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Small-molecule inhibition of METTL3 as a strategy against myeloid leukaemia.

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Blackaby, Wesley 
Albertella, Mark 
Rak, Justyna 
De Braekeleer, Etienne 


N6-methyladenosine (m6A) is an abundant internal RNA modification1,2 that is catalysed predominantly by the METTL3-METTL14 methyltransferase complex3,4. The m6A methyltransferase METTL3 has been linked to the initiation and maintenance of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), but the potential of therapeutic applications targeting this enzyme remains unknown5-7. Here we present the identification and characterization of STM2457, a highly potent and selective first-in-class catalytic inhibitor of METTL3, and a crystal structure of STM2457 in complex with METTL3-METTL14. Treatment of tumours with STM2457 leads to reduced AML growth and an increase in differentiation and apoptosis. These cellular effects are accompanied by selective reduction of m6A levels on known leukaemogenic mRNAs and a decrease in their expression consistent with a translational defect. We demonstrate that pharmacological inhibition of METTL3 in vivo leads to impaired engraftment and prolonged survival in various mouse models of AML, specifically targeting key stem cell subpopulations of AML. Collectively, these results reveal the inhibition of METTL3 as a potential therapeutic strategy against AML, and provide proof of concept that the targeting of RNA-modifying enzymes represents a promising avenue for anticancer therapy.



Adenosine, Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Apoptosis, Cell Differentiation, Cell Line, Tumor, Female, Gene Expression Regulation, Leukemic, Humans, Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute, Methyltransferases, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Molecular Structure, Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC


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Wellcome Trust (092096/Z/10/Z)
Cancer Research Uk (None)
European Research Council (268569)
Cancer Research UK (23015)
Wellcome Trust (210926/Z/18/Z)
Medical Research Council (MC_PC_17230)
Cancer Research UK (17001)