bims-tremyl Biomed News
on Therapy resistance biology in myeloid leukemia
Issue of 2022‒03‒06
34 papers selected by
Paolo Gallipoli
Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London

  1. Nat Commun. 2022 Mar 01. 13(1): 1105
      Acute myeloid leukemia remains difficult to treat due to strong genetic heterogeneity between and within individual patients. Here, we show that Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1 (PDK1) acts as a targetable determinant of different metabolic states in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). PDK1low AMLs are OXPHOS-driven, are enriched for leukemic granulocyte-monocyte progenitor (L-GMP) signatures, and are associated with FLT3-ITD and NPM1cyt mutations. PDK1high AMLs however are OXPHOSlow, wild type for FLT3 and NPM1, and are enriched for stemness signatures. Metabolic states can even differ between genetically distinct subclones within individual patients. Loss of PDK1 activity releases glycolytic cells into an OXPHOS state associated with increased ROS levels resulting in enhanced apoptosis in leukemic but not in healthy stem/progenitor cells. This coincides with an enhanced dependency on glutamine uptake and reduced proliferation in vitro and in vivo in humanized xenograft mouse models. We show that human leukemias display distinct metabolic states and adaptation mechanisms that can serve as targets for treatment.
  2. Blood. 2022 Mar 01. pii: blood.2021014671. [Epub ahead of print]
      We observed that the immune checkpoint protein B7-H3 is overexpressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients with poor treatment outcomes. Inhibition of B7-H3 expression or blocking of its activity using a novel monoclonal antibody (T-1A5) in AML cells significantly enhanced NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity in AML cells in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, human-mouse chimera of this antibody (ChT-1A5) induced antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) in B7-H3+ primary AML cells, but not in normal hematopoietic cells, suggesting the specify of this antibody for AML cells. Epitope mapping studies identified that both T-1A5 and ChT-1A5 antibodies bind to the FG-loop region of B7-H3, which is known to regulate the immunosuppressive function of B7-H3. Furthermore, treatment with ChT-1A5 in combination with human NK cells significantly prolonged survival in AML patient-derived xenograft models. Our results suggest that ChT-1A5 antibody can inhibit the immunosuppressive function of B7-H3 protein as well as induce ADCC in B7-H3+ AML.
  3. Cell Stem Cell. 2022 Mar 03. pii: S1934-5909(22)00058-3. [Epub ahead of print]29(3): 350-352
      Adaptive aberrant gene regulation is a hallmark of malignant growth and therapy resistance in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In this issue of Cell Stem Cell, Eagle et al. identified oncogenic enhancer-driven overexpression of selenophosphate synthetase 2 (SEPHS2) as an opportunity for targeted mitigation of malignant cell growth in AML.
  4. Leukemia. 2022 Mar 04.
      According to a hierarchical model, targeting leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) was speculated to achieve complete remission (CR) or cure. Nonetheless, increasing evidence emphasized the plasticity of differentiated blasts undergoing interconversion into LICs. We exploited murine models of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a subtype of acute myeloid leukemia driven by the promyelocytic leukemia/retinoic acid receptor (PML-RARα) oncofusion protein, which recruits histone deacetylase (HDAC)-containing complexes. We studied APLs with different LIC frequencies and investigated the effect of two HDAC inhibitors: valproic acid (VPA), with relative selectivity towards class I HDAC enzymes and vorinostat/suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) (pan-HDAC inhibitor) in combination with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), on the bulk APL cells and APL LICs. Indeed, we found that while VPA differentiates the bulk APL cells, SAHA selectively targets LICs. ATRA + VPA + SAHA combination efficiently induced CR in an APL model with lower LIC frequency. Substituting ATRA with synthetic retinoids as etretinate which promotes APL differentiation without downregulating PML/RARα compromised the therapeutic benefit of ATRA + VPA + SAHA regimen. Altogether, our study emphasizes the therapeutic power of co-targeting the plasticity and heterogeneity of cancer -herein demonstrated by tackling LICs and bulk leukemic blasts - to achieve and maintain CR.
  5. J Clin Invest. 2022 Mar 01. pii: e157434. [Epub ahead of print]132(5):
      Macrophages within the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment take on unexpected roles in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) as reported by Moore and colleagues in this issue of the JCI. In contrast to solid tumors, where tumor-associated macrophages frequently assume an immunosuppressive phenotype that promotes tumor progression, this study revealed that BM macrophages repressed leukemia expansion in AML through a pathway called LC3-associated phagocytosis (LAP). After phagocytosis of dead and dying leukemic cells, including the mitochondria within the leukemic blasts, mitochondrial DNA activated stimulator of IFN genes (STING), leading to inflammatory signals that enhanced phagocytosis and restrained leukemic cell expansion. These findings unveil the modulation of macrophage-mediated phagocytosis via LAP as a potential therapeutic strategy directed at the BM microenvironment in AML.
  6. Autophagy. 2022 Mar 01. 1-3
      Minimal residual disease (MRD) refers to a low number of cells that persist anti-cancer treatment and is the major cause of relapse in solid cancers and leukemias. In chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a paradigm for stem cell-driven cancer, MRD is maintained by tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)-insensitive leukemic stem cells (LSCs), which may rely on fundamental metabolic processes to resist drug treatment. Macroautophagy/autophagy is a cytoprotective process that has been highlighted as critical for sustaining LSC survival during TKI treatment in robust experimental models of CML. Our recent study shows that the autophagy-initiating kinase ULK1 is required for maintaining energy and redox balance in CML LSCs. Pharmacological inhibition of ULK1 results in stress-induced differentiation of LSCs, rendering them sensitive to TKI treatment, uncovering a promising strategy for selective eradication of LSCs in CML patients.Abbreviations CML: chronic myeloid leukemia; LSC: leukemic stem cell; MAPK: mitogen-activated protein kinase; MRD: minimal residual disease; TKI: tyrosine kinase inhibitor.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; ULK1; cancer; drug resistance; leukemia; leukemic stem cells
  7. Methods Mol Biol. 2022 ;2419 73-88
      Outgrowth of a mutated hematopoietic stem/progenitor clone and its descendants, also known as clonal hematopoiesis, has long been considered as either a potential forerunner to hematologic malignancy or as a clinically silent phase in leukemia that antedates symptomatic disease. That definition of clonal hematopoiesis has now been expanded to encompass patients who harbor specific genetic/epigenetic mutations that lead to clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP) and, with it, a relatively heightened risk for both myeloid malignancy and atherosclerosis during aging. In this review, we provide contemporary insights into the cellular and molecular basis for CHIP and explore the relationship of CHIP to myeloid malignancy and atherosclerosis. We also discuss emerging strategies to explore CHIP biology and clinical targeting of CHIP related malignancy and cardiovascular disease.
    Keywords:  Atherosclerosis; CHIP; Clonal hematopoiesis; Leukemia; Myeloid; Stem cells
  8. Front Oncol. 2022 ;12 832816
      Blocking the pyrimidine nucleotide de novo synthesis pathway by inhibiting dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) results in the cell cycle arrest and/or differentiation of rapidly proliferating cells including activated lymphocytes, cancer cells, or virally infected cells. Emvododstat (PTC299) is an orally bioavailable small molecule that inhibits DHODH. We evaluated the potential for emvododstat to inhibit the progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) using several in vitro and in vivo models of the disease. Broad potent activity was demonstrated against multiple AML cell lines, AML blasts cultured ex vivo from patient blood samples, and AML tumor models including patient-derived xenograft models. Emvododstat induced differentiation, cytotoxicity, or both in primary AML patient blasts cultured ex vivo with 8 of 10 samples showing sensitivity. AML cells with diverse driver mutations were sensitive, suggesting the potential of emvododstat for broad therapeutic application. AML cell lines that are not sensitive to emvododstat are likely to be more reliant on the salvage pathway than on de novo synthesis of pyrimidine nucleotides. Pharmacokinetic experiments in rhesus monkeys demonstrated that emvododstat levels rose rapidly after oral administration, peaking about 2 hours post-dosing. This was associated with an increase in the levels of dihydroorotate (DHO), the substrate for DHODH, within 2 hours of dosing indicating that DHODH inhibition is rapid. DHO levels declined as drug levels declined, consistent with the reversibility of DHODH inhibition by emvododstat. These preclinical findings provide a rationale for clinical evaluation of emvododstat in an ongoing Phase 1 study of patients with relapsed/refractory acute leukemias.
    Keywords:  AML; DHODH; PTC299; differentiation; dihydroorotate dehydrogenase; emvododstat; pyrimidine nucleotide de novo synthesis
  9. Haematologica. 2022 Mar 03.
      Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) is a myelodysplastic syndrome/myeloproliferative overlap neoplasm characterized by sustained peripheral blood monocytosis and an inherent risk for transformation to acute myeloid leukemia (AML; 15-30% over 3-5 years). While CMML is morphologically classified in CMML-0,1 and 2 based on peripheral blood and bone marrow promonocyte/blast counts, a more clinically relevant classification into dysplastic (dCMML) and proliferative (pCMML) subtypes, based on the presenting white blood cell count is helpful in prognostication and therapeutics. CMML is a neoplasm associated with aging, occurring on the background of clonal hematopoiesis, with TET2 and SRSF2 mutations being early initiating events. The subsequent acquisitions of ASXL1, RUNX1, SF3B1 and DNMT3A mutations usually give rise to dCMML, while ASXL1, JAK2V617F and RAS pathway mutations give rise to pCMML. Patients with pCMML have a more aggressive course with higher rates of AML transformation. Allogeneic stem cell transplant remains the only potential cure for CMML, however, given the advanced median age at presentation (73 years) and comorbidities, is an option to only a few affected patients (10%). While DNA methyltransferase inhibitors are approved for the management of CMML, the overall response rates are 40-50%, with true complete remission rates of.
  10. Front Oncol. 2022 ;12 807266
      Despite intensive chemotherapy regimens, up to 60% of adults with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) will relapse and eventually succumb to their disease. Recent studies suggest that leukaemic stem cells (LSCs) drive AML relapse by residing in the bone marrow niche and adapting their metabolic profile. Metabolic adaptation and LSC plasticity are novel hallmarks of leukemogenesis that provide important biological processes required for tumour initiation, progression and therapeutic responses. These findings highlight the importance of targeting metabolic pathways in leukaemia biology which might serve as the Achilles' heel for the treatment of AML relapse. In this review, we highlight the metabolic differences between normal haematopoietic cells, bulk AML cells and LSCs. Specifically, we focus on four major metabolic pathways dysregulated in AML; (i) glycolysis; (ii) mitochondrial metabolism; (iii) amino acid metabolism; and (iv) lipid metabolism. We then outline established and emerging drug interventions that exploit metabolic dependencies of leukaemic cells in the treatment of AML. The metabolic signature of AML cells alters during different biological conditions such as chemotherapy and quiescence. Therefore, targeting the metabolic vulnerabilities of these cells might selectively eradicate them and improve the overall survival of patients with AML.
    Keywords:  acute myeloid leukaemia; cancer metabolism; leukaemic stem cells; metabolic plasticity; metabolic targeting
  11. Exp Hematol Oncol. 2022 Mar 02. 11(1): 11
      Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are clonal hematopoietic stem cell diseases arising from the bone marrow (BM), and approximately 30% of MDS eventually progress to AML, associated with increasingly aggressive neoplastic hematopoietic clones and poor survival. Dysregulated immune microenvironment has been recognized as a key pathogenic driver of MDS and AML, causing high rate of intramedullary apoptosis in lower-risk MDS to immunosuppression in higher-risk MDS and AML. Immune checkpoint molecules, including programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) and programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1), play important roles in oncogenesis by maintaining an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. Recently, both molecules have been examined in MDS and AML. Abnormal inflammatory signaling, genetic and/or epigenetic alterations, interactions between cells, and treatment of patients all have been involved in dysregulating PD-1/PD-L1 signaling in these two diseases. Furthermore, with the PD-1/PD-L1 pathway activated in immune microenvironment, the milieu of BM shift to immunosuppressive, contributing to a clonal evolution of blasts. Nevertheless, numerous preclinical studies have suggested a potential response of patients to PD-1/PD-L1 blocker. Current clinical trials employing these drugs in MDS and AML have reported mixed clinical responses. In this paper, we focus on the recent preclinical advances of the PD-1/PD-L1 signaling in MDS and AML, and available and ongoing outcomes of PD-1/PD-L1 inhibitor in patients. We also discuss the novel PD-1/PD-L1 blocker-based immunotherapeutic strategies and challenges, including identifying reliable biomarkers, determining settings, and exploring optimal combination therapies.
    Keywords:  AML transformation; Acute myeloid leukemia; Hypomethylating agent; Immune checkpoint; Myelodysplastic syndrome; Programmed cell death ligand-1; Programmed cell death-1
  12. EMBO Rep. 2022 Mar 01. e54262
      Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis with morphologic dysplasia and a propensity to transform into overt acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Our analysis of two cohorts of 20 MDS and 49 AML with multi-lineage dysplasia patients shows a reduction in Nucleophosmin 1 (NPM1) expression in 70% and 90% of cases, respectively. A mouse model of Npm1 conditional knockout (cKO) in hematopoietic cells reveals that Npm1 loss causes premature aging of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Mitochondrial activation in Npm1-deficient HSCs leads to aberrant activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome, which correlates with a developing MDS-like phenotype. Npm1 cKO mice exhibit shortened survival times, and expansion of both the intra- and extra-medullary myeloid populations, while evoking a p53-dependent response. After transfer into a p53 mutant background, the resulting Npm1/p53 double KO mice develop fatal leukemia within 6 months. Our findings identify NPM1 as a regulator of HSC aging and inflammation and highlight the role of p53 in MDS progression to leukemia.
    Keywords:  HSC aging; MDS; Nlrp3; Npm1; Tp53
  13. Leuk Res. 2022 Feb 22. pii: S0145-2126(22)00044-3. [Epub ahead of print] 106818
    Keywords:  CCUS; CHIP; CMML; Clonal Compositions; Clonal Hematopoiesis; Epigenetic Regulator Genes; MDS; Splicing Genes
  14. Nat Med. 2022 Mar 03.
      Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are heterogeneous neoplastic disorders of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). The current standard of care for patients with MDS is hypomethylating agent (HMA)-based therapy; however, almost 50% of MDS patients fail HMA therapy and progress to acute myeloid leukemia, facing a dismal prognosis due to lack of approved second-line treatment options. As cancer stem cells are the seeds of disease progression, we investigated the biological properties of the MDS HSCs that drive disease evolution, seeking to uncover vulnerabilities that could be therapeutically exploited. Through integrative molecular profiling of HSCs and progenitor cells in large patient cohorts, we found that MDS HSCs in two distinct differentiation states are maintained throughout the clinical course of the disease, and expand at progression, depending on recurrent activation of the anti-apoptotic regulator BCL-2 or nuclear factor-kappa B-mediated survival pathways. Pharmacologically inhibiting these pathways depleted MDS HSCs and reduced tumor burden in experimental systems. Further, patients with MDS who progressed after failure to frontline HMA therapy and whose HSCs upregulated BCL-2 achieved improved clinical responses to venetoclax-based therapy in the clinical setting. Overall, our study uncovers that HSC architectures in MDS are potential predictive biomarkers to guide second-line treatments after HMA failure. These findings warrant further investigation of HSC-specific survival pathways to identify new therapeutic targets of clinical potential in MDS.
  15. Exp Hematol. 2022 Mar 01. pii: S0301-472X(22)00076-5. [Epub ahead of print]
      Somatic mutation of DNMT3A (DNA methyltransferase 3 alpha) is implicated in the development of a wide range of hematological disorders, including clonal hematopoiesis indeterminant potential. To elucidate the functional roles of endogenous levels of a DNMT3A R882 mutant, we generated a novel Dnmt3a R878C conditional knock-in mouse model. In contrast to viable heterozygotes, mice homozygous for the Dnmt3a R878C mutation in the hematopoietic system were not viable (Dnmt3a R878C is homologous to human DNMT3A R882C). Hematopoietic cell-specific heterozygous expression of Dnmt3a R878C led to significant expansion of adult quiescent hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs); however, these mice had no incidence of hematological malignancies. The expanding HSC population in heterozygous Dnmt3a R878C knock-in mice showed an accumulation of G0 phase cells. In contrast to aberrantly enhanced self-renewal capacity in vitro, heterozygous Dnmt3a R878C knock-in HSCs had no competitive repopulating advantage in vivo over wild-type HSCs. Considering the capacity of the heterozygous Dnmt3a R878C mutant for HSC pool expansion, our Dnmt3a R878C knock-in mouse line is a useful platform to dissect the pathophysiology of clonal hematopoiesis. This mouse line can also help to elucidate the biological and molecular actions of DNMT3A mutations in the malignant transformation of normal HSCs.
    Keywords:  DNMT3A; acute myeloid leukemia; chemo-resistance; hematopoietic stem cell; quiescence
  16. BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2022 Mar 03. 22(1): 57
      BACKGROUND: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a genetically heterogeneous blood disorder. AML patients are associated with a relatively poor overall survival. The objective of this study was to establish a machine learning model to accurately perform the prognosis prediction in AML patients.METHODS: We first screened for prognosis-related genes using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis in The Cancer Genome Atlas dataset and validated the results in the Oregon Health & Science University dataset. With a random forest model, we built a prognostic risk score using patient's age, TP53 mutation, ELN classification and normalized 197 gene expression as predictor variable. Gene set enrichment analysis was implemented to determine the dysregulated gene sets between the high-risk and low-risk groups. Similarity Network Fusion (SNF)-based integrative clustering was performed to identify subgroups of AML patients with different clinical features.
    RESULTS: The random forest model was deemed the best model (area under curve value, 0.75). The random forest-derived risk score exhibited significant association with shorter overall survival in AML patients. The gene sets of pantothenate and coa biosynthesis, glycerolipid metabolism, biosynthesis of unsaturated fatty acids were significantly enriched in phenotype high risk score. SNF-based integrative clustering indicated three distinct subsets of AML patients in the TCGA cohort. The cluster3 AML patients were characterized by older age, higher risk score, more frequent TP53 mutations, higher cytogenetics risk, shorter overall survival.
    CONCLUSIONS: The random forest-based risk score offers an effective method to perform prognosis prediction for AML patients.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukemia; Overall survival; Random forest; The risk score
  17. Cancer Cell. 2022 Feb 28. pii: S1535-6108(22)00058-7. [Epub ahead of print]
      Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive blood cancer with a poor prognosis. We report a comprehensive proteogenomic analysis of bone marrow biopsies from 252 uniformly treated AML patients to elucidate the molecular pathophysiology of AML in order to inform future diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. In addition to in-depth quantitative proteomics, our analysis includes cytogenetic profiling and DNA/RNA sequencing. We identify five proteomic AML subtypes, each reflecting specific biological features spanning genomic boundaries. Two of these proteomic subtypes correlate with patient outcome, but none is exclusively associated with specific genomic aberrations. Remarkably, one subtype (Mito-AML), which is captured only in the proteome, is characterized by high expression of mitochondrial proteins and confers poor outcome, with reduced remission rate and shorter overall survival on treatment with intensive induction chemotherapy. Functional analyses reveal that Mito-AML is metabolically wired toward stronger complex I-dependent respiration and is more responsive to treatment with the BCL2 inhibitor venetoclax.
    Keywords:  BCL-2 inhibitor; acute myeloid leukemia; chemotherapy; mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation; multi-omics data integration; proteogenomics; proteomics; venetoclax
  18. J Clin Oncol. 2022 Mar 02. JCO2101849
      PURPOSE: On the basis of data from the German Registry on Disorders of Eosinophils and Mast Cells, we compared the efficacy of midostaurin and cladribine in patients with advanced systemic mastocytosis (AdvSM).PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients with AdvSM (n = 139) were treated with midostaurin only (n = 63, 45%), cladribine only (n = 23, 17%), or sequentially (midostaurin-cladribine, n = 30, 57%; cladribine-midostaurin, n = 23, 43%). Prognosis was assessed through the Mutation-Adjusted Risk Score (MARS). Besides the comparison of efficacy between midostaurin and cladribine on response (eg, organ dysfunction, bone marrow mast cell [MC] infiltration, and tryptase), overall survival (OS), and leukemia-free survival, we focused on the impact of treatment on involved non-MC lineages, for example, monocytes or eosinophils, and the KIT D816V expressed allele burden.
    RESULTS: Midostaurin only was superior to cladribine only with effects from responses on MC and non-MC lineages conferring on a significantly improved OS (median 4.2 v 1.9 years, P = .033) and leukemia-free survival (2.7 v 1.3 years, P = .044) on the basis of a propensity score-weighted analysis of parameters included in MARS. Midostaurin compensated the inferior efficacy of cladribine in first- and second-line treatment. On midostaurin in any line, response of eosinophilia did not improve its baseline adverse prognostic impact, whereas response of monocytosis proved to be a positive on-treatment parameter. Multivariable analysis allowed to establish three risk categories (low/intermediate/high) through the combination of MARS and the reduction of the KIT D816V expressed allele burden of ≥ 25% at month 6 (median OS not reached v 3.0 years v 1.0 year; P < .001).
    CONCLUSION: In this registry-based analysis, midostaurin revealed superior efficacy over cladribine in patients with AdvSM. In midostaurin-treated patients, the combination of baseline MARS and molecular response provided a compelling three-tier risk categorization (MARSv2.0) for OS.
  19. Cancer Lett. 2022 Feb 25. pii: S0304-3835(22)00078-7. [Epub ahead of print]533 215603
      Mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase 1/2 (mIDH1/2) is a promising target for the treatment of cancer. The FDA approved two molecular entities, ivosidenib and enasidenib, which target mIDH1 and mIDH2, respectively, for the treatment of relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia (R/R AML). However, the alarming emergence of drug resistance to ivosidenib and enasidenib, a low response rate and relapse after short-term remission raised concerns about therapeutic options. Several mechanistic investigations of the resistance to these two drugs were performed, and multiple rational therapeutic strategies were proposed. The present review describes the primary and secondary resistance mechanisms of ivosidenib or enasidenib and the corresponding strategies for preventing drug resistance in detail. We discuss the opportunities and challenges for exploiting the next generation of mIDH1/2 inhibitors and translating the combination therapies presented in this paper into clinical applications for the treatment of the nonresponding or relapsed AML patients with IDH mutations.
    Keywords:  AML; Combination therapy; Drug resistance; IDH; Resistance mechanism
  20. Br J Haematol. 2022 Mar 04.
      KIT, a type III tyrosine kinase receptor, plays a crucial role in haematopoietic development. The KIT receptor forms a dimer after ligand binding; this activates tyrosine kinase activity leading to downstream signal transduction. The D816V KIT mutation is extensively implicated in haematological malignancies, including mastocytosis and leukaemia. KIT D816V is constitutively active, but the molecular nuances that lead to constitutive tyrosine kinase activity are unclear. For the first time, we present experimental evidence that the KIT D816V mutant does not dimerize like KIT wild type. We further show evidence of decreased stabilization of the tyrosine kinase domain in the KIT D816V mutant, a phenomenon that might contribute to its constitutive activity. Since the mechanism of KIT D816V activation varies from that of the wild type, we explored downstream signal transduction events and found that even though KIT D816V targets similar signalling moieties, the signalling is amplified in the mutant compared to stem cell factor-activated wild type receptor. Uniquely, KIT D816V induces infection-related pathways and the spliceosome pathway, providing alternate options for selective as well as combinatorial therapeutic targeting.
    Keywords:  KIT D816V; mastocytosis; proteomics
  21. Nat Biotechnol. 2022 Mar 03.
      Many cancers carry recurrent, change-of-function mutations affecting RNA splicing factors. Here, we describe a method to harness this abnormal splicing activity to drive splicing factor mutation-dependent gene expression to selectively eliminate tumor cells. We engineered synthetic introns that were efficiently spliced in cancer cells bearing SF3B1 mutations, but unspliced in otherwise isogenic wild-type cells, to yield mutation-dependent protein production. A massively parallel screen of 8,878 introns delineated ideal intronic size and mapped elements underlying mutation-dependent splicing. Synthetic introns enabled mutation-dependent expression of herpes simplex virus-thymidine kinase (HSV-TK) and subsequent ganciclovir (GCV)-mediated killing of SF3B1-mutant leukemia, breast cancer, uveal melanoma and pancreatic cancer cells in vitro, while leaving wild-type cells unaffected. Delivery of synthetic intron-containing HSV-TK constructs to leukemia, breast cancer and uveal melanoma cells and GCV treatment in vivo significantly suppressed the growth of these otherwise lethal xenografts and improved mouse host survival. Synthetic introns provide a means to exploit tumor-specific changes in RNA splicing for cancer gene therapy.
  22. Leuk Lymphoma. 2022 Feb 28. 1-8
      NPM1mut acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has been identified as a distinct entity of myeloid neoplasms according to the 2017 European LeukemiaNet (ELN) guidelines. It confers a favorable prognosis regardless of cytogenetic abnormalities. We evaluated 418 newly diagnosed AML patients to test the validity of this hypothesis. Seventy-four patients with NPM1mut AML showed a good response to induction and a relatively favorable prognosis. Abnormal karyotypes were observed in 15 patients. Chromosomal abnormalities were significantly associated with a worse prognosis in NPM1mut AML patients (5-year overall survival (OS): 38.9 ± 12.9%, p = .037; event-free survival (EFS): 33.3 ± 12.2%, p = .043, respectively). Four patients with abnormal karyotypes who underwent allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (alloHSCT) during CR1 had longer survival than those who received chemotherapy only. Multivariable analysis revealed abnormal karyotypes independently predicted OS and EFS among NPM1mut AML patients. In summary, cytogenetic abnormalities are strong prognostic indicators in NPM1mut AML. Therefore, they should be classified accordingly, and alloHSCT should be performed on selected patients during CR1.
    Keywords:  FMS-related tyrosine kinase 3; NPM1; Nucleophosmin 1; acute myeloid leukemia; cytogenetic abnormalities
  23. Mol Cancer. 2022 Mar 04. 21(1): 66
      BACKGROUND: Patients with relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) with FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3-internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) have limited treatment options and poor prognosis. Therefore, novel treatment modalities are needed. Since high expression of natural killer group 2 member D ligands (NKG2DLs) can be induced by FLT3 inhibitors, we constructed dual-target FLT3 single-chain fragment variable (scFv)/NKG2D-chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, and explored whether FLT3 inhibitors combined with FLT3scFv/NKG2D-CAR T cells could have synergistic anti-leukaemia effects.METHODS: FLT3scFv and NKG2D expression in CAR T cells, FLT3 and NKG2DL expression in AML cells, and the in vitro cytotoxicity of combining CAR T cells with gilteritinib were assessed by flow cytometry. The therapeutic effect was evaluated in a xenograft mouse model established by injection of MOLM-13 cells. Mechanisms underlying the gilteritinib-induced NKG2DL upregulation were investigated using siRNA, ChIP-QPCR and luciferase assays.
    RESULTS: The FLT3scFv/NKG2D-CAR T cells specifically lysed AML cells both in vitro and in the xenograft mouse model. The efficacy of FLT3scFv/NKG2D-CAR T cells was improved by gilteritinib-pretreatment. The noncanonical NF-κB2/Rel B signalling pathway was found to mediate gilteritinib-induced NKG2DL upregulation in AML cells.
    CONCLUSIONS: Bispecific FLT3scFv/NKG2D-CAR T cells can effectively eradicate AML cells. The FLT3 inhibitor gilteritinib can synergistically improve this effect by upregulating NF-κB2-dependent NKG2DL expression in AML cells.
    Keywords:  Acute myeloid leukaemia; Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR); FLT3 inhibitor; FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3); Gilteritinib; Immunotherapy; Natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D)
  24. EMBO J. 2022 Mar 01. e109463
      In order to support bone marrow regeneration after myeloablation, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) actively divide to provide both stem and progenitor cells. However, the mechanisms regulating HSC function and cell fate choice during hematopoietic recovery remain unclear. We herein provide novel insights into HSC regulation during regeneration by focusing on mitochondrial metabolism and ATP citrate lyase (ACLY). After 5-fluorouracil-induced myeloablation, HSCs highly expressing endothelial protein C receptor (EPCRhigh ) were enriched within the stem cell fraction at the expense of more proliferative EPCRLow HSCs. These EPCRHigh HSCs were initially more primitive than EPCRLow HSCs and enabled stem cell expansion by enhancing histone acetylation, due to increased activity of ACLY in the early phase of hematopoietic regeneration. In the late phase of recovery, HSCs enhanced differentiation potential by increasing the accessibility of cis-regulatory elements in progenitor cell-related genes, such as CD48. In conditions of reduced mitochondrial metabolism and ACLY activity, these HSCs maintained stem cell phenotypes, while ACLY-dependent histone acetylation promoted differentiation into CD48+ progenitor cells. Collectively, these results indicate that the dynamic control of ACLY-dependent metabolism and epigenetic alterations is essential for HSC regulation during hematopoietic regeneration.
    Keywords:  Acly; bone marrow regeneration; hematopoietic stem cells; mitochondrial metabolism
  25. BMC Med Genomics. 2022 Feb 28. 15(1): 38
      BACKGROUND: Recently, an increasing number of studies have reported that sperm-associated antigen (SPAG) proteins play crucial roles in solid tumorigenesis, and may serve as potentially helpful biomarkers for cancer diagnosis and prognosis. However, very few studies systematically investigated the expression of SPAG family members and their clinical significance in acute myeloid leukemia (AML).METHODS: The expression of SPAGs and their prognostic significance in AML were determined by a systematic analysis on data gathered from public databases, and the results were validated in clinical samples.
    RESULTS: Using public data, we identified only increased SPAG1 expression negatively associated with survival in AML by Cox regression (P < 0.001) and Kaplan-Meier analysis (P < 0.001). The prognostic value of SPAG1 expression was further confirmed in other independent cohorts. Clinically, higher SPAG1 expression was significantly correlated with white blood cell counts (P = 0.014) and French-American-British (FAB) subtypes (P = 0.024). Moreover, higher SPAG1 expression was more common in + 8 patients (P = 0.034), rarely found with t(8;21) (P = 0.014), and correlated with FLT3 (P < 0.001) and DNMT3A mutations (P = 0.001). Despite these associations, multivariate analysis confirmed the independent prognostic value of SPAG1 expression in AML (P < 0.001). Notably, AML patients with higher SPAG1 expression may benefit from hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), whereas patients with lower SPAG1 expression appeared less likely to benefit. Finally, we further validated that SPAG1 expression was significantly increased in newly diagnosed AML patients compared with normal controls (P < 0.001) and with AML patients who achieved complete remission (P < 0.001). Additionally, SPAG1 expression could act as a potentially helpful biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of AML (P < 0.001 and = 0.034, respectively).
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrated that SPAG1 overexpression may serve as an independent prognostic biomarker and may guide the choice between HSCT and chemotherapy in patients with AML.
    Keywords:  AML; Bioinformatics; Expression; Prognosis; SPAG1
  26. Nat Cancer. 2022 Feb;3(2): 156-172
      The folate metabolism enzyme MTHFD2 (methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase/cyclohydrolase) is consistently overexpressed in cancer but its roles are not fully characterized, and current candidate inhibitors have limited potency for clinical development. In the present study, we demonstrate a role for MTHFD2 in DNA replication and genomic stability in cancer cells, and perform a drug screen to identify potent and selective nanomolar MTHFD2 inhibitors; protein cocrystal structures demonstrated binding to the active site of MTHFD2 and target engagement. MTHFD2 inhibitors reduced replication fork speed and induced replication stress followed by S-phase arrest and apoptosis of acute myeloid leukemia cells in vitro and in vivo, with a therapeutic window spanning four orders of magnitude compared with nontumorigenic cells. Mechanistically, MTHFD2 inhibitors prevented thymidine production leading to misincorporation of uracil into DNA and replication stress. Overall, these results demonstrate a functional link between MTHFD2-dependent cancer metabolism and replication stress that can be exploited therapeutically with this new class of inhibitors.
  27. Bone Marrow Transplant. 2022 Feb 26.
      While in vivo T-cell depletion (TCD) is widely used, its benefit in patients with MDS still remains a matter of debate. This study evaluates the impact of TCD on outcomes, and compares ATG and alemtuzumab, in patients with MDS. 1284 patients from the EBMT registry were included in this study with 470 patients in the no-TCD group and 814 in the TCD group (alemtuzumab N = 168; ATG N = 646). At 6 months, aGVHD III-IV cumulative incidences (CI) for no-TCD, ATG or alemtuzumab groups were 13% vs 14% vs 11% (ns), respectively. At 5 years, CI of chronic GVHD were 64% vs 52% vs 51% (p < 0.00017); and CI of relapse was 23% vs 25% vs 39% (p < 0.0001) for no TCD, ATG and alemtuzumab respectively; OS was 47% vs 46% vs 34% (p = 0.009) respectively; and GRFS was 21% vs 28% and 20% (p = 0.045) respectively. In multivariable analysis, ATG improved GRFS, and alemtuzumab decreased OS. Both ATG and alemtuzumab decreased risk of chronic GVHD, but the increased risk of relapse with alemtuzumab is associated with a poor GRFS and suggest to not use alemtuzumab in the setting of allo-SCT for high risk disease.
  28. Blood Rev. 2022 Feb 25. pii: S0268-960X(22)00021-2. [Epub ahead of print] 100947
      Accelerated and blast phase myeloproliferative neoplasms present many challenges despite the advent of more novel and targeted therapeutic approaches. Outcome following transformation is frequently dismal, and the only curative approach remains allogeneic stem cell transplantation, applicable to a relatively small proportion of cases. Historically, potential risk factors for transformation from chronic phase disease have been based loosely on increasing age, long disease duration, use of sequential DNA-damaging agents, cytogenetic anomalies and advancing disease burden and limited genomic profiling which frequently reveals disparate signatures. Overall, the risk of these transformation events remains unpredictable, can occur in young individuals even without detectable high risk genomic profiles. Enhanced prognostic approaches would optimise monitoring and early intervention with potential to improve overall outcomes. Within this review we will summarise advances on disease biology, prognostication and molecular annotation and how this may ultimately lead to more rationale, stratified and forward-thinking therapeutic approaches.
    Keywords:  AML; ET; JAK2; Leukaemia; MPN; PV
  29. Blood Adv. 2022 Mar 04. pii: bloodadvances.2021006831. [Epub ahead of print]
      Patients with hematologic malignancies relapsing after allogeneic blood or marrow transplantation (BMT) have limited response to conventional salvage therapies with an expected 1-year overall survival (OS) of <20%. We evaluated the safety and clinical outcomes following administration of a novel T-cell therapeutic targeting three tumor associated antigens (TAA-T) in patients with acute leukemia who relapsed or were at high-risk of relapse after allogeneic BMT. Lymphocytes obtained from the BMT donor were manufactured to target TAAs; WT1, PRAME and survivin, which are over-expressed and immunogenic in most hematologic malignancies. Patients received TAA-T infusions at doses of 0.5-4x107/m2. Twenty-three BMT recipients with relapsed/refractory (n=11) and/or high-risk (n=12) acute myeloid leukemia (n=20) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (n=3) were infused post-transplant. No patient developed cytokine-release syndrome or neurotoxicity, and only one patient developed grade III GVHD. Of the patients who relapsed post-BMT and received bridging therapy, the majority (n=9/11) achieved complete hematologic remission before receiving TAA-T. Relapsed patients exhibited a 1-year OS of 36% and 1-year leukemia-free survival of 27.3% post-TAA-T. The poorest prognosis patients (relapsed <6 months after transplant) exhibited a 1-year OS of 42.8% post-relapse (n=7). Median survival was not reached for high-risk patients who received pre-emptive TAA-T post-transplant (n=12). Although as a Phase-I study concomitant anti-leukemic therapy was allowed, TAA-T were safe and well-tolerated and sustained remissions in high-risk and relapsed patients were observed. Moreover, adoptively transferred TAA-T detected by T-cell receptor V-beta (TCRVb) sequencing persisted up to at least 1 year post-infusion. ( numbers, NCT002203902).
  30. Mol Cell. 2022 Mar 02. pii: S1097-2765(22)00118-6. [Epub ahead of print]
      MLL rearrangements produce fusion oncoproteins that drive leukemia development, but the direct effects of MLL-fusion inactivation remain poorly defined. We designed models with degradable MLL::AF9 where treatment with small molecules induces rapid degradation. We leveraged the kinetics of this system to identify a core subset of MLL::AF9 target genes where MLL::AF9 degradation induces changes in transcriptional elongation within 15 minutes. MLL::AF9 degradation subsequently causes loss of a transcriptionally active chromatin landscape. We used this insight to assess the effectiveness of small molecules that target members of the MLL::AF9 multiprotein complex, specifically DOT1L and MENIN. Combined DOT1L/MENIN inhibition resembles MLL::AF9 degradation, whereas single-agent treatment has more modest effects on MLL::AF9 occupancy and gene expression. Our data show that MLL::AF9 degradation leads to decreases in transcriptional elongation prior to changes in chromatin landscape at select loci and that combined inhibition of chromatin complexes releases the MLL::AF9 oncoprotein from chromatin globally.
    Keywords:  DOT1L inhibition; MENIN inhibition; MLL-fusions; epigenetics; gene regulation; leukemia; targeted protein degradation
  31. Nucleic Acids Res. 2022 Mar 02. pii: gkac123. [Epub ahead of print]
      Precision epigenome editing has gained significant attention as a method to modulate gene expression without altering genetic information. However, a major limiting factor has been that the gene expression changes are often transient, unlike the life-long epigenetic changes that occur frequently in nature. Here, we systematically interrogate the ability of CRISPR/dCas9-based epigenome editors (Epi-dCas9) to engineer persistent epigenetic silencing. We elucidated cis regulatory features that contribute to the differential stability of epigenetic reprogramming, such as the active transcription histone marks H3K36me3 and H3K27ac strongly correlating with resistance to short-term repression and resistance to long-term silencing, respectively. H3K27ac inversely correlates with increased DNA methylation. Interestingly, the dependance on H3K27ac was only observed when a combination of KRAB-dCas9 and targetable DNA methyltransferases (DNMT3A-dCas9 + DNMT3L) was used, but not when KRAB was replaced with the targetable H3K27 histone methyltransferase Ezh2. In addition, programmable Ezh2/DNMT3A + L treatment demonstrated enhanced engineering of localized DNA methylation and was not sensitive to a divergent chromatin state. Our results highlight the importance of local chromatin features for heritability of programmable silencing and the differential response to KRAB- and Ezh2-based epigenetic editing platforms. The information gained in this study provides fundamental insights into understanding contextual cues to more predictably engineer persistent silencing.
  32. Exp Hematol. 2022 Feb 28. pii: S0301-472X(22)00075-3. [Epub ahead of print]
      Werner syndrome (WS) is a progeroid syndrome caused by mutations in the WRN gene, which encodes the RecQ type DNA helicase for the unwinding of unusual DNA structures and is implicated in DNA replication, DNA repair, and telomere maintenance. WS patients are prone to develop malignant neoplasms, including hematological malignancies. However, the pathogenesis of WS-associated hematological malignancies remains uncharacterized. Here we investigated the somatic gene mutations in WS-associated MDS/AML. Whole-exome sequencing (WES) of 4 WS patients with MDS/AML revealed that all patients had somatic mutations in TP53 but no other recurrent mutations in MDS/AML. TP53 mutations were identified at low allele frequencies at more than one year before the MDS/AML stage. All 4 patients had complex chromosomal abnormalities including those that involved TP53. Targeted sequencing of 9 WS patients without apparent blood abnormalities did not detect recurrent mutations in MDS/AML except for a PPM1D mutation. These results suggest that WS patients are apt to acquire TP53 mutations and/or chromosomal abnormalities involving TP53, rather than other MDS/AML-related mutations. TP53 mutations are frequently associated with prior exposure to chemotherapy; however, all 4 WS patients with TP53 mutations/deletions had not received any prior chemotherapy, suggesting a pathogenic link between WRN mutations and p53 insufficiency. These results indicate that WS hematopoietic stem cells with WRN insufficiency acquire competitive fitness by inactivating p53, which may cause complex chromosomal abnormalities and the subsequent development of myeloid malignancies. These findings promote our understanding of the pathogenesis of myeloid malignancies associated with progeria.