Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The ETS-domain transcription factors divide into subfamilies based on protein similarities, DNA-binding sequences, and interaction with cofactors. They are regulated by extracellular clues and contribute to cellular processes, including proliferation and transformation. ETS genes are targeted through genomic rearrangements in oncogenesis. The PU.1/SPI1 gene is inactivated by point mutations in human myeloid malignancies. We identified a recurrent somatic mutation (Q226E) in PU.1/SPI1 in Waldenström macroglobulinemia, a B-cell lymphoproliferative disorder. It affects the DNA-binding affinity of the protein and allows the mutant protein to more frequently bind and activate promoter regions with respect to wild-type protein. Mutant SPI1 binding at promoters activates gene sets typically promoted by other ETS factors, resulting in enhanced proliferation and decreased terminal B-cell differentiation in model cell lines and primary samples. In summary, we describe oncogenic subversion of transcription factor function through subtle alteration of DNA binding leading to cellular proliferation and differentiation arrest. SIGNIFICANCE: The demonstration that a somatic point mutation tips the balance of genome-binding pattern provides a mechanistic paradigm for how missense mutations in transcription factor genes may be oncogenic in human tumors.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 681.

Original publication




Journal article


Cancer Discov

Publication Date





796 - 811


Animals, Azepines, B-Lymphocytes, Base Sequence, Binding Sites, Cell Line, Cell Proliferation, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, Lenalidomide, Mice, Mutation, Missense, Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88, Nucleotide Motifs, Protein Binding, Proto-Oncogene Proteins, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-ets, Trans-Activators, Transcription Factors, Triazoles, Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia