ZMYND8-regulated IRF8 Transcription Axis Is An Acute Myeloid Leukemia Dependency.
The transformed state in acute leukemia requires gene regulatory programs involving transcription factors and chromatin modulators. Here, we uncover an IRF8-MEF2D transcriptional circuit as an acute myeloid leukemia (AML)-biased dependency. We discover and characterize the mechanism by which the chromatin “reader” ZMYND8 directly activates IRF8 in parallel with the MYC proto-oncogene through their lineage-specific enhancers. ZMYND8 is essential for AML proliferation in vitro and in vivo and associates with MYC and IRF8 enhancer elements that we define in cell lines and in patient samples. ZMYND8 occupancy at IRF8 and MYC enhancers requires BRD4, a transcription coactivator also necessary for AML proliferation. We show that ZMYND8 binds to the ET domain of BRD4 via its chromatin reader cassette, which in turn is required for proper chromatin occupancy and maintenance of leukemic growth in vivo. Our results rationalize ZMYND8 as a potential therapeutic target for modulating essential transcriptional programs in AML.