Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 76, Issue 13, pp 2511–2523 | Cite as

The role of ASXL1 in hematopoiesis and myeloid malignancies

  • Shuhei Asada
  • Takeshi Fujino
  • Susumu Goyama
  • Toshio KitamuraEmail author


Recent high-throughput genome-wide sequencing studies have identified recurrent somatic mutations in myeloid neoplasms. An epigenetic regulator, Additional sex combs-like 1 (ASXL1), is one of the most frequently mutated genes in all subtypes of myeloid malignancies. ASXL1 mutations are also frequently detected in clonal hematopoiesis, which is associated with an increased risk of mortality. Therefore, it is important to understand how ASXL1 mutations contribute to clonal expansion and myeloid transformation in hematopoietic cells. Studies using ASXL1-depleted human hematopoietic cells and Asxl1 knockout mice have shown that deletion of wild-type ASXL1 protein leads to impaired hematopoiesis and accelerates myeloid malignancies via loss of interaction with polycomb repressive complex 2 proteins. On the other hand, ASXL1 mutations in myeloid neoplasms typically occur near the last exon and result in the expression of C-terminally truncated mutant ASXL1 protein. Biological studies and biochemical analyses of this variant have shed light on its dominant-negative and gain-of-function features in myeloid transformation via a variety of epigenetic changes. Based on these results, it would be possible to establish novel promising therapeutic strategies for myeloid malignancies harboring ASXL1 mutations by blocking interactions between ASXL1 and associating epigenetic regulators. Here, we summarize the clinical implications of ASXL1 mutations, the role of wild-type ASXL1 in normal hematopoiesis, and oncogenic functions of mutant ASXL1 in myeloid neoplasms.


ASXL1 BAP1 HOX Acute myeloid leukemia AML Myelodysplastic syndrome MDS MPN CMML 



This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid Scientific Research B from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (15H04855, TK), a Grant from the Tokyo Biochemical Research Foundation (TK), and a Grant from the Uehara Memorial Foundation (TK).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuhei Asada
    • 1
  • Takeshi Fujino
    • 1
  • Susumu Goyama
    • 1
  • Toshio Kitamura
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Cellular Therapy, Advanced Clinical Research Center, and Division of Stem Cell Signaling, Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Institute of Medical ScienceThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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