Interactions between retinoic acid (RA) receptor alpha (RARalpha) and coregulators play a key role in coordinating gene transcription and myeloid differentiation. In patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), the RARalpha gene is fused with the promyelocytic leukemia (PML) gene via the t(15;17) translocation, resulting in the expression of a PML/RARalpha fusion protein. Here, we report that topoisomerase II beta (TopoIIbeta) associates with and negatively modulates RARalpha transcriptional activity and that increased levels of and association with TopoIIbeta cause resistance to RA in APL cell lines. Knockdown of TopoIIbeta was able to overcome resistance by permitting RA-induced differentiation and increased RA gene expression. Overexpression of TopoIIbeta in clones from an RA-sensitive cell line conferred resistance by a reduction in RA-induced expression of target genes and differentiation. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays indicated that TopoIIbeta is bound to an RA response element and that inhibition of TopoIIbeta causes hyperacetylation of histone 3 at lysine 9 and activation of transcription. Our results identify a novel mechanism of resistance in APL and provide further insight to the role of TopoIIbeta in gene regulation and differentiation.
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