recent reports including ours began to elucidate the intricate interplay between MLL and the cell cycle machinery, which ensures proper cell cycle phase transitions. Thus, this review will focus on this novel activity of MLL and discuss the implications of its deregulation in MLL leukemias.
- CDK inhibitors
- Cell cycle