A combination strategy targeting enhancer plasticity exerts synergistic lethality against BETi-resistant leukemia cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • Primary and acquired drug resistance imposes a major threat to achieving optimized clinical outcomes during cancer treatment. Aberrant changes in epigenetic modifications are closely involved in drug resistance of tumor cells. Using BET inhibitor (BETi) resistant leukemia cells as a model system, we demonstrated herein that genome-wide enhancer remodeling played a pivotal role in driving therapeutic resistance via compensational re-expression of pro-survival genes. Capitalizing on theCRISPR interferencetechnology, we identified the second intron of IncRNA, PVT1, as a unique bona fide gained enhancer that restored MYC transcription independent of BRD4 recruitment in leukemia. A combined BETi and CDK7 inhibitor treatment abolished MYC transcription by impeding RNAPII loading without affecting PVT1-mediated chromatin looping at the MYC locus in BETi-resistant leukemia cells. Together, our findings have established the feasibility of targeting enhancer plasticity to overcome drug resistance associated with epigenetic therapies.

published proceedings

  • Nat Commun

altmetric score

  • 10.9

author list (cited authors)

  • Guo, L., Li, J., Zeng, H., Guzman, A. G., Li, T., Lee, M., ... Huang, Y.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Guo, Lei||Li, Jia||Zeng, Hongxiang||Guzman, Anna G||Li, Tingting||Lee, Minjung||Zhou, Yubin||Goodell, Margaret A||Stephan, Clifford||Davies, Peter JA||Dawson, Mark A||Sun, Deqiang||Huang, Yun

publication date

  • January 2020