The t(8;21) is one of the most frequent chromosomal translocations associated with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We found that t(8;21) AML were extremely sensitive to THZ1, which triggered apoptosis after only 4 h.We used precision nuclear run-on transcription sequencing (PROseq) to define the global effects of THZ1 and other CDK inhibitors on RNA polymerase II dynamics. Inhibition of CDK7 using THZ1 caused wide-spread loss of promoter-proximal paused RNA polymerase. This loss of 5' pausing was associated with accumulation of polymerases in the body of a large number of genes. However, there were modest effects on genes regulated by 'superenhancers'. At the 3' ends of genes, treatment with THZ1 suppressed RNA polymerase 'read through' at the end of the last exon, which resembled a phenotype associated with a mutant RNA polymerase with slower elongation rates. Consistent with this hypothesis, polyA site-sequencing (PolyA-seq) did not detect differences in poly A sites after THZ1 treatment. PROseq analysis after short treatments with THZ1 suggested that these 3' effects were due to altered CDK7 activity at the 5' end of long genes, and were likely to be due to slower rates of elongation.
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