Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) stem cell survival is not dependent on BCR-ABL protein kinase and treatment with ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors cures only a minority of CML patients, thus highlighting the need for novel therapeutic targets. The Janus kinase (JAK)2/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)5 pathway has recently been explored for providing putative survival signals to CML stem/progenitor cells (SPCs) with contradictory results. We investigated the role of this pathway using the JAK2 inhibitor, ruxolitinib (RUX). We demonstrated that the combination of RUX, at clinically achievable concentrations, with the specific and potent tyrosine kinase inhibitor nilotinib, reduced the activity of the JAK2/STAT5 pathway in vitro relative to either single agent alone. These effects correlated with increased apoptosis of CML SPCs in vitro and a reduction in primitive quiescent CML stem cells, including NOD.Cg-Prkdc(scid) IL2rg(tm1Wjl) /SzJ mice repopulating cells, induced by combination treatment. A degree of toxicity toward normal SPCs was observed with the combination treatment, although this related to mature B-cell engraftment in NOD.Cg-Prkdc(scid) IL2rg(tm1Wjl) /SzJ mice with minimal effects on primitive CD34(+) cells. These results support the JAK2/STAT5 pathway as a relevant therapeutic target in CML SPCs and endorse the current use of nilotinib in combination with RUX in clinical trials to eradicate persistent disease in CML patients.
Acquired resistance through genetic mutations is a major obstacle in targeted cancer therapy, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here we studied mechanisms of acquired resistance of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) by examining genome-wide gene expression changes in KCL-22 CML cells versus their resistant KCL-22M cells that acquire T315I BCR-ABL mutation following TKI exposure. Although T315I BCR-ABL is sufficient to confer resistance to TKIs in CML cells, surprisingly we found that multiple drug resistance pathways were activated in KCL-22M cells along with reduced expression of a set of myeloid differentiation genes. Forced myeloid differentiation by all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) effectively blocked acquisition of BCR-ABL mutations and resistance to the TKIs imatinib, nilotinib or dasatinib in our previously described in vitro models of acquired TKI resistance. ATRA induced robust expression of CD38, a cell surface marker and cellular NADase. High levels of CD38 reduced intracellular nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) levels and blocked acquired resistance by inhibiting the activity of the NAD+-dependent SIRT1 deacetylase that we have previously shown to promote resistance in CML cells by facilitating error-prone DNA damage repair. Consequently, ATRA treatment decreased DNA damage repair and suppressed acquisition of BCR-ABL mutations. This study sheds novel insight into mechanisms underlying acquired resistance in CML, and suggests potential benefit of combining ATRA with TKIs in treating CML, particularly in advanced phases.
Unintentionally formed nanocrystalline graphene (nc-G) can act as a useful seed for the large-area synthesis of a hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) thin film with an atomically flat surface that is comparable to that of exfoliated single-crystal h-BN. A wafer-scale dielectric h-BN thin film was successfully synthesized on a bare sapphire substrate by assistance of nc-G, which prevented structural deformations in a chemical vapor deposition process. The growth mechanism of this nc-G-tailored h-BN thin film was systematically analyzed. This approach provides a novel method for preparing high-quality two-dimensional materials on a large surface.
We examined the antineoplastic effects of the iron chelators, deferasirox and deferoxamine in multiple myeloma cell lines as well as primary myeloma cells. These iron chelators showed marked antiproliferative activity as well as cytotoxicity toward myeloma cell lines and deferasirox was cytotoxic to bone marrow plasma cells from myeloma patients. We also demonstrate that autophagy induced by iron deprivation is the dominant mechanism that mediates the cytotoxicity of iron chelators in multiple myeloma. Exposure to iron chelators led to repression of mTOR signaling as evidenced by decreased phosphorylation of its target p70S6 kinase. Iron chelation, in particular with deferasirox has the potential to be readily translated to a clinical trial for multiple myeloma.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is sustained by small populations of leukemia stem cells (LSCs) that can resist available treatments and represent important barriers to cure. Although previous studies have shown increased signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT)3 and STAT5 phosphorylation in AML leukemic blasts, the role of Janus kinase (JAK) signaling in primary AML compared with normal stem cells has not been directly evaluated. We show here that JAK/STAT signaling is increased in LSCs, particularly from high-risk AML. JAK2 inhibition using small molecule inhibitors or interference RNA reduced growth of AML LSCs while sparing normal stem cells both in vitro and in vivo. Increased JAK/STAT activity was associated with increased expression and altered signaling through growth factor receptors in AML LSCs, including receptor tyrosine kinase c-KIT and FMS-related tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3). Inhibition of c-KIT and FLT3 expression significantly inhibited JAK/STAT signaling in AML LSCs, and JAK inhibitors effectively inhibited FLT3-mutated AML LSCs. Our results indicate that JAK/STAT signaling represents an important signaling mechanism supporting AML LSC growth and survival. These studies support continued evaluation of strategies for JAK/STAT inhibition for therapeutic targeting of AML LSCs.
The FLT3-ITD mutation is frequently observed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and is associated with poor prognosis. In such patients, FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are only partially effective and do not eliminate the leukemia stem cells (LSCs) that are assumed to be the source of treatment failure. Here, we show that the NAD-dependent SIRT1 deacetylase is selectively overexpressed in primary human FLT3-ITD AML LSCs. This SIRT1 overexpression is related to enhanced expression of the USP22 deubiquitinase induced by c-MYC, leading to reduced SIRT1 ubiquitination and enhanced stability. Inhibition of SIRT1 expression or activity reduced the growth of FLT3-ITD AML LSCs and significantly enhanced TKI-mediated killing of the cells. Therefore, these results identify a c-MYC-related network that enhances SIRT1 protein expression in human FLT3-ITD AML LSCs and contributes to their maintenance. Inhibition of this oncogenic network could be an attractive approach for targeting FLT3-ITD AML LSCs to improve treatment outcomes.
Patients who develop therapy-related myelodysplasia/acute myeloid leukemia after autologous-hematopoietic stem cell (aHCT) transplant show lower expression levels of DNA repair genes in their pre-aHCT CD34+ cells. To investigate whether this leads to functional differences in DNA repair abilities measurable in patients, we adapted two plasmid-based host-cell reactivation assays for use in primary lymphocytes. Prior to applying these assays to patients who underwent aHCT, we wanted first to verify whether sample preparation affected repair measurements, as patient samples were simply depleted of erythrocytes (with hetastarch) prior to freezing, which is not the classical way to prepare lymphocytes prior to DNA repair experiments (with a density gradient). We show here that lymphocytes from healthy donors freshly prepared with hetastarch show systematically a higher level of double-strand break repair as compared to when prepared with a density gradient, but that most of this difference disappears after samples were frozen. Several observations points to granulocytes as the source for this effect of sample preparation on repair: 1) removal of granulocytes makes the effect disappear, 2) DSB repair measurements for the same individual correlate to the percentage of granulocytes in the sample and 3) nucleofection in presence of granulocytes increases the level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in neighboring lymphocytes in a dose-dependent manner (R2 of 0.95). These results indicate that co-purified granulocytes, possibly through the release of ROS at time of transfection, can lead to an enhanced repair in lymphocytes that obfuscates any evaluation of inter individual differences in repair as measured by host-cell reactivation. As a result, hetastarch-prepared samples are likely unsuitable for the assessment of DSB repair in primary cells with that type of assay. Granulocyte contamination that exists after a density gradient preparation, although much more limited, could have similar effects, but might be circumvented by freezing cells prior to analysis.
Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is an oncogene and immune checkpoint commonly activated in cancer cells and in tumor-associated immune cells. We previously developed an immunostimulatory strategy based on targeted Stat3 silencing in Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9)-positive hematopoietic cells using CpG-small interfering RNA (siRNA) conjugates. Here, we assessed the therapeutic effect of systemic STAT3 blocking/TLR9 triggering in disseminated acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We used mouse Cbfb-MYH11/Mpl-induced leukemia model, which mimics human inv(16) AML. Our results demonstrate that intravenously delivered CpG-Stat3 siRNA, but not control oligonucleotides, can eradicate established AML and impair leukemia-initiating potential. These antitumor effects require hosts effector T cells but not TLR9-positive antigen-presenting cells. Instead, CpG-Stat3 siRNA has direct immunogenic effect on AML cells in vivo upregulating major histocompatibility complex class-II, costimulatory and proinflammatory mediators, such as interleukin-12, while downregulating coinhibitory PD-L1 molecule. Systemic injections of CpG-Stat3 siRNA generate potent tumor antigen-specific immune responses, increase the ratio of tumor-infiltrating CD8(+) T cells to regulatory T cells in various organs, and result in CD8(+) T-cell-dependent regression of leukemia. Our findings underscore the potential of using targeted STAT3 inhibition/TLR9 triggering to break tumor tolerance and induce immunity against AML and potentially other TLR9-positive blood cancers.
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) stem cells are not dependent on BCR-ABL kinase for their survival, suggesting that kinase-independent mechanisms must contribute to their persistence. We observed that CML stem/progenitor cells (SPCs) produce tumor necrosis factor-? (TNF-?) in a kinase-independent fashion and at higher levels relative to their normal counterparts. We therefore investigated the role of TNF-? and found that it supports survival of CML SPCs by promoting nuclear factor ?B/p65 pathway activity and expression of the interleukin 3 and granulocyte/macrophage-colony stimulating factor common ?-chain receptor. Furthermore, we demonstrate that in CML SPCs, inhibition of autocrine TNF-? signaling via a small-molecule TNF-? inhibitor induces apoptosis. Moreover TNF-? inhibition combined with nilotinib induces significantly more apoptosis relative to either treatment alone and a reduction in the absolute number of primitive quiescent CML stem cells. These results highlight a novel survival mechanism of CML SPCs and suggest a new putative therapeutic target for their eradication.
Induction treatments for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have remained largely unchanged for nearly 50 years, and AML remains a disease of poor prognosis. Allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation can achieve cures in select patients and highlights the susceptibility of AML to donor-derived immunotherapy. The interleukin-3 receptor ? chain (CD123) has been identified as a potential immunotherapeutic target because it is overexpressed in AML compared with normal hematopoietic stem cells. Therefore, we developed 2 chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) containing a CD123-specific single-chain variable fragment, in combination with a CD28 costimulatory domain and CD3-? signaling domain, targeting different epitopes on CD123. CD123-CAR-redirected T cells mediated potent effector activity against CD123+ cell lines as well as primary AML patient samples. CD123 CAR T cells did not eliminate granulocyte/macrophage and erythroid colony formation in vitro. Additionally, T cells obtained from patients with active AML can be modified to express CD123 CARs and are able to lyse autologous AML blasts in vitro. Finally, CD123 CAR T cells exhibited antileukemic activity in vivo against a xenogeneic model of disseminated AML. These results suggest that CD123 CAR T cells are a promising immunotherapy for the treatment of high-risk AML.
The SRC family kinases (SFKs) and the receptor tyrosine kinase c-Kit are activated in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. We show here that the SFKs LYN, HCK, or FGR are overexpressed and activated in AML progenitor cells. Treatment with the SFK and c-KIT inhibitor dasatinib selectively inhibits human AML stem/progenitor cell growth in vitro. Importantly, dasatinib markedly increases the elimination of AML stem cells capable of engrafting immunodeficient mice by chemotherapeutic agents. In vivo dasatinib treatment enhances chemotherapy-induced targeting of primary murine AML stem cells capable of regenerating leukemia in secondary recipients. Our studies suggest that enhanced targeting of AML cells by the combination of dasatinib with daunorubicin may be related to inhibition of AKT-mediated human mouse double minute 2 homolog phosphorylation, resulting in enhanced p53 activity in AML cells. Combined treatment using dasatinib and chemotherapy provides a novel approach to increasing p53 activity and enhancing targeting of AML stem cells.
Genomic instability is a hallmark of chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CML-CP) resulting in BCR-ABL1 mutations encoding resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and/or additional chromosomal aberrations leading to disease relapse and/or malignant progression. TKI-naive and TKI-treated leukemia stem cells (LSCs) and leukemia progenitor cells (LPCs) accumulate high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative DNA damage. To determine the role of TKI-refractory LSCs in genomic instability, we used a murine model of CML-CP where ROS-induced oxidative DNA damage was elevated in LSCs, including quiescent LSCs, but not in LPCs. ROS-induced oxidative DNA damage in LSCs caused clinically relevant genomic instability in CML-CP-like mice, such as TKI-resistant BCR-ABL1 mutations (E255K, T315I, H396P), deletions in Ikzf1 and Trp53, and additions in Zfp423 and Idh1. Despite inhibition of BCR-ABL1 kinase, imatinib did not downregulate ROS and oxidative DNA damage in TKI-refractory LSCs to the levels detected in normal cells, and CML-CP-like mice treated with imatinib continued to accumulate clinically relevant genetic aberrations. Inhibition of class I p21-activated protein kinases by IPA3 downregulated ROS in TKI-naive and TKI-treated LSCs. Altogether, we postulate that genomic instability may originate in the most primitive TKI-refractory LSCs in TKI-naive and TKI-treated patients.
This review provides a concise summary of significant research progress on SIRT1 deacetylase in leukemia in the past year. SIRT1 is a multifunctional protein and recent studies demonstrate that SIRT1 plays a crucial role in myeloid leukemogenesis and drug resistance.
The success of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in treating chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) depends on the requirement for BCR-ABL1 kinase activity in CML progenitors. However, CML quiescent HSCs are TKI resistant and represent a BCR-ABL1 kinase-independent disease reservoir. Here we have shown that persistence of leukemic HSCs in BM requires inhibition of the tumor suppressor protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) and expression--but not activity--of the BCR-ABL1 oncogene. Examination of HSCs from CML patients and healthy individuals revealed that PP2A activity was suppressed in CML compared with normal HSCs. TKI-resistant CML quiescent HSCs showed increased levels of BCR-ABL1, but very low kinase activity. BCR-ABL1 expression, but not kinase function, was required for recruitment of JAK2, activation of a JAK2/?-catenin survival/self-renewal pathway, and inhibition of PP2A. PP2A-activating drugs (PADs) markedly reduced survival and self-renewal of CML quiescent HSCs, but not normal quiescent HSCs, through BCR-ABL1 kinase-independent and PP2A-mediated inhibition of JAK2 and ?-catenin. This led to suppression of human leukemic, but not normal, HSC/progenitor survival in BM xenografts and interference with long-term maintenance of BCR-ABL1-positive HSCs in serial transplantation assays. Targeting the JAK2/PP2A/?-catenin network in quiescent HSCs with PADs (e.g., FTY720) has the potential to treat TKI-refractory CML and relieve lifelong patient dependence on TKIs.
RAD51 recombinase activity plays a critical role for cancer cell proliferation and survival, and often contributes to drug-resistance. Abnormally elevated RAD51 function and hyperactive homologous recombination (HR) rates have been found in a panel of cancers, including breast cancer and chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). Directly targeting RAD51 and attenuating the deregulated RAD51 activity has therefore been proposed as an alternative and supplementary strategy for cancer treatment. Here we show that a newly identified small molecule, IBR2, disrupts RAD51 multimerization, accelerates proteasome-mediated RAD51 protein degradation, reduces ionizing radiation-induced RAD51 foci formation, impairs HR, inhibits cancer cell growth and induces apoptosis. In a murine imatinib-resistant CML model bearing the T315I Bcr-abl mutation, IBR2, but not imatinib, significantly prolonged animal survival. Moreover, IBR2 effectively inhibits the proliferation of CD34(+) progenitor cells from CML patients resistant to known BCR-ABL inhibitors. Therefore, small molecule inhibitors of RAD51 may suggest a novel class of broad-spectrum therapeutics for difficult-to-treat cancers.
A thermostable amidase produced by Geobacillus subterraneus RL-2a was purified to homogeneity, with a yield of 9.54 % and a specific activity of 48.66 U mg(-1). The molecular weight of the native enzyme was estimated to be 111 kDa. The amidase of G. subterraneus RL-2a is constitutive in nature, active at a broad range of pH (4.5-11.5) and temperature (40-90 °C) and has a half-life of 5 h and 54 min at 70 °C. Inhibition of enzyme activity was observed in the presence of metal ions, such as Co(2+), Hg(2+), Cu(2+), Ni(2+), and thiol reagents. The presence of mid-chain aliphatic and amino acid amides enhances the enzymatic activity. The acyl transferase activity was detected with propionamide, butyramide and nicotinamide. The enzyme showed moderate stability toward toluene, carbon tetrachloride, benzene, ethylene glycol except acetone, ethanol, butanol, propanol and dimethyl sulfoxide. The K m and V max of the purified amidase with nicotinamide were 6.02 ± 0.56 mM and 132.6 ± 4.4 ?mol min(-1) mg(-1) protein by analyzing Michaelis-Menten kinetics. The results of MALDI-TOF analysis indicated that this amidase has homology with the amidase of Geobacillus sp. C56-T3 (gi|297530427). It is the first reported wide-spectrum thermostable amidase from a thermophilic G. subterraneus.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are highly effective in treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) but do not eliminate leukemia stem cells (LSCs), which remain a potential source of relapse. TKI treatment effectively inhibits BCR-ABL kinase activity in CML LSCs, suggesting that additional kinase-independent mechanisms contribute to LSC preservation. We investigated whether signals from the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment protect CML LSCs from TKI treatment. Coculture with human BM mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) significantly inhibited apoptosis and preserved CML stem/progenitor cells following TKI exposure, maintaining colony-forming ability and engraftment potential in immunodeficient mice. We found that the N-cadherin receptor plays an important role in MSC-mediated protection of CML progenitors from TKI. N-cadherin-mediated adhesion to MSCs was associated with increased cytoplasmic N-cadherin-?-catenin complex formation as well as enhanced ?-catenin nuclear translocation and transcriptional activity. Increased exogenous Wnt-mediated ?-catenin signaling played an important role in MSC-mediated protection of CML progenitors from TKI treatment. Our results reveal a close interplay between N-cadherin and the Wnt-?-catenin pathway in protecting CML LSCs during TKI treatment. Importantly, these results reveal novel mechanisms of resistance of CML LSCs to TKI treatment and suggest new targets for treatment designed to eradicate residual LSCs in CML patients.
STAT3 operates in both cancer cells and tumor-associated immune cells to promote cancer progression. As a transcription factor, it is a highly desirable but difficult target for pharmacologic inhibition. We have recently shown that the TLR9 agonists CpG oligonucleotides can be used for targeted siRNA delivery to mouse immune cells. In the present study, we demonstrate that a similar strategy allows for targeted gene silencing in both normal and malignant human TLR9(+) hematopoietic cells in vivo. We have developed new human cell-specific CpG(A)-STAT3 siRNA conjugates capable of inducing TLR9-dependent gene silencing and activation of primary immune cells such as myeloid dendritic cells, plasmacytoid dendritic cells, and B cells in vitro. TLR9 is also expressed by several human hematologic malignancies, including B-cell lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and acute myeloid leukemia. We further demonstrate that oncogenic proteins such as STAT3 or BCL-X(L) are effectively knocked down by specific CpG(A)-siRNAs in TLR9(+) hematologic tumor cells in vivo. Targeting survival signaling using CpG(A)-siRNAs inhibits the growth of several xenotransplanted multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukemia tumors. CpG(A)-STAT3 siRNA is immunostimulatory and nontoxic for normal human leukocytes in vitro. The results of the present study show the potential of using tumoricidal/immunostimulatory CpG-siRNA oligonucleotides as a novel 2-pronged therapeutic strategy for hematologic malignancies.
The tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib is highly effective in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), but primary and acquired resistance of CML cells to the drug offset its efficacy. Molecular mechanisms for resistance of CML to tyrosine kinase inhibitors are not fully understood. In the present study, we show that BCR-ABL activates the expression of the mammalian stress response gene SIRT1 in hematopoietic progenitor cells and that this involves STAT5 signaling. SIRT1 activation promotes CML cell survival and proliferation associated with deacetylation of multiple SIRT1 substrates, including FOXO1, p53, and Ku70. Imatinib-mediated inhibition of BCR-ABL kinase activity partially reduces SIRT1 expression and SIRT1 inhibition further sensitizes CML cells to imatinib-induced apoptosis. Knockout of SIRT1 suppresses BCR-ABL transformation of mouse BM cells and the development of a CML-like myeloproliferative disease, and treatment of mice with the SIRT1 inhibitor tenovin-6 deters disease progression. The combination of SIRT1 gene knockout and imatinib treatment further extends the survival of CML mice. Our results suggest that SIRT1 is a novel survival pathway activated by BCR-ABL expression in hematopoietic progenitor cells, which promotes oncogenic transformation and leukemogenesis. Our findings suggest further exploration of SIRT1 as a therapeutic target for CML treatment to overcome resistance.
Recent evidence suggests chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) stem cells are insensitive to kinase inhibitors and responsible for minimal residual disease in treated patients. We investigated whether CML stem cells, in a transgenic mouse model of CML-like disease or derived from patients, are dependent on Bcr-Abl. In the transgenic model, after retransplantation, donor-derived CML stem cells in which Bcr-Abl expression had been induced and subsequently shut off were able to persist in vivo and reinitiate leukemia in secondary recipients on Bcr-Abl reexpression. Bcr-Abl knockdown in human CD34(+) CML cells cultured for 12 days in physiologic growth factors achieved partial inhibition of Bcr-Abl and downstream targets p-CrkL and p-STAT5, inhibition of proliferation and colony forming cells, but no reduction of input cells. The addition of dasatinib further inhibited p-CrkL and p-STAT5, yet only reduced input cells by 50%. Complete growth factor withdrawal plus dasatinib further reduced input cells to 10%; however, the surviving fraction was enriched for primitive leukemic cells capable of growth in a long-term culture-initiating cell assay and expansion on removal of dasatinib and addition of growth factors. Together, these data suggest that CML stem cell survival is Bcr-Abl kinase independent and suggest curative approaches in CML must focus on kinase-independent mechanisms of resistance.
Serine/threonine kinase Aurora A is essential for regulating mammalian cell division and is overexpressed in many types of human cancer. However, the role of Aurora A in chemoresistance of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is not well understood. Using the KCL-22 cell culture model we have recently developed for studying mechanisms of CML acquired resistance, we found that Aurora A expression was partially reduced in these cells upon treatment with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib, which accompanied the acquisition of BCR-ABL mutation for imatinib resistance. Gene knockdown of BCR-ABL also reduced Aurora A expression, and conversely, Aurora A expression increased in hematopoietic progenitor cells after BCR-ABL expression. Inhibition of Aurora A induced apoptosis of CML cells with or without T315I BCR-ABL mutation and suppressed CML cell growth. Inhibition of Aurora A by gene knockdown or a highly specific small molecule inhibitor sensitized CML cells to imatinib treatment and effectively blocked acquisition of BCR-ABL mutations and KCL-22 cell relapse on imatinib, nilotinib or dasatinib. Our results show that Aurora A plays an important role for facilitating acquisition of BCR-ABL mutation and acquired resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the culture model and suggest that inhibition of Aurora A may provide an alternative strategy to improve CML treatment to overcome resistance.
Imatinib mesylate treatment markedly reduces the burden of leukemia cells in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) patients. However, patients remain at risk for relapse on discontinuing treatment. We have previously shown that residual BCR-ABL(+) progenitors can be detected in CML patients within the first 2 years of imatinib treatment. However, reduced rates of relapse and continued decline of BCR-ABL levels with prolonged treatment, together with the ability of selected patients to maintain remission after discontinuing treatment, led us to investigate whether prolonged imatinib exposure resulted in reduction or elimination of BCR-ABL(+) stem cells. We evaluated BCR-ABL expression in CD34(+)CD38(+) (38(+)) committed progenitors and CD34(+)CD38(-) (38(-)) stem/primitive progenitor cells in samples from CML patients on imatinib treatment for at least 4 years with cytogenetic and molecular response. High levels of BCR-ABL expression were maintained over time in the 38(-) stem cell fraction. The absolute frequency of BCR-ABL(+) cells as determined by limiting dilution analysis was consistently higher in 38(-) compared with 38(+) cells. Transplantation into NOD/SCID-IL2R?-chain knockout mice demonstrated that BCR-ABL(+) cells had long-term in vivo repopulating capacity. These results directly demonstrate that BCR-ABL(+) stem cells persist in CML patients despite prolonged treatment with imatinib, and support ongoing efforts to target this population.
Therapy-related myelodysplasia or acute myeloid leukemia (t-MDS/AML) is a major complication of cancer treatment. We compared gene expression in CD34+ cells from patients who developed t-MDS/AML after autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation (aHCT) for lymphoma with controls who did not develop t-MDS/AML. We observed altered gene expression related to mitochondrial function, metabolism, and hematopoietic regulation in pre-aHCT samples from patients who subsequently developed t-MDS/AML. Progression to overt t-MDS/AML was associated with additional alterations in cell-cycle regulatory genes. An optimal 38-gene PBSC classifier accurately distinguished patients who did or did not develop t-MDS/AML in an independent group of patients. We conclude that genetic programs associated with t-MDS/AML are perturbed long before disease onset, and accurately identify patients at risk for this complication.
The serine proteases, neutrophil elastase (HNE) and proteinase 3 (PR3), are aberrantly expressed in human myeloid leukemias. T-cell responses to these proteins have been correlated with remission in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Human PR3/HNE-specific CD8(+) T cells predominantly recognize a nonameric HLA-A2-restricted T-cell epitope called PR1 which is conserved in both Ags. However, CML patients have CD8(+) T cells in peripheral blood recognizing an additional HLA-A2 epitope termed PR2. To assess immunologic properties of these Ags, novel recombinant vaccinia viruses (rVV) expressing PR3 and HNE were evaluated in HLA-A2 transgenic (Tg) mice (HHDII). Immunization of HHDII mice with rVV-PR3 elicited a robust PR3-specific CD8(+) T-cell response dominated by recognition of PR2, with minimal recognition of the PR1 epitope. This result was unexpected, because the PR2 peptide has been reported to bind poorly to HLA. To account for these findings, we proposed that HHDII mice negatively selected PR1-specific T cells because of the presence of this epitope within murine PR3 and HNE, leading to immunodominance of PR2-specific responses. PR2-specific splenocytes are cytotoxic to targets expressing naturally processed PR3, though PR1-specific splenocytes are not. We conclude that PR2 represents a functional T-cell epitope recognized in mice and human leukemia patients. These studies are registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00716911.
SHP2, a cytoplasmic protein-tyrosine phosphatase encoded by the PTPN11 gene, plays a critical role in developmental hematopoiesis in the mouse, and gain-of-function mutations of SHP2 are associated with hematopoietic malignancies. However, the role of SHP2 in adult hematopoiesis has not been addressed in previous studies. In addition, the role of SHP2 in human hematopoiesis has not been described. These questions are of considerable importance given the interest in development of SHP2 inhibitors for cancer treatment. We used shRNA-mediated inhibition of SHP2 expression to investigate the function of SHP2 in growth factor (GF) signaling in normal human CD34(+) cells. SHP2 knockdown resulted in markedly reduced proliferation and survival of cells cultured with GF, and reduced colony-forming cell growth. Cells expressing gain-of-function SHP2 mutations demonstrated increased dependency on SHP2 expression for survival compared with cells expressing wild-type SHP2. SHP2 knockdown was associated with significantly reduced myeloid and erythroid differentiation with retention of CD34(+) progenitors with enhanced proliferative capacity. Inhibition of SHP2 expression initially enhanced and later inhibited STAT5 phosphorylation and reduced expression of the antiapoptotic genes MCL1 and BCLXL. These results indicate an important role for SHP2 in STAT5 activation and GF-mediated proliferation, survival, and differentiation of human progenitor cells.
Adult stem cells are maintained in a quiescent state but are able to exit quiescence and rapidly expand and differentiate in response to stress. The quiescent state appears to be necessary for preserving the self-renewal of stem cells and is a critical factor in the resistance of cancer stem cells (CSCs) to chemotherapy and targeted therapies. Limited knowledge about quiescence mechanisms has prevented significant advances in targeting of drug-resistant quiescent CSCs populations in the clinic. Thus, an improved understanding of the molecular mechanisms of quiescence in adult stem cells is critical for the development of molecularly targeted therapies against quiescent CSCs in different cancers. Recent studies have provided a better understanding of the intrinsic and extrinsic regulatory mechanisms that control stem cell quiescence. It is now appreciated that the p53 gene plays a critical role in regulating stem cell quiescence. Other intrinsic regulatory mechanisms include the FoxO, HIF-1?, and NFATc1 transcription factors and signaling through ATM and mTOR. Extrinsic microenvironmental regulatory mechanisms include angiopoietin-1, TGF-?, bone morphogenic protein, thrombopoietin, N-cadherin, and integrin adhesion receptors; Wnt/?-catenin signaling; and osteopontin. In this article, we review current advances in understanding normal stem cell quiescence, their significance for CSC quiescence and drug resistance, and the potential clinical applications of these findings.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the oldest and most successful form of stem cell therapy. High dose therapy (HDT) followed by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation allows physicians to administer increased amounts of chemotherapy and/or radiation while minimizing negative side effects such as damage to blood-producing bone marrow cells. Although HDT is successful in treating a wide range of cancers, it leads to lethal therapy-related myelodysplasia syndrome or acute myeloid leukemia (t-MDS/AML) in 5--10% of patients undergoing autologous hematopoietic cell transplantation for Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In this study, we carried out metabolomic analysis of peripheral blood stem cell samples collected in a cohort of patients before hematopoietic cell transplantation to gain insights into the molecular and cellular pathogenesis of t-MDS. Nonparametric tests and multivariate analyses were used to compare the metabolite concentrations in samples from patients that developed t-MDS within 5 years of transplantation and the patients that did not. The results suggest that the development of t-MDS is associated with dysfunctions in cellular metabolic pathways. The top canonical pathways suggested by the metabolomic analysis include alanine and aspartate metabolism, glyoxylate and dicarboxylate metabolism, phenylalanine metabolism, citrate acid cycle, and aminoacyl-t-RNA biosynthesis. Dysfunctions in these pathways indicate mitochondrial dysfunction that would result in decreased ability to detoxify reactive oxygen species generated by chemo and radiation therapy, therefore leading to cancer-causing mutations. These observations suggest predisposing factors for the development of t-MDS.
B cells play a central role in immune system function. Deregulation of normal B cell maturation can lead to the development of autoimmune syndromes as well as B cell malignancies. Elucidation of the molecular features of normal B cell development is important for the development of new target therapies for autoimmune diseases and B cell malignancies. Employing B cell-specific conditional knockout mice, we have demonstrated here that the transcription factor leukemia/lymphoma-related factor (LRF) forms an obligate dimer in B cells and regulates mature B cell lineage fate and humoral immune responses via distinctive mechanisms. Moreover, LRF inactivation in transformed B cells attenuated their growth rate. These studies identify what we believe to be a new key factor for mature B cell development and provide a rationale for targeting LRF dimers for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and B cell malignancies.
Imatinib mesylate (IM) induces remission in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) patients but does not eliminate leukemia stem cells (LSCs), which remain a potential source of relapse. Here we investigated the ability of HDAC inhibitors (HDACis) to target CML stem cells. Treatment with HDACis combined with IM effectively induced apoptosis in quiescent CML progenitors resistant to elimination by IM alone, and eliminated CML stem cells capable of engrafting immunodeficient mice. In vivo administration of HDACis with IM markedly diminished LSCs in a transgenic mouse model of CML. The interaction of IM and HDACis inhibited genes regulating hematopoietic stem cell maintenance and survival. HDACi treatment represents an effective strategy to target LSCs in CML patients receiving tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
The aim of this study was to compare outcomes after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with sirolimus-eluting stents (SES) and paclitaxel-eluting stents (PES) in the treatment of cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV).
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is treated effectively with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs); however, 2 key problems remain-the insensitivity of CML stem and progenitor cells to TKIs and the emergence of TKI-resistant BCR-ABL mutations. BCR-ABL activity is associated with increased proteasome activity and proteasome inhibitors (PIs) are cytotoxic against CML cell lines. We demonstrate that bortezomib is antiproliferative and induces apoptosis in chronic phase (CP) CD34+ CML cells at clinically achievable concentrations. We also show that bortezomib targets primitive CML cells, with effects on CD34+38(-), long-term culture-initiating (LTC-IC) and nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient (NOD/SCID) repopulating cells. Bortezomib is not selective for CML cells and induces apoptosis in normal CD34+38(-) cells. The effects against CML cells are seen when bortezomib is used alone and in combination with dasatinib. Bortezomib causes proteasome but not BCR-ABL inhibition and is also effective in inhibiting proteasome activity and inducing apoptosis in cell lines expressing BCR-ABL mutations, including T315I. By targeting both TKI-insensitive stem and progenitor cells and TKI-resistant BCR-ABL mutations, we believe that bortezomib offers a potential therapeutic option in CML. Because of known toxicities, including myelosuppression, the likely initial clinical application of bortezomib in CML would be in resistant and advanced disease.
There has been a recent growth in the use of whole body Computerised Tomography (CT) scans in the private sector as a screening test for asymptomatic disease. This is despite scant evidence to show any positive effect on morbidity or mortality. There has been concern raised over the possible harms of the test in terms of radiation exposure as well as the risk and anxiety of further investigation and treatment for the large numbers of benign lesions identified.
MicroRNAs and heterogeneous ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) are posttranscriptional gene regulators that bind mRNA in a sequence-specific manner. Here, we report that loss of miR-328 occurs in blast crisis chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML-BC) in a BCR/ABL dose- and kinase-dependent manner through the MAPK-hnRNP E2 pathway. Restoration of miR-328 expression rescues differentiation and impairs survival of leukemic blasts by simultaneously interacting with the translational regulator poly(rC)-binding protein hnRNP E2 and with the mRNA encoding the survival factor PIM1, respectively. The interaction with hnRNP E2 is independent of the microRNAs seed sequence and it leads to release of CEBPA mRNA from hnRNP E2-mediated translational inhibition. Altogether, these data reveal the dual ability of a microRNA to control cell fate both through base pairing with mRNA targets and through a decoy activity that interferes with the function of regulatory proteins.
Acquired resistance through genetic mutations is a common phenomenon in several cancer therapies using molecularly targeted drugs, best exemplified by the BCR-ABL inhibitor imatinib in treating chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Overcoming acquired resistance is a daunting therapeutic challenge, and little is known about how these mutations evolve. To facilitate understanding the resistance mechanisms, we developed a novel culture model for CML acquired resistance in which the CML cell line KCL-22, following initial response to imatinib, develops resistant T315I BCR-ABL mutation. We demonstrate that the emergence of BCR-ABL mutations do not require pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations derived from the original patient as the subclones of KCL-22 cells can form various BCR-ABL mutations upon imatinib treatment. BCR-ABL mutation rates vary from cell clone to clone and passages, in contrast to the relatively stable mutation rate of the hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase gene. Strikingly, development of BCR-ABL mutations depends on its gene expression because BCR-ABL knockdown completely blocks KCL-22 cell relapse on imatinib and acquisition of mutations. We further show that the endogenous BCR-ABL locus has significantly higher mutagenesis potential than the transduced randomly integrated BCR-ABL cDNA. Our study suggests important roles of BCR-ABL gene expression and its native chromosomal locus for acquisition of BCR-ABL mutations and provides a new tool for further studying resistance mechanisms.
Reports of stent thrombosis and death in patients who have received drug-eluting stents (DES) have provoked debate regarding their long-term safety. We investigated the specific causes of death in patients receiving DES at an academic tertiary-care center.
Patients with elevated white blood cell (WBC) counts who undergo percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) are at increased risk for short- and long-term mortality as well as major adverse cardiac events (MACE). We assessed the relationship between elevated WBC counts and clinical events in patients who underwent PCI with drug-eluting stents (DES).
Patients who present with myocardial infarction (MI) and unprotected left main coronary artery (ULMCA) disease represent an extremely high-risk subset of patients. ULMCA percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with drug-eluting stents (DES) in MI patients has not been extensively studied.
This study investigated two approaches, short hairpin RNA (shRNA) and the potent ABL inhibitor, dasatinib, alone and together, to achieve complete inhibition of BCR-ABL activity in Philadelphia-positive (Ph(+)) cells.
Therapy-related myelodysplasia or acute myelogenous leukemia (t-MDS/AML) is a lethal complication of autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (aHCT) for Hodgkins lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL). Here, we investigated the hypothesis that accelerated telomere shortening after aHCT could contribute to the development of t-MDS/AML.
The acyl transfer activity of the amidase of Alcaligenes sp. MTCC 10674 has been applied to the conversion of benzamide and hydroxylamine to benzohydroxamic acid. The unique features of the acyl transfer activity of this organism include its optimal activity at 50 °C and very high substrate (100 mM benzamide) and product (90 mM benzohydroxamic acid) tolerance among the hitherto reported enzymes. The bench scale production of benzohydroxamic acid was carried out in a fed-batch reaction (final volume 1 l) by adding 50 mM benzamide and 250 mM of hydroxylamine after every 20 min for 80 min in 0.1 M potassium phosphate buffer (pH 7.0) at 50 °C, using resting cells equal to 4.0 mg dcm/ml of reaction mixture. From 1 l of reaction mixture 33 g of benzohydroxamic acid was recovered with 24.6 g l(-1) h(-1) productivity. The acyl transfer activity of the amidase of Alcaligenes sp. MTCC 10674 and the process developed in the present study are of industrial significance for the enzyme-mediated production of benzohydroxamic acid.
Sirtuins are NAD-dependent deacetylases that are conserved from yeast to mammals. A new report sheds light on the function of SIRT7, the least understood member of the Sirtuin family by identifying its locus-specific H3K18 deacetylase activity, and linking it to maintenance of cellular transformation in malignancies.
We report a consecutive series of 59 patients with MDS who underwent reduced-intensity hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (RI-HSCT) with fludarabine/melphalan conditioning and tacrolimus/sirolimus-based GVHD prophylaxis. Two-year OS, EFS, and relapse incidences were 75.1%, 65.2%, and 20.9%, respectively. The cumulative incidence of non-relapse mortality at 100 days, 1 year, and 2 years was 3.4%, 8.5%, and 10.5%, respectively. The incidence of grade II-IV acute GVHD was 35.4%; grade III-IV was 18.6%. Forty of 55 evaluable patients developed chronic GVHD; of these 35 were extensive grade. This RI-HSCT protocol produces encouraging outcomes in MDS patients, and tacrolimus/sirolimus-based GVHD prophylaxis may contribute to that promising result.
The mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) consists of protein complexes I, II, III, IV and V that support oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), which depends on electron transport to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Electron "leakage" from the MRC generates reactive oxygen species (ROS). Chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CML-CP) stem cells (LSCs) produce high levels of mitochondrial ROS, causing oxidative DNA damage, resulting in genomic instability, generating imatinib-resistant BCR-ABL1 kinase mutants and additional chromosomal aberrations. Using global mRNA microarray analysis combined with Ingenuity Pathway Analysis we found that LSCs display enhanced expression of genes encoding MRC complexes I, II, IV and V. However, expression of genes encoding complex III was deregulated. Treatment with imatinib did not correct the aberrant levels of MRC genes. Therefore we postulate that abnormal expression of MRC genes may facilitate electron "leakage" to promote the production of ROS and accumulation of genomic instability in LSCs in imatinib-naive and imatinib-treated patients.
Acquisition of self-renewal capability by myeloid progenitors to become leukemic stem cells during myeloid leukemia development is poorly understood. Here, we show that Setbp1 overexpression efficiently confers self-renewal capability to myeloid progenitors in vitro, causing their immortalization in the presence of stem cell factor and IL-3. Self-renewal after immortalization requires continuous Setbp1 expression. We also found that Hoxa9 and Hoxa10 mRNA are present at dramatically higher levels in Setbp1-immortalized cells compared with other immortalized cells, and are induced shortly after Setbp1 expression in primary myeloid progenitors. Suppression of either gene in Setbp1-immortalized cells drastically reduces their colony-forming capability. Interestingly, Setbp1 protein associates with Hoxa9 and Hoxa10 promoters in chromatin immunoprecipitation assays in these cells, suggesting that both are direct transcriptional targets of Setbp1. Setbp1 also promotes self-renewal of myeloid progenitors in vivo as its coexpression with BCR/ABL transforms primary mouse myeloid progenitors, generating aggressive leukemias in recipient mice resembling chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) myeloid blast crisis. Increased SETBP1 mRNA levels were also detected in a subset of CML advanced phase/blast crisis patients with high levels of HOXA9 and HOXA10 expression. Thus, Setbp1 activation represents a novel mechanism conferring self-renewal capability to myeloid progenitors in myeloid leukemia development.
We characterized leukemia stem cells (LSC) in chronic phase chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) using a transgenic mouse model. LSC were restricted to cells with long-term hematopoietic stem cell (LTHSC) phenotype. CML LTHSC demonstrated reduced homing and retention in the bone marrow (BM), related to decreased CXCL12 expression in CML BM, resulting from increased G-CSF production by leukemia cells. Altered cytokine expression in CML BM was associated with selective impairment of normal LTHSC growth and a growth advantage to CML LTHSC. Imatinib (IM) treatment partially corrected abnormalities in cytokine levels and LTHSC growth. These results were validated using human CML samples and provide improved understanding of microenvironmental regulation of normal and leukemic LTHSC and their response to IM in CML.
We examined the effect of deferasirox (DFX) on CD34+ hematopoietic progenitors from MDS patients. Progressive, dose-dependent suppression of MDS progenitor proliferation in culture was observed with DFX concentrations ranging from 5 ?M to 20 ?M. This effect was more pronounced in MDS compared to CD34+ progenitors isolated from umbilical cord blood or normal peripheral blood. There was reduced viability of MDS progenitors but not normal progenitors at 20 ?M DFX which increased with duration of exposure. Exposure to 20 ?M DFX for 14 days markedly suppressed colony growth of MDS progenitors. Reactive oxygen species levels were elevated above control at concentrations of DFX above 5 ?M. We conclude that exposure to DFX results in dose-dependent inhibition of proliferation, and survival in MDS progenitors.
Chromosomal aberrations are an important consequence of genotoxic exposure and contribute to pathogenesis and progression of several malignancies. We investigated the susceptibility to chromosomal aberrations in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) progenitors after exposure to ionizing radiation. In normal progenitors, ionizing radiation induced both stable and unstable chromosomal lesions, but only stable aberrations persisted after multiple divisions. In contrast, radiation of chronic phase CML progenitors resulted in enhanced generation of unstable lesions that persisted after multiple divisions. CML progenitors demonstrated active cell cycle checkpoints and increased nonhomologous end joining DNA repair, suggesting that persistence of unstable aberrations was the result of continued generation of these lesions. CML progenitors demonstrated enhanced susceptibility to repeated cycles of chromosome damage, repair, and damage through a breakage-fusion-bridge mechanism. Perpetuation of breakage-fusion-bridge cycles in CML progenitors was mediated by classic nonhomologous end joining repair. These studies reveal a previously unrecognized mechanism of chromosomal instability in leukemia progenitors because of continued generation of unstable chromosomal lesions through repeated cycles of breakage and repair of such lesions.
Indirubin is the major active anti-tumor component of a traditional Chinese herbal medicine used for treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). While previous studies indicate that indirubin is a promising therapeutic agent for CML, the molecular mechanism of action of indirubin is not fully understood. We report here that indirubin derivatives (IRDs) potently inhibit Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 5 (Stat5) protein in CML cells. Compound E804, which is the most potent in this series of IRDs, blocked Stat5 signaling in human K562 CML cells, imatinib-resistant human KCL-22 CML cells expressing the T315I mutant Bcr-Abl (KCL-22M), and CD34-positive primary CML cells from patients. Autophosphorylation of Src family kinases (SFKs) was strongly inhibited in K562 and KCL-22M cells at 5 ?M E804, and in primary CML cells at 10 ?M E804, although higher concentrations partially inhibited autophosphorylation of Bcr-Abl. Previous studies indicate that SFKs cooperate with Bcr-Abl to activate downstream Stat5 signaling. Activation of Stat5 was strongly blocked by E804 in CML cells. E804 down-regulated expression of Stat5 target proteins Bcl-x(L) and Mcl-1, associated with induction of apoptosis. In sum, our findings identify IRDs as potent inhibitors of the SFK/Stat5 signaling pathway downstream of Bcr-Abl, leading to apoptosis of K562, KCL-22M and primary CML cells. IRDs represent a promising structural class for development of new therapeutics for wild type or T315I mutant Bcr-Abl-positive CML patients.
BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) fail to eliminate quiescent leukemia stem cells (LSC) in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Thus, strategies targeting LSC are required to achieve cure. We show that the NAD(+)-dependent deacetylase SIRT1 is overexpressed in human CML LSC. Pharmacological inhibition of SIRT1 or SIRT1 knockdown increased apoptosis in LSC of chronic phase and blast crisis CML and reduced their growth in vitro and in vivo. SIRT1 effects were enhanced in combination with the BCR-ABL TKI imatinib. SIRT1 inhibition increased p53 acetylation and transcriptional activity in CML progenitors, and the inhibitory effects of SIRT1 targeting on CML cells depended on p53 expression and acetylation. Activation of p53 via SIRT1 inhibition represents a potential approach to target CML LSC.
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