The DOT1L lysine methyltransferase has emerged as a validated therapeutic target in MLL-rearranged (MLLr) acute leukemias. Although S-adenosylmethionine competitive inhibitors have demonstrated pharmacological proof-of-principle in MLLr-leukemia, these compounds require further optimization to improve cellular potency and pharmacokinetic stability. Limiting DOT1L inhibitor discovery and ligand optimization have been complex biochemical methods often using radionucleotides and cellular methods requiring prolonged culture. We therefore developed a new suite of assay technologies that allows comparative assessment of chemical tools for DOT1L in a miniaturized format. Coupling these assays with structural information, we developed new insights into DOT1L ligand binding and identified several functionalized probes with increased cellular potency (IC50 values ~10nM) and excellent selectivity for DOT1L. Together these assay technologies define a platform capability for discovery and optimization of small-molecule DOT1L inhibitors.
One-year survival rates for newly diagnosed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are <50%, and unresectable HCC carries a dismal prognosis owing to its aggressiveness and the undruggable nature of its main genetic drivers. By screening a custom library of shRNAs directed toward known drug targets in a genetically defined Myc-driven HCC model, we identified cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (Cdk9) as required for disease maintenance. Pharmacological or shRNA-mediated CDK9 inhibition led to robust anti-tumor effects that correlated with MYC expression levels and depended on the role that both CDK9 and MYC exert in transcription elongation. Our results establish CDK9 inhibition as a therapeutic strategy for MYC-overexpressing liver tumors and highlight the relevance of transcription elongation in the addiction of cancer cells to MYC.
Perivascular mesenchymal stem and progenitor cells (MSPCs) are critical for forming a healthy hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche. However, the interactions and influence of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) stem cells with the microenvironment remain largely unexplored. We have unexpectedly found that neuropathy of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) promotes leukemic bone marrow infiltration in an MLL-AF9 AML model. Development of AML disrupts SNS nerves and the quiescence of Nestin(+) niche cells, leading to an expansion of phenotypic MSPCs primed for osteoblastic differentiation at the expense of HSC-maintaining NG2(+) periarteriolar niche cells. Adrenergic signaling promoting leukemogenesis is transduced by the ?2, but not ?3, adrenergic receptor expressed on stromal cells of leukemic bone marrow. These results indicate that sympathetic neuropathy may represent a mechanism for the malignancy in order to co-opt the microenvironment and suggest separate mesenchymal niche activities for malignant and healthy hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow.
Self-renewal is the hallmark feature both of normal stem cells and cancer stem cells. Since the regenerative capacity of normal haematopoietic stem cells is limited by the accumulation of reactive oxygen species and DNA double-strand breaks, we speculated that DNA damage might also constrain leukaemic self-renewal and malignant haematopoiesis. Here we show that the histone methyl-transferase MLL4, a suppressor of B-cell lymphoma, is required for stem-cell activity and an aggressive form of acute myeloid leukaemia harbouring the MLL-AF9 oncogene. Deletion of MLL4 enhances myelopoiesis and myeloid differentiation of leukaemic blasts, which protects mice from death related to acute myeloid leukaemia. MLL4 exerts its function by regulating transcriptional programs associated with the antioxidant response. Addition of reactive oxygen species scavengers or ectopic expression of FOXO3 protects MLL4(-/-) MLL-AF9 cells from DNA damage and inhibits myeloid maturation. Similar to MLL4 deficiency, loss of ATM or BRCA1 sensitizes transformed cells to differentiation, suggesting that myeloid differentiation is promoted by loss of genome integrity. Indeed, we show that restriction-enzyme-induced double-strand breaks are sufficient to induce differentiation of MLL-AF9 blasts, which requires cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21(Cip1) (Cdkn1a) activity. In summary, we have uncovered an unexpected tumour-promoting role of genome guardians in enforcing the oncogene-induced differentiation blockade in acute myeloid leukaemia.
Chromosomal rearrangements involving the H3K4 methyltransferase mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) trigger aberrant gene expression in hematopoietic progenitors and give rise to an aggressive subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Insights into MLL fusion-mediated leukemogenesis have not yet translated into better therapies because MLL is difficult to target directly, and the identity of the genes downstream of MLL whose altered transcription mediates leukemic transformation are poorly annotated. We used a functional genetic approach to uncover that AML cells driven by MLL-AF9 are exceptionally reliant on the cell-cycle regulator CDK6, but not its functional homolog CDK4, and that the preferential growth inhibition induced by CDK6 depletion is mediated through enhanced myeloid differentiation. CDK6 essentiality is also evident in AML cells harboring alternate MLL fusions and a mouse model of MLL-AF9-driven leukemia and can be ascribed to transcriptional activation of CDK6 by mutant MLL. Importantly, the context-dependent effects of lowering CDK6 expression are closely phenocopied by a small-molecule CDK6 inhibitor currently in clinical development. These data identify CDK6 as critical effector of MLL fusions in leukemogenesis that might be targeted to overcome the differentiation block associated with MLL-rearranged AML, and underscore that cell-cycle regulators may have distinct, noncanonical, and nonredundant functions in different contexts.
The orchestration of transcriptional programs depends on proper gene-enhancer pairing. While much remains to be learned about this process in normal development, two recent studies in Cell (Gröschel and colleagues) and this issue of Cancer Cell (Yamazaki and colleagues) highlight how the genomic rearrangement of an enhancer plays a causal role in the onset of a leukemogenic program.
Biotypes of aphids and many other insect pests are defined based on the phenotypic response of host plants to the insect pest without considering their intrinsic characteristics and genotypes. Plant breeders have spent considerable effort developing aphid-resistant, small-grain varieties to limit insecticide control of the greenbug, Schizaphis graminum. However, new S. graminum biotypes frequently emerge that break resistance. Mechanisms of virulence on the aphid side of the plant-insect interaction are not well understood. S. graminum biotype H is highly virulent on most small grain varieties. This characteristic makes biotype H ideal for comparative proteomics to investigate the basis of biotype virulence in aphids. In this study, we used comparative proteomics to identify protein expression differences associated with virulence. Aphid proteins involved in the tricarboxylic acid cycle, immune system, cell division, and antiapoptosis pathways were found to be up-regulated in biotype H relative to other biotypes. Proteins from the bacterial endosymbiont of aphids were also differentially expressed in biotype H. Guided by the proteome results, we tested whether biotype H had a fitness advantage compared with other S. graminum biotypes and found that biotype H had a higher reproductive fitness as compared with two other biotypes on a range of different wheat germplasms. Finally, we tested whether aphid genetics can be used to further dissect the genetic mechanisms of biotype virulence in aphids. The genetic data showed that sexual reproduction is a source of biotypic variation observed in S. graminum.
Human gene expression patterns are controlled and coordinated by the activity of a diverse array of epigenetic regulators, including histone methyltransferases, acetyltransferases, and chromatin remodelers. Deregulation of these epigenetic pathways can lead to genome-wide changes in gene expression, with serious disease consequences. In recent years, research has suggested that cross talk between genomic (i.e., for example, mutations, translocations) and epigenomic factors may drive the etiology of both hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. Current work in translational research seeks to identify epigenetic regulators whose aberrant activity contributes to oncogenesis, including the histone methyltransferases DOT1L and EZH2 and the bromodomain-containing BET family, and to develop drugs that inhibit the aberrant activity of these regulators. Preclinical and clinical studies using small-molecule inhibitors of epigenetic regulators have underscored their value for therapeutic intervention, and these inhibitors can also be used to drive further studies into dissecting the functions of epigenetic factors in normal and cancer cells.
Relapsed paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) has high rates of treatment failure. Epigenetic regulators have been proposed as modulators of chemoresistance, here, we sequence genes encoding epigenetic regulators in matched diagnosis-remission-relapse ALL samples. We find significant enrichment of mutations in epigenetic regulators at relapse with recurrent somatic mutations in SETD2, CREBBP, MSH6, KDM6A and MLL2, mutations in signalling factors are not enriched. Somatic alterations in SETD2, including frameshift and nonsense mutations, are present at 12% in a large de novo ALL patient cohort. We conclude that the enrichment of mutations in epigenetic regulators at relapse is consistent with a role in mediating therapy resistance.
Verde plant bugs, Creontiades signatus Distant (Hemiptera: Miridae), were released onto caged cotton, Cossypium hirsutum L., for a 1-wk period to characterize the effects of insect density and bloom period of infestation on cotton injury and yield in 2011 and 2012, Corpus Christi, TX. When plants were infested during early bloom (10-11 nodes above first white flower), a linear decline in fruit retention and boll load and a linear increase in boll injury were detected as verde plant bug infestation levels increased from an average of 0.5 to 4 bugs per plant. Lint and seed yield per plant showed a corresponding decline. Fruit retention, boll load, and yield were not affected on plants infested 1 wk later at peak bloom (8-9 nodes above first white flower), even though boll injury increased as infestation levels increased. Second-year testing verified boll injury but not yield loss, when infestations occurred at peak bloom. Incidence of cotton boll rot, known to be associated with verde plant bug feeding, was low to modest (< 1%  to 12%  of bolls with disease symptoms), and drought stress persisted throughout the study. Caging effect was minimal: a 10% fruit retention decline was associated with caging, and the effect was not detectable in the other measurements. Overall, reduced fruit retention and boll load caused by verde plant bug were important contributors to yield decline, damage potential was greatest during the early bloom period of infestation, and a simple linear response best described the yield response-insect density relationship at early bloom. Confirmation that cotton after peak bloom was less prone to verde plant bug injury and an early bloom-specific economic injury level were key findings that can improve integrated pest management decision-making for dryland cotton, at least under low-rainfall growing conditions.
Xenon, the inert anesthetic gas, is neuroprotective in models of brain injury. The authors investigate the neuroprotective mechanisms of the inert gases such as xenon, argon, krypton, neon, and helium in an in vitro model of traumatic brain injury.
The ability to monitor verde plant bug, Creontiades signatus Distant (Hemiptera: Miridae), and the progression of cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., boll responses to feeding and associated cotton boll rot provided opportunity to assess if single in-season measurements had value in evaluating at-harvest damage to bolls and if multiple in-season measurements enhanced their combined use. One in-season verde plant bug density measurement, three in-season plant injury measurements, and two at-harvest damage measurements were taken in 15 cotton fields in South Texas, 2010. Linear regression selected two measurements as potentially useful indicators of at-harvest damage: verde plant bug density (adjusted r2 = 0.68; P = 0.0004) and internal boll injury of the carpel wall (adjusted r2 = 0.72; P = 0.004). Considering use of multiple measurements, a stepwise multiple regression of the four in-season measurements selected a univariate model (verde plant bug density) using a 0.15 selection criterion (adjusted r2 = 0.74; P = 0.0002) and a bivariate model (verde plant bug density-internal boll injury) using a 0.25 selection criterion (adjusted r2 = 0.76; P = 0.0007) as indicators of at-harvest damage. In a validation using cultivar and water regime treatments experiencing low verde plant bug pressure in 2011 and 2012, the bivariate model performed better than models using verde plant bug density or internal boll injury separately. Overall, verde plant bug damaging cotton bolls exemplified the benefits of using multiple in-season measurements in pest monitoring programs, under the challenging situation when at-harvest damage results from a sequence of plant responses initiated by in-season insect feeding.
The importance of epigenetic gene regulatory mechanisms in normal and cancer development is increasingly evident. Genome-wide analyses have revealed the mutation, deletion, and dysregulated expression of chromatin-modifying enzymes in a number of cancers, including hematologic malignancies. Genome-wide studies of DNA methylation and histone modifications are beginning to reveal the landscape of cancer-specific chromatin patterns. In parallel, recent genetic loss-of-function studies in murine models are demonstrating functional involvement of chromatin-modifying enzymes in malignant cell proliferation and self-renewal. Paradoxically, the same chromatin modifiers can, depending on cancer type, be either hyperactive or inactivated. Increasingly, cross talk between epigenetic pathways is being identified. Leukemias carrying MLL rearrangements are quintessential cancers driven by dysregulated epigenetic mechanisms in which fusion proteins containing N-terminal sequences of MLL require few or perhaps no additional mutations to cause human leukemia. Here, we review how recent progress in the field of epigenetics opens potential mechanism-based therapeutic avenues.
Interferon-? (IFN?) is an effective treatment of patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). In addition to inducing hematological responses in most MPN patients, IFN? reduces the JAK2V617F allelic burden and can render the JAK2V617F mutant clone undetectable in some patients. The precise mechanism underlying these responses is incompletely understood and whether the molecular responses that are seen occur due to the effects of IFN? on JAK2V617F mutant stem cells is debated. Using a murine model of Jak2V617F MPN, we investigated the effects of IFN? on Jak2V617F MPN-propagating stem cells in vivo. We report that IFN? treatment induces hematological responses in the model and causes depletion of Jak2V617F MPN-propagating cells over time, impairing disease transplantation. We demonstrate that IFN? treatment induces cell cycle activation of Jak2V617F mutant long-term hematopoietic stem cells and promotes a predetermined erythroid-lineage differentiation program. These findings provide insights into the differential effects of IFN? on Jak2V617F mutant and normal hematopoiesis and suggest that IFN? achieves molecular remissions in MPN patients through its effects on MPN stem cells. Furthermore, these results support combinatorial therapeutic approaches in MPN by concurrently depleting dormant JAK2V617F MPN-propagating stem cells with IFN? and targeting the proliferating downstream progeny with JAK2 inhibitors or cytotoxic chemotherapy.
The verde plant bug, Creontiades signatus (Distant), has been present in south Texas for several years but has more recently been documented as an economic threat to cultivated cotton, (Gossypium hirsutum L. Our studies over 2 yr (2009 and 2010) and two locations (Weslaco and Corpus Christi, TX) investigated feeding-injury of the verde plant bug to a range of cotton boll age classes defined by boll diameter and accumulated degree-days (anthesis to the time of infesting) for first-position cotton bolls infested with the plant bugs. The most detrimental damage to younger cotton holls from verde plant bug feeding was boll abscission. Cotton bolls <04 accumulating daily degree-days (ACDD), or a boll diameter of 1.3 cm were subject to 60-70% higher boll abscission when compared with the noninfested controls. Significantly higher boll abscission occurred from verde plant bug injured bolls compared with the controls up to 162 ACDD or a mean boll diameter 2.0 cm. Cotton seed weights were significantly reduced up to 179 ACDD or a boll diameter of 2.0 cm at Weslaco in 2009, and up to 317 ACDD or boll diameter 2.6 cm for Weslaco in 2010 when compared with the noninfested controls. Lint weight per cotton boll for infested and noninfested bolls was significantly reduced up to 262 ACDD or boll diameter 2.5 for Corpus Christi in 2010 and up to 288 ACCD or boll diameter 2.6 cm for Weslaco, TX, in 2010. Damage ratings (dependant variable) regressed against infested and noninfested seed-cotton weights showed that in every instance, the infested cotton bolls had a strong and significant relationship with damage ratings for all age classes of bolls. Damage ratings for the infested cotton bolls that did not abscise by harvest showed visual signs of verde plant bug feeding injury and the subsequent development ofboll rot; however, these two forms of injury causing lint and seed mass loss are hard to differentiate from open or boll-locked cotton bolls. Based on the results of both lint and seed loss over 2 yr and four studies cotton bolls should be protected up to approximately 300 ACDD or a boll diameter of 2.5 cm. This equilibrates to bolls that are 12-14 d of age dependent upon daily maximum and minimum temperatures.
The discovery of a series of 5-HT4 receptor agonists based on a novel 2-alkylbenzimidazole aromatic core is described. Optimization of the 2-substituent of the benzimidazole ring led to a series of agonists with subnanomolar binding affinity and moderate-to-high intrinsic activity relative to that of 5-HT. Consistent with our previously described multivalent design approach to this target, subsequent optimization of the linker and secondary binding group regions of the series afforded compound 18 (TD-8954), a potent and selective 5-HT4 receptor agonist in vitro with demonstrated prokinetic activity in multiple species.
We used an in vivo small hairpin RNA (shRNA) screening approach to identify genes that are essential for MLL-AF9 acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We found that Integrin Beta 3 (Itgb3) is essential for murine leukemia cells in vivo and for human leukemia cells in xenotransplantation studies. In leukemia cells, Itgb3 knockdown impaired homing, downregulated LSC transcriptional programs, and induced differentiation via the intracellular kinase Syk. In contrast, loss of Itgb3 in normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells did not affect engraftment, reconstitution, or differentiation. Finally, using an Itgb3 knockout mouse model, we confirmed that Itgb3 is dispensable for normal hematopoiesis but is required for leukemogenesis. Our results establish the significance of the Itgb3 signaling pathway as a potential therapeutic target in AML.
Methylation of H3K79 is associated with chromatin at expressed genes, though it is unclear if this histone modification is required for transcription of all genes. Recent studies suggest that Wnt-responsive genes depend particularly on H3K79 methylation, which is catalyzed by the methyltransferase DOT1L. Human leukemias carrying MLL gene rearrangements show DOT1L-mediated H3K79 methylation and aberrant expression of leukemogenic genes. DOT1L inhibitors reverse these effects, but their clinical use is potentially limited by toxicity in Wnt-dependent tissues such as intestinal epithelium. Genome-wide positioning of the H3K79me2 mark in Lgr5(+) mouse intestinal stem cells and mature intestinal villus epithelium correlated with expression levels of all transcripts and not with Wnt-responsive genes per se. Selective Dot1l disruption in Lgr5(+) stem cells or in whole intestinal epithelium eliminated H3K79me2 from the respective compartments, allowing genetic evaluation of DOT1L requirements. The absence of methylated H3K79 did not impair health, intestinal homeostasis, or expression of Wnt target genes in crypt epithelium for up to 4 months, despite increased crypt cell apoptosis. Global transcript profiles in Dot1l-null cells were barely altered. Thus, H3K79 methylation is not essential for transcription of Wnt-responsive or other intestinal genes, and intestinal toxicity is not imperative when DOT1L is rendered inactive in vivo.
The t(6;11)(q27;q23) is a recurrent chromosomal rearrangement that encodes the MLLAF6 fusion oncoprotein and is observed in patients with diverse hematologic malignancies. The presence of the t(6;11)(q27;q23) has been linked to poor overall survival in patients with AML. In this study, we demonstrate that MLL-AF6 requires continued activity of the histone-methyltransferase DOT1L to maintain expression of the MLL-AF6-driven oncogenic gene-expression program. Using gene-expression analysis and genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation studies followed by next generation sequencing, we found that MLL-fusion target genes display markedly high levels of histone 3 at lysine 79 (H3K79) dimethylation in murine MLL-AF6 leukemias as well as in ML2, a human myelomonocytic leukemia cell line bearing the t(6;11)(q27;q23) translocation. Targeted disruption of Dot1l using a conditional knockout mouse model inhibited leukemogenesis mediated by the MLL-AF6 fusion oncogene. Moreover, both murine MLL-AF6-transformed cells as well as the human MLL-AF6-positive ML2 leukemia cell line displayed specific sensitivity to EPZ0004777, a recently described, selective, small-molecule inhibitor of Dot1l. Dot1l inhibition resulted in significantly decreased proliferation, decreased expression of MLL-AF6 target genes, and cell cycle arrest of MLL-AF6-transformed cells. These results indicate that patients bearing the t(6;11)(q27;q23) translocation may benefit from therapeutic agents targeting aberrant H3K79 methylation.
Notch signaling pathway activation is known to contribute to the pathogenesis of a spectrum of human malignancies, including T cell leukemia. However, recent studies have implicated the Notch pathway as a tumor suppressor in myeloproliferative neoplasms and several solid tumors. Here we report a novel tumor suppressor role for Notch signaling in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and demonstrate that Notch pathway activation could represent a therapeutic strategy in this disease. We show that Notch signaling is silenced in human AML samples, as well as in AML-initiating cells in an animal model of the disease. In vivo activation of Notch signaling using genetic Notch gain of function models or in vitro using synthetic Notch ligand induces rapid cell cycle arrest, differentiation, and apoptosis of AML-initiating cells. Moreover, we demonstrate that Notch inactivation cooperates in vivo with loss of the myeloid tumor suppressor Tet2 to induce AML-like disease. These data demonstrate a novel tumor suppressor role for Notch signaling in AML and elucidate the potential therapeutic use of Notch receptor agonists in the treatment of this devastating leukemia.
A unique characteristic of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is the ability to self-renew. Several genes and signaling pathways control the fine balance between self-renewal and differentiation in HSCs and potentially also in leukemia stem cells. Recently, studies have shed light on developmental molecules and evolutionarily conserved signals as regulators of stem cells in hematopoiesis and leukemia. In this study, we provide evidence that the cell fate determinant Llgl1 (lethal giant larvae homolog 1) plays an important role in regulation of HSCs. Loss of Llgl1 leads to an increase in HSC numbers that show increased repopulation capacity and competitive advantage after transplantation. This advantage increases upon serial transplantation or when stress is applied to HSCs. Llgl1(-/-) HSCs show increased cycling but neither exhaust nor induce leukemia in recipient mice. Llgl1 inactivation is associated with transcriptional repression of transcription factors such as KLF4 (Krüppel-like factor 4) and EGR1 (early-growth-response 1) that are known inhibitors of HSC self-renewal. Decreased Llgl1 expression in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells is associated with inferior patient survival. Thus, inactivation of Llgl1 enhances HSC self-renewal and fitness and is associated with unfavorable outcome in human AML.
New strategies to combat complex human disease require systems approaches to biology that integrate experiments from cell lines, primary tissues and model organisms. We have developed Pathprint, a functional approach that compares gene expression profiles in a set of pathways, networks and transcriptionally regulated targets. It can be applied universally to gene expression profiles across species. Integration of large-scale profiling methods and curation of the public repository overcomes platform, species and batch effects to yield a standard measure of functional distance between experiments. We show that pathprints combine mouse and human blood developmental lineage, and can be used to identify new prognostic indicators in acute myeloid leukemia. The code and resources are available at http://compbio.sph.harvard.edu/hidelab/pathprint.
Rearrangements of the Mixed-Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene are found in > 70% of infant leukemia, ~ 10% of adult acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), and many cases of secondary acute leukemias. The presence of an MLL rearrangement generally confers a poor prognosis. There are more than 60 known fusion partners of MLL having some correlation with disease phenotype and prognosis. The most common fusion proteins induce the inappropriate expression of homeotic (Hox) genes, which, during normal hematopoiesis, are maintained by wild-type MLL. MLL-rearranged leukemias display remarkable genomic stability, with very few gains or losses of chromosomal regions. This may be explained by recent studies suggesting that MLL-rearranged leukemias are largely driven by epigenetic dysregulation. Several epigenetic regulators that modify DNA or histones have been implicated in MLL-fusion driven leukemogenesis, including DNA methylation, histone acetylation, and histone methylation. The histone methyltransferase DOT1L has emerged as an important mediator of MLL-fusion-mediated leukemic transformation. The clinical development of targeted inhibitors of these epigenetic regulators may therefore hold promise for the treatment of MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Mounting evidence suggests that malignant tumors are initiated and maintained by a subpopulation of cancerous cells with biological properties similar to those of normal stem cells. However, descriptions of stem-like gene and pathway signatures in cancers are inconsistent across experimental systems. Driven by a need to improve our understanding of molecular processes that are common and unique across cancer stem cells (CSCs), we have developed the Stem Cell Discovery Engine (SCDE)-an online database of curated CSC experiments coupled to the Galaxy analytical framework. The SCDE allows users to consistently describe, share and compare CSC data at the gene and pathway level. Our initial focus has been on carefully curating tissue and cancer stem cell-related experiments from blood, intestine and brain to create a high quality resource containing 53 public studies and 1098 assays. The experimental information is captured and stored in the multi-omics Investigation/Study/Assay (ISA-Tab) format and can be queried in the data repository. A linked Galaxy framework provides a comprehensive, flexible environment populated with novel tools for gene list comparisons against molecular signatures in GeneSigDB and MSigDB, curated experiments in the SCDE and pathways in WikiPathways. The SCDE is available at http://discovery.hsci.harvard.edu.
Genome-wide experiments are routinely conducted to measure gene expression, DNA-protein interactions and epigenetic status. Structured metadata for these experiments is imperative for a complete understanding of experimental conditions, to enable consistent data processing and to allow retrieval, comparison, and integration of experimental results. Even though several repositories have been developed for genomics data, only a few provide annotation of samples and assays using controlled vocabularies. Moreover, many of them are tailored for a single type of technology or measurement and do not support the integration of multiple data types.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) engage in complex bidirectional signals with the hematopoietic microenvironment (HM), and there is emerging evidence that leukemia stem cells (LSCs) may use similar interactions. Using a syngeneic retroviral model of MLL-AF9 induced acute myeloid leukemia (AML), we have identified 2 different stages of leukemia progression, propagated by "pre-LSCs" and established leukemia (LSCs) and compared the homing properties of these distinctive entities to that of normal HSCs. The homing and microlocalization of pre-LSCs was most similar to long-term HSCs and was dependent on cell-intrinsic Wnt signaling. In contrast, the homing of established LSCs was most similar to that of committed myeloid progenitors and distinct from HSCs. Although osteoblast-derived Dickkopf-1, a potent Wnt inhibitor known to impair HSC function, dramatically impaired normal HSC localization within the bone marrow, it did not affect pre-LSCs, LSC homing, or AML development. Mechanistically, cell-intrinsic Wnt activation was observed in human and murine AML samples, explaining the independence of MLL-AF9 LSCs from niche-derived Wnt signals. These data identify differential engagement of HM associated with leukemic progression and identify an LSC niche that is physically distinct and independent of the constraints of Wnt signaling that apply to normal HSCs.
A key characteristic of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) is the ability to self-renew. Several genes and signaling pathways control the fine balance between self-renewal and differentiation in HSC and potentially also in leukemic stem cells. Besides pathways such as Wnt signaling, Hedgehog signaling and Notch signaling, transcription factors (FoxOs) and cell fate determinants may also play a role in stem cells. While some of these pathways seem to be dispensable for maintenance of adult HSC, there may be a distinct requirement in leukemia stem cells for leukemic self-renewal. Here we will focus on self-renewal related signaling in myeloid leukemia stem cells and its therapeutic relevance.
Mislocated enzymatic activity of DOT1L has been proposed as a driver of leukemogenesis in mixed lineage leukemia (MLL). The characterization of EPZ004777, a potent, selective inhibitor of DOT1L is reported. Treatment of MLL cells with the compound selectively inhibits H3K79 methylation and blocks expression of leukemogenic genes. Exposure of leukemic cells to EPZ004777 results in selective killing of those cells bearing the MLL gene translocation, with little effect on non-MLL-translocated cells. Finally, in vivo administration of EPZ004777 leads to extension of survival in a mouse MLL xenograft model. These results provide compelling support for DOT1L inhibition as a basis for targeted therapeutics against MLL.
CREB-binding protein (CREBBP) is important for the cell-autonomous regulation of hematopoiesis, including the stem cell compartment. In the present study, we show that CREBBP plays an equally pivotal role in microenvironment-mediated regulation of hematopoiesis. We found that the BM microenvironment of Crebbp(+/-) mice was unable to properly maintain the immature stem cell and progenitor cell pools. Instead, it stimulates myeloid differentiation, which progresses into a myeloproliferation phenotype. Alterations in the BM microenvironment resulting from haploinsufficiency of Crebbp included a marked decrease in trabecular bone that was predominantly caused by increased osteoclastogenesis. Although CFU-fibroblast (CFU-F) and total osteoblast numbers were decreased, the bone formation rate was similar to that found in wild-type mice. At the molecular level, we found that the known hematopoietic modulators matrix metallopeptidase-9 (MMP9) and kit ligand (KITL) were decreased with heterozygous levels of Crebbp. Lastly, potentially important regulatory proteins, endothelial cell adhesion molecule 1 (ESAM1) and cadherin 5 (CDH5), were increased on Crebbp(+/-) endothelial cells. Our findings reveal that a full dose of Crebbp is essential in the BM microenvironment to maintain proper hematopoiesis and to prevent excessive myeloproliferation.
The histone 3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase Dot1l has been implicated in the development of leukemias bearing translocations of the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene. We identified the MLL-fusion targets in an MLL-AF9 leukemia model, and conducted epigenetic profiling for H3K79me2, H3K4me3, H3K27me3, and H3K36me3 in hematopoietic progenitor and leukemia stem cells (LSCs). We found abnormal profiles only for H3K79me2 on MLL-AF9 fusion target loci in LSCs. Inactivation of Dot1l led to downregulation of direct MLL-AF9 targets and an MLL translocation-associated gene expression signature, whereas global gene expression remained largely unaffected. Suppression of MLL translocation-associated gene expression corresponded with dependence of MLL-AF9 leukemia on Dot1l in vivo. These data point to DOT1L as a potential therapeutic target in MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Fusion oncogenes in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) promote self-renewal from committed progenitors, thereby linking transformation and self-renewal pathways. Like most cancers, AML is a genetically and biologically heterogeneous disease, but it is unclear whether transformation results from common or overlapping genetic programs acting downstream of multiple mutations or by the engagement of unique genetic programs acting cooperatively downstream of individual mutations. This distinction is important, because the involvement of common programs would imply the existence of common molecular targets to treat AML, no matter which oncogenes are involved. Here we show that the ability to promote self-renewal is a generalized property of leukemia-associated oncogenes. Disparate oncogenes initiated overlapping transformation and self-renewal gene expression programs, the common elements of which were defined in established leukemic stem cells from an animal model as well as from a large cohort of patients with differing AML subtypes, where they strongly predicted pathobiological character. Notably, individual genes commonly activated in these programs could partially phenocopy the self-renewal function of leukemia-associated oncogenes in committed murine progenitors. Furthermore, they could generate AML following expression in murine bone marrow. In summary, our findings reveal the operation of common programs of self-renewal and transformation downstream of leukemia-associated oncogenes, suggesting that mechanistically common therapeutic approaches to AML are likely to be possible, regardless of the identity of the driver oncogene involved.
This study evaluated the in vitro and in vivo pharmacological properties of TD-8954, a potent and selective 5-HT(4) receptor agonist. TD-8954 had high affinity (pK(i)?=?9.4) for human recombinant 5-HT(4(c)) (h5-HT(4(c))) receptors, and selectivity (>2,000-fold) over all other 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) receptors and non-5-HT receptors, ion channels, enzymes and transporters tested (n?=?78). TD-8954 produced an elevation of cAMP in HEK-293 cells expressing the h5-HT(4(c)) receptor (pEC(50)?=?9.3), and contracted the guinea pig colonic longitudinal muscle/myenteric plexus preparation (pEC(50)?=?8.6). TD-8954 had moderate intrinsic activity in the in vitro assays. In conscious guinea pigs, subcutaneous administration of TD-8954 (0.03-3?mg/kg) increased the colonic transit of carmine red dye, reducing the time taken for its excretion. Following intraduodenal dosing to anesthetized rats, TD-8954 (0.03-10?mg/kg) evoked a dose-dependent relaxation of the esophagus. Following oral administration to conscious dogs, TD-8954 (10 and 30??g/kg) produced an increase in contractility of the antrum, duodenum, and jejunum. In a single ascending oral dose study in healthy human subjects, TD-8954 (0.1-20?mg) increased bowel movement frequency and reduced the time to first stool. It is concluded that TD-8954 is a potent and selective 5-HT(4) receptor agonist in vitro, with robust in vivo stimulatory activity in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of guinea pigs, rats, dogs, and humans. TD-8954 may have clinical utility in patients with disorders of reduced GI motility.
AKT activation is associated with many malignancies, where AKT acts, in part, by inhibiting FOXO tumor suppressors. We show a converse role for AKT/FOXOs in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Rather than decreased FOXO activity, we observed that FOXOs are active in ?40% of AML patient samples regardless of genetic subtype. We also observe this activity in human MLL-AF9 leukemia allele-induced AML in mice, where either activation of Akt or compound deletion of FoxO1/3/4 reduced leukemic cell growth, with the latter markedly diminishing leukemia-initiating cell (LIC) function in vivo and improving animal survival. FOXO inhibition resulted in myeloid maturation and subsequent AML cell death. FOXO activation inversely correlated with JNK/c-JUN signaling, and leukemic cells resistant to FOXO inhibition responded to JNK inhibition. These data reveal a molecular role for AKT/FOXO and JNK/c-JUN in maintaining a differentiation blockade that can be targeted to inhibit leukemias with a range of genetic lesions.
Dual inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and neprilysin (NEP) by drugs such as omapatrilat produces superior antihypertensive efficacy but cause high incidence of angioedema. We examined whether dual inhibition of angiotensin AT1 receptor (ARB) and NEP (ARB-NEPI, valsartan-candoxatril) provides similar efficacy to omapatrilat without the risk of angioedema. Activity of test compounds at the targets was assayed using fluorescence-based enzyme assays (ACE, NEP, aminopeptidase P) or competition binding assays (AT1). Target engagement in vivo (ACE, AT1, and NEP) was quantified by measuring inhibition of angiotensin-pressor responses and potentiation of atrial natriuretic peptide-induced urinary cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) output in rats. Tracheal plasma extravasation (TPE) was used as a surrogate to assess propensity of compounds to promote upper airway angioedema. Antihypertensive efficacy in renin-dependent and -independent states was measured in spontaneously hypertensive rats and deoxycorticosterone acetate salt hypertensive rats, respectively. Administration of omapatrilat and coadministration of valsartan and candoxatril blocked angiotensin induced vasopressor responses and potentiated atrial natriuretic peptide-induced increase in urinary cGMP output. In spontaneously hypertensive rats, valsartan, omapatrilat, and valsartan-candoxatril combination all produced reduction in blood pressure to a similar extent, whereas candoxatril was ineffective. In deoxycorticosterone acetate rats, omapatrilat, candoxatril, and valsartan-candoxatril combination but not valsartan produced reduction in blood pressure. Antihypertensive doses of omapatrilat produced robust increases in TPE; by contrast, valsartan, candoxatril, or their combination did not increase TPE. Pretreatment with icatibant, a bradykinin B2 antagonist, abolished omapatrilat-induced TPE but not its antihypertensive effects. On the background of NEP inhibition, suppression of the renin-angiotensin system through ARB and ACE inhibition shows a similar antihypertensive efficacy but exerts differential effects on bradykinin metabolism and TPE indicative of reduced risk of angioedema. Thus, dual AT1 receptor blockade and NEP inhibition is potentially an attractive approach to retain the excellent antihypertensive effects of omapatrilat but with a superior safety profile.
Acute myeloid leukemia represents a heterogeneous malignant hematological disease with a complex underlying biology suggesting multiple patterns of genetic and epigenetic alterations. Recent evidence suggests that epigenetic mechanisms, especially deregulation of DNA methylation, play an important pathogenic role in leukemogenesis and the first epigenetic drugs have entered the clinic. Therefore, an improved understanding of the impact of altered epigenetic patterns on leukemogenesis represents a pre-requisite for improved patient management and outcome. Here, we provide an overview of current advances in deciphering the leukemic epigenome and its clinical relevance. Recent high-throughput analyses and genome-wide studies provide an optimal starting point for future epigenetic and integrative analyses that will further the development and use of predictive and prognostic epigenetic markers in acute myeloid leukemia.
The sunflower stem weevil, Cylindrocopturus adspersus (LeConte) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), has caused yield losses across much of the western Great Plains. Little is known about the field biology of this pest. Simple prediction models, such as degree-day models, are an integral tool for development of C. adspersus management strategies. Using data collected in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska, we sought for predictable variation between C. adspersus pupation, adult eclosion, and emergence and accumulated degree-days Celsius (DD) by using a temperature threshold of 5 degrees C. Accurate phenological models can be used to time scouting efforts and pesticide applications. The relationship between phenological data and accumulated DD fit nonlinear, Gaussian distributions better than uniform distributions. Phenological models were developed to describe these distributions for pupation, adult presence within the stalk and adult emergence. The pupation model predicts 50% pupation at 197 DD and 90% at 307 DD. Model results predict that 50% of adult eclosion within the stalks will have transpired at 396 DD and 90% at 529 DD. A model-averaged result from two data sets predicts 5% adult emergence from stalks at 262 DD, 50% emergence at 540 DD, 75% emergence at 657 DD, and 90% at 777 DD. Scouting for adults thus can be initiated at 262 DD. Current chemical controls target adults to prevent oviposition. Thus, applications therefore should not be made before this point.
Leukemia stem cells (LSCs) are capable of limitless self-renewal and are responsible for the maintenance of leukemia. Because selective eradication of LSCs could offer substantial therapeutic benefit, there is interest in identifying the signaling pathways that control their development. We studied LSCs in mouse models of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) induced either by coexpression of the Hoxa9 and Meis1a oncogenes or by the fusion oncoprotein MLL-AF9. We show that the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway is required for self-renewal of LSCs that are derived from either hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) or more differentiated granulocyte-macrophage progenitors (GMP). Because the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway is normally active in HSCs but not in GMP, these results suggest that reactivation of beta-catenin signaling is required for the transformation of progenitor cells by certain oncogenes. beta-catenin is not absolutely required for self-renewal of adult HSCs; thus, targeting the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway may represent a new therapeutic opportunity in AML.
Patients with mixed lineage leukemia (MLL)-rearranged B-lymphoblastic leukemias (B-ALL) have an unfavorable prognosis and require intensified treatment. Multiple MLL fusion partners have been identified, complicating the diagnostic evaluation of MLL rearrangements. We analyzed molecular markers of MLL rearrangement for use in rapid diagnostic assays and found the immunomodulatory protein, Galectin-1 (Gal-1), to be selectively expressed in MLL-rearranged B-ALL.
MLL-AF4 acute lymphocytic leukemia has a poor prognosis, and the mechanisms by which these leukemias develop are not understood despite intensive research based on well-known concepts and methods. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a new class of small noncoding RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate expression of target mRNA transcripts. We recently reported that ectopic expression of miR-128b together with miR-221, two of the miRNAs downregulated in MLL-AF4 ALL, restores glucocorticoid resistance through downregulation of the MLL-AF4 chimeric fusion proteins MLL-AF4 and AF4-MLL that are generated by chromosomal translocation t(4;11). Here we report the identification of new mutations in miR-128b in RS4;11 cells, derived from MLL-AF4 ALL patient. One novel mutation significantly reduces the processing of miR-128b. Finally, this base change occurs in a primary MLL-AF4 ALL sample as an acquired mutation. These results demonstrate that the novel mutation in miR-128b in MLL-AF4 ALL alters the processing of miR-128b and that the resultant downregulation of mature miR-128b contributes to glucocorticoid resistance through the failure to downregulate the fusion oncogenes.
Hematopoietic malignant relapse still remains the major cause of death following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). Although there has been a large focus on the immunologic mechanisms responsible for the graft-versus-tumor (GVT) effect or lack thereof, there has been little attention paid to investigating the biologic basis of hematologic malignant disease relapse following allogeneic HSCT. There are a large number of factors that are responsible for the biologic resistance of hematopoietic tumors following allogeneic HSCT. We have focused on 5 major areas including clonal evolution of cancer drug resistance, cancer radiation resistance, genomic basis of leukemia resistance, cancer epigenetics, and resistant leukemia stem cells. We recommend increased funding to pursue 3 broad areas that will significantly enhance our understanding of the biologic basis of malignant relapse after allogeneic HSCT, including: (1) genomic and epigenetic alterations, (2) cancer stem cell biology, and (3) clonal cancer drug and radiation resistance.
Muscarinic receptor (mAChRs) subtypes are viable targets for the design of novel agents for use in a number of central and peripheral disorders. In vitro isolated tissue functional assays for muscarinic receptor subtypes have played an invaluable role in basic research and drug discovery. The availability of biological assays for generation of quantitative estimates of affinity and potency of ligands allows evaluation of the contribution of a given mAChR to the functional end organ response and also enables drug discovery by facilitating the iterative process of screening and optimization of chemical leads. This unit describes isolated tissue functional assays for the quantification of ligand affinity and efficacy at the M(1), M(2), M(3), M(4), and M(5) muscarinic receptor subtypes in tissues expressing the native receptor using organ bath techniques.
M(2) and M(3) muscarinic receptor subtypes are attractive drug targets for the treatment of pulmonary and urological disorders. Described in this unit is an in vivo pithed rat assay for estimating agonist and antagonist potency at M(2) and M(3) receptors. In the pithed rat, the muscarinic agonist methacholine induces reduction in heart rate (bradycardia) and blood pressure (depressor response) through interaction with M(2) and M(3) receptors, respectively. The dissociation of the peripheral and central nervous system in the pithed rat preparation permits the direct assessment of compound effects on the heart and vasculature in the absence of cardiovascular reflexes. Estimates of antagonist potency can be reliably established by quantifying the shift in the agonist dose-effect curve produced under appropriate equilibrium or non-equilibrium conditions.
G-protein-coupled muscarinic receptors (mAChRs), of which there are five subtypes (M(1)-M(5)), are attractive drug targets for a number of disorders. Described in this unit are radioligand-binding assays for defining the selectivity and affinity of chemical agents at the five mAChR subtypes. Detailed methodologies and troubleshooting strategies are provided for saturation-binding studies, to estimate K(D) and B(max) values, and for competition-binding studies to estimate K(i) values. Emphasis is placed on experimental details that are critical for executing a robust and reliable assay.
There is growing evidence that aberrant gene expression in cancer is linked to epigenetic deregulation like promoter cytosine methylation in CpG-islands. In this issue of Cancer Cell, Figueroa et al. show that genome-wide promoter DNA methylation profiling reveals unique AML subgroups and methylation patterns that are associated with clinical outcome.
MLL-rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) represents an unfavorable type of leukemia that often is highly resistant to glucocorticoids such as prednisone and dexamethasone. Because response to prednisone largely determines clinical outcome of pediatric patients with ALL, overcoming resistance to this drug may be an important step toward improving prognosis. Here, we show how gene expression profiling identifies high-level MCL-1 expression to be associated with prednisolone resistance in MLL-rearranged infant ALL, as well as in more favorable types of childhood ALL. To validate this observation, we determined MCL-1 expression with quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in a cohort of MLL-rearranged infant ALL and pediatric noninfant ALL samples and confirmed that high-level MCL-1 expression is associated with prednisolone resistance in vitro. In addition, MCL-1 expression appeared to be significantly higher in MLL-rearranged infant patients who showed a poor response to prednisone in vivo compared with prednisone good responders. Finally, down-regulation of MCL-1 in prednisolone-resistant MLL-rearranged leukemia cells by RNA interference, to some extent, led to prednisolone sensitization. Collectively, our findings suggest a potential role for MCL-1 in glucocorticoid resistance in MLL-rearranged infant ALL, but at the same time strongly imply that high-level MCL-1 expression is not the sole mechanism providing resistance to these drugs.
Leukemias are composed of a hierarchy of cells, only a fraction of which have stem cell-like properties and are capable of self-renewal. Mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) fusion proteins produced by translocations involving the MLL gene on chromosome 11q23 confer stem cell-like properties on committed hematopoietic progenitors. This provides an opportunity to assess changes in immunophenotype, gene expression, and epigenetic programs during the transition from a hematopoietic cell with minimal inherent self-renewal capability to cells capable of leukemic self-renewal.
MLL-AF4 acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) has a poor prognosis. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small noncoding RNAs that posttranscriptionally regulate expression of target mRNAs. Our analysis of previously published data showed that expression of miR-128b and miR-221 is down-regulated in MLL-rearranged ALL relative to other types of ALL. Reexpression of these miRNAs cooperatively sensitizes 2 cultured lines of MLL-AF4 ALL cells to glucocorticoids. Target genes down-regulated by miR-128b include MLL, AF4, and both MLL-AF4 and AF4-MLL fusion genes; miR-221 down-regulates CDKN1B. These results demonstrate that down-regulation of miR-128b and miR-221 is implicated in glucocorticoid resistance and that restoration of their levels is a potentially promising therapeutic in MLL-AF4 ALL.
5-HT(4) receptor agonists such as tegaserod have demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), a highly prevalent disorder characterized by chronic constipation and impairment of intestinal propulsion, abdominal bloating, and pain. The 5-HT(4) receptor binding site can accommodate functionally and sterically diverse groups attached to the amine nitrogen atom of common ligands, occupying what may be termed a "secondary" binding site. Using a multivalent approach to lead discovery, we have investigated how varying the position and nature of the secondary binding group can be used as a strategy to achieve the desired 5-HT(4) agonist pharmacological profile. During this study, we discovered the ability of amine-based secondary binding groups to impart exceptional gains in the binding affinity, selectivity, and functional potency of 5-HT(4) agonists. Optimization of the leads generated by this approach afforded compound 26, a selective, orally efficacious 5-HT(4) agonist for the potential treatment of gastrointestinal motility-related disorders.
Earlier reviews have covered pharmacokinetic drug interactions of natural and semi-synthetic opioid analgesics. This review will focus on the pharmacokinetic drug-drug interactions of methadone, propoxyphene, levomethadyl, meperidine, other phenylpiperidines (such as fentanyl), pentazocine, diphenoxylate, loperimide, and tramadol. The authors present an extensive review of the current literature. These drugs, with a few exceptions, are, at least partially, if not primarily, metabolized by the cytochrome P450 isoenzyme system (CYP) 3A4, and the action/interaction of these enzymes can have an effect on outcome. Therefore, these drugs are likely to produce drug-drug interactions when the CYP3A4 system is inhibited or induced. Knowledge of these drug-drug interactions is important because such interactions may decrease drug efficacy or result in adverse effects.
Leukemias that harbor translocations involving the mixed lineage leukemia gene (MLL) possess unique biologic characteristics and often have an unfavorable prognosis. Gene expression analyses demonstrate a distinct profile for MLL-rearranged leukemias with consistent high-level expression of select Homeobox genes, including HOXA9. Here, we investigated the effects of HOXA9 suppression in MLL-rearranged and MLL-germline leukemias using RNA interference. Gene expression profiling after HOXA9 suppression demonstrated co-down-regulation of a program highly expressed in human MLL-AML and murine MLL-leukemia stem cells, including HOXA10, MEIS1, PBX3, and MEF2C. We demonstrate that HOXA9 depletion in 17 human AML/ALL cell lines (7 MLL-rearranged, 10 MLL-germline) induces proliferation arrest and apoptosis specifically in MLL-rearranged cells (P = .007). Similarly, assessment of primary AMLs demonstrated that HOXA9 suppression induces apoptosis to a greater extent in MLL-rearranged samples (P = .01). Moreover, mice transplanted with HOXA9-depleted t(4;11) SEMK2 cells revealed a significantly lower leukemia burden, thus identifying a role for HOXA9 in leukemia survival in vivo. Our data indicate an important role for HOXA9 in human MLL-rearranged leukemias and suggest that targeting HOXA9 or downstream programs may be a novel therapeutic option.
Characterization of gene expression programs and pathways important for normal and cancer stem cells has become an active area of investigation. Microarray analysis of various cell populations provides an opportunity to assess genomewide expression programs to define cellular identity and to potentially identify pathways activated in various stem cells. Here we describe methods to isolate a leukemia stem cell population, amplify RNA, and perform microarray analyses.
Leukemias and other cancers have been proposed to contain a subpopulation of cells that display characteristics of stem cells and maintain tumor growth. The fact that most anticancer therapy is directed against the bulk of the tumor, and possibly spares the cancer stem cells, may lie at the heart of treatment failures with conventional modalities. Leukemia stem cells are fairly well described for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), but their existence and relevance for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is less clear. Several reports describe subpopulations with primitive phenotypes in clinical ALL samples. However, it has also been suggested that the majority of leukemic subfractions can propagate leukemia in the appropriate experimental setting, and that their hierarchical organization is less strict than in AML. In addition, it is uncertain whether cancer stem cells arise from malignant transformation of a tissue-specific stem cell, or from committed progenitors or differentiated cells that re-acquire a stem cell-like program. In common childhood ALL, current evidence points towards the cell of origin being a committed lymphoid progenitor. In this review, we highlight recent findings relating to the question of leukemia stem cells in ALL.
The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor stem cell leukemia gene (Scl) is a master regulator for hematopoiesis essential for hematopoietic specification and proper differentiation of the erythroid and megakaryocyte lineages. However, the critical downstream targets of Scl remain undefined. Here, we identified a novel Scl target gene, transcription factor myocyte enhancer factor 2 C (Mef2C) from Scl(fl/fl) fetal liver progenitor cell lines. Analysis of Mef2C(-/-) embryos showed that Mef2C, in contrast to Scl, is not essential for specification into primitive or definitive hematopoietic lineages. However, adult VavCre(+)Mef2C(fl/fl) mice exhibited platelet defects similar to those observed in Scl-deficient mice. The platelet counts were reduced, whereas platelet size was increased and the platelet shape and granularity were altered. Furthermore, megakaryopoiesis was severely impaired in vitro. Chromatin immunoprecipitation microarray hybridization analysis revealed that Mef2C is directly regulated by Scl in megakaryocytic cells, but not in erythroid cells. In addition, an Scl-independent requirement for Mef2C in B-lymphoid homeostasis was observed in Mef2C-deficient mice, characterized as severe age-dependent reduction of specific B-cell progenitor populations reminiscent of premature aging. In summary, this work identifies Mef2C as an integral member of hematopoietic transcription factors with distinct upstream regulatory mechanisms and functional requirements in megakaryocyte and B-lymphoid lineages.
We report the unexpected finding that loss of Hh signaling through conditional deletion of Smoothened (Smo) in the adult hematopoietic compartment has no apparent effect on adult hematopoiesis, including peripheral blood count, number or cell-cycle status of stem or progenitor cells, hematopoietic colony-forming potential, long-term repopulating activity in competitive repopulation assays, or stress response to serial 5-fluorouracil treatment. Furthermore, pharmacologic inhibition of Hh signaling with a potent and selective small molecule antagonist has no substantive effect on hematopoiesis in the mouse. In addition, Hh signaling is not required for the development of MLL-AF9-mediated acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Taken together, these data demonstrate that Hh signaling is dispensable for normal hematopoietic development and hematopoietic stem cell function, indicating that targeting of Hh signaling in solid tumors is not likely to result in hematopoietic toxicity. Furthermore, the Hh pathway may not be a compelling target in certain hematopoietic malignancies.
Existing antimuscarinic drugs for overactive bladder have high affinity for M(3)/M(1) muscarinic receptors and consequently produce M(3)/M(1)-mediated adverse effects including dry mouth, constipation, mydriasis and somnolence. TD-6301 is a M(2/4) muscarinic receptor-selective antagonist developed for the treatment of overactive bladder. The present studies characterize the in vitro and in vivo pharmacological properties of this molecule in comparison to other marketed antimuscarinics agents. In radioligand binding studies, TD-6301 was found to possess high affinity for human M(2) muscarinic receptor (K(i)=0.36 nM) and was 31, 36, 2 and 128-fold selective for the human M(2) muscarinic receptor compared to the M(1), M(3), M(4) and M(5) muscarinic receptors, respectively. The in vivo bladder selectivity of TD-6301 in rats was determined to be 26, 28, >100, 16 and 0.4-fold, respectively, assessed by comparing its potency for inhibition of volume-induced bladder contractions to that for inhibition of oxotremorine-induced salivation, inhibition of small-intestinal transit, decreases in locomotor activity, increases in pupil diameter and increases in heart rate. TD-6301 was more potent in inhibiting volume-induced bladder contractions (ID(50)=0.075 mg/kg) compared to oxotremorine-induced salivation (ID(50)=1.0 mg/kg) resulting in a bladder/salivary gland selectivity ratio greater than that observed for tolterodine, oxybutynin, darifenacin and solifenacin. The preclinical properties of TD-6301 suggest that this molecule is likely to be efficacious in overactive bladder patients with a lower propensity to cause M(3) muscarinic receptor mediated adverse effects.
Utilization of Theravances multivalent approach to drug discovery towards 5-HT(4) receptor agonists with a focus on identification of neutral (non-charged at physiological pH) secondary binding groups is described. Optimization of a quinolone-tropane primary binding group with a chiral 2-propanol linker to a range of neutral secondary binding group motifs, for binding affinity and functional potency at the 5-HT(4) receptor, selectivity over the 5-HT(3) receptor, oral pharmacokinetics, and in vivo efficacy in models of GI motility, afforded velusetrag (TD-5108). Velusetrag has achieved proof-of-concept in patients with chronic idiopathic constipation.
The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway serves as a key sensor of cellular-energetic state and functions to maintain tissue homeostasis. Hyperactivation of the mTOR pathway impairs hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) function and is associated with leukemogenesis. However, the roles of the unique mTOR complexes (mTORCs) in hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis have not been adequately elucidated. We deleted the mTORC1 component, regulatory-associated protein of mTOR (Raptor), in mouse HSCs and its loss causes a nonlethal phenotype characterized by pancytopenia, splenomegaly, and the accumulation of monocytoid cells. Furthermore, Raptor is required for HSC regeneration, and plays largely nonredundant roles with rapamycin-insensitive companion of mTOR (Rictor) in these processes. Ablation of Raptor also significantly extends survival of mice in models of leukemogenesis evoked by Pten deficiency. These data delineate critical roles for mTORC1 in hematopoietic function and leukemogenesis and inform clinical strategies based on chronic mTORC1 inhibition.
MLL-rearranged leukemias exemplify malignancies with perturbations of the epigenetic landscape. Specific chromatin modifications that aid in the perpetuation of MLL fusion gene driven oncogenic programs are being defined, presenting novel avenues for therapeutic intervention. Proof-of-concept studies have recently been reported, using small-molecule inhibitors targeting the histone methyltransferase disruptor of telomeric silencing 1-like (DOT1L), or the acetyl-histone binding protein bromodomain containing protein 4 (BRD4) showing potent activity against MLL-rearranged leukemias in preclinical models. It is apparent that intensive efforts will be made toward the further development of small-molecule inhibitors targeting these, and other chromatin-associated protein targets. These studies may lead to the advent of a new generation of much-needed therapeutic modalities in leukemia and other cancers.
Sampling methods for square and boll-feeding plant bugs (Hemiptera: Miridae) occurring on cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., were compared with the intent to assess if one approach was viable for two species occurring from early-season squaring to late bloom in 25 fields located along the coastal cotton growing region of south Texas. Cotton fleaphopper, Pseudatomoscelis seriatus (Reuter), damages squares early-season and dominated collections using five sampling methods (approximately 99% of insects collected). A major species composition shift occurred beginning at peak bloom in coastal fields, when verde plant bug, Creontiades signatus Distant, represented 55-65% of collections. Significantly more cotton fleahoppers were captured by experienced samplers with the beat bucket and sweep net than with the other methods (30-100% more). There were more than twice as many verde plant bugs captured by experienced and inexperienced samplers with the beat bucket and sweep net than captured with the KISS and visual methods. Using a beat bucket or sweep net reduced sampling time compared with the visual method for the experienced samplers. For both species, comparing regressions of beat bucket-based counts to counts from the traditional visual method across nine cultivar and water regime combinations resulted in only one combination differing from the rest, suggesting broad applicability and ability to translate established visual-based economic thresholds to beat bucket-based thresholds. In a first look at sample size considerations, 40 plants (four 10-plant samples) per field site was no more variable than variation associated with larger sample sizes. Overall, the beat bucket is much more effective in sampling for cotton fleahopper and verde plant bug than the traditional visual method, it is more suited to cotton fleahopper sampling early-season when plants are small, it transitions well to sample for verde plant bug during bloom, and it performs well under a variety of soil moisture conditions and cultivar selections.
Further application of our multivalent approach to drug discovery directed to 5-HT(4) receptor agonists is described. Optimization of the linker and secondary binding amine in the indazole-tropane primary binding group series, for binding affinity and functional potency at the 5-HT(4) receptor, selectivity over the 5-HT(3) receptor, oral pharmacokinetics, and in vivo efficacy in models of GI motility, resulted in the identification of clinical compound TD-2749.
Xenon is a general anesthetic with neuroprotective properties. Xenon inhibition at the glycine-binding site of the N-Methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor mediates xenon neuroprotection against ischemic injury in vitro. Here we identify specific amino acids important for xenon binding to the NMDA receptor, with the aim of finding silent mutations that eliminate xenon binding but leave normal receptor function intact.
The proto-oncogene EVI1 (ecotropic viral integration site-1), located on chromosome band 3q26, is aberrantly expressed in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with 3q26 rearrangements. In the current study, we showed, in a large AML cohort carrying 11q23 translocations, that ? 43% of all mixed lineage leukemia (MLL)-rearranged leukemias are EVI1(pos). High EVI1 expression occurs in AMLs expressing the MLL-AF6, -AF9, -AF10, -ENL, or -ELL fusion genes. In addition, we present evidence that EVI1(pos) MLL-rearranged AMLs differ molecularly, morphologically, and immunophenotypically from EVI1(neg) MLL-rearranged leukemias. In mouse bone marrow cells transduced with MLL-AF9, we show that MLL-AF9 fusion protein maintains Evi1 expression on transformation of Evi1(pos) HSCs. MLL-AF9 does not activate Evi1 expression in MLL-AF9-transformed granulocyte macrophage progenitors (GMPs) that were initially Evi1(neg). Moreover, shRNA-mediated knockdown of Evi1 in an Evi1(pos) MLL-AF9 mouse model inhibits leukemia growth both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that Evi1 provides a growth-promoting signal. Using the Evi1(pos) MLL-AF9 mouse leukemia model, we demonstrate increased sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents on reduction of Evi1 expression. We conclude that EVI1 is a critical player in tumor growth in a subset of MLL-rearranged AMLs.
A key characteristic of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is the ability to self-renew. Genetic deletion of ?-catenin during fetal HSC development leads to impairment of self-renewal while ?-catenin is dispensable in fully developed adult HSCs. Whether ?-catenin is required for maintenance of fully developed CML leukemia stem cells (LSCs) is unknown. Here, we use a conditional mouse model to show that deletion of ?-catenin after CML initiation does not lead to a significant increase in survival. However, deletion of ?-catenin synergizes with imatinib (IM) to delay disease recurrence after imatinib discontinuation and to abrogate CML stem cells. These effects can be mimicked by pharmacologic inhibition of ?-catenin via modulation of prostaglandin signaling. Treatment with the cyclooxygenase inhibitor indomethacin reduces ?-catenin levels and leads to a reduction in LSCs. In conclusion, inhibiting ?-catenin by genetic inactivation or pharmacologic modulation is an effective combination therapy with imatinib and targets CML stem cells.
A growing body of data suggests the importance of epigenetic mechanisms in cancer. Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) has been implicated in self-renewal and cancer progression, and its components are overexpressed in many cancers. However, its role in cancer development and progression remains unclear. We used conditional alleles for the PRC2 components enhancer of zeste 2 (Ezh2) and embryonic ectoderm development (Eed) to characterize the role of PRC2 function in leukemia development and progression. Compared with wild-type leukemia, Ezh2-null MLL-AF9-mediated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) failed to accelerate upon secondary transplantation. However, Ezh2-null leukemias maintained self-renewal up to the third round of transplantation, indicating that Ezh2 is not strictly required for MLL-AF9 AML, but plays a role in leukemia progression. Genome-wide analyses of PRC2-mediated trimethylation of histone 3 demonstrated locus-specific persistence of H3K27me3 despite inactivation of Ezh2, suggesting partial compensation by Ezh1. In contrast, inactivation of the essential PRC2 gene, Eed, led to complete ablation of PRC2 function, which was incompatible with leukemia growth. Gene expression array analyses indicated more profound gene expression changes in Eed-null compared with Ezh2-null leukemic cells, including down-regulation of Myc target genes and up-regulation of PRC2 targets. Manipulating PRC2 function may be of therapeutic benefit in AML.
Increasing use of high throughput genomic scale assays requires effective visualization and analysis techniques to facilitate data interpretation. Moreover, existing tools often require programming skills, which discourages bench scientists from examining their own data. We have created iCanPlot, a compelling platform for visual data exploration based on the latest technologies. Using the recently adopted HTML5 Canvas element, we have developed a highly interactive tool to visualize tabular data and identify interesting patterns in an intuitive fashion without the need of any specialized computing skills. A module for geneset overlap analysis has been implemented on the Google App Engine platform: when the user selects a region of interest in the plot, the genes in the region are analyzed on the fly. The visualization and analysis are amalgamated for a seamless experience. Further, users can easily upload their data for analysis--which also makes it simple to share the analysis with collaborators. We illustrate the power of iCanPlot by showing an example of how it can be used to interpret histone modifications in the context of gene expression.
Generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) by somatic cell reprogramming involves global epigenetic remodelling. Whereas several proteins are known to regulate chromatin marks associated with the distinct epigenetic states of cells before and after reprogramming, the role of specific chromatin-modifying enzymes in reprogramming remains to be determined. To address how chromatin-modifying proteins influence reprogramming, we used short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) to target genes in DNA and histone methylation pathways, and identified positive and negative modulators of iPSC generation. Whereas inhibition of the core components of the polycomb repressive complex 1 and 2, including the histone 3 lysine 27 methyltransferase EZH2, reduced reprogramming efficiency, suppression of SUV39H1, YY1 and DOT1L enhanced reprogramming. Specifically, inhibition of the H3K79 histone methyltransferase DOT1L by shRNA or a small molecule accelerated reprogramming, significantly increased the yield of iPSC colonies, and substituted for KLF4 and c-Myc (also known as MYC). Inhibition of DOT1L early in the reprogramming process is associated with a marked increase in two alternative factors, NANOG and LIN28, which play essential functional roles in the enhancement of reprogramming. Genome-wide analysis of H3K79me2 distribution revealed that fibroblast-specific genes associated with the epithelial to mesenchymal transition lose H3K79me2 in the initial phases of reprogramming. DOT1L inhibition facilitates the loss of this mark from genes that are fated to be repressed in the pluripotent state. These findings implicate specific chromatin-modifying enzymes as barriers to or facilitators of reprogramming, and demonstrate how modulation of chromatin-modifying enzymes can be exploited to more efficiently generate iPSCs with fewer exogenous transcription factors.
Epigenetic mechanisms regulating leukemia stem cells (LSCs) are an attractive target for therapy of blood cancers. Here, we report that conditional knockout of the DNA methyltransferase Dnmt1 blocked development of leukemia, and haploinsufficiency of Dnmt1 was sufficient to delay progression of leukemogenesis and impair LSC self-renewal without altering normal hematopoiesis. Haploinsufficiency of Dnmt1 resulted in tumor suppressor gene derepression associated with reduced DNA methylation and bivalent chromatin marks. These results suggest that LSCs depend on not only active expression of leukemogenic programs, but also DNA methylation-mediated silencing of bivalent domains to enforce transcriptional repression.
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Journal of Visualized Experiments
What is Visualize?
JoVE Visualize is a tool created to match the last 5 years of PubMed publications to methods in JoVE's video library.
How does it work?
We use abstracts found on PubMed and match them to JoVE videos to create a list of 10 to 30 related methods videos.
Video X seems to be unrelated to Abstract Y...
In developing our video relationships, we compare around 5 million PubMed articles to our library of over 4,500 methods videos. In some cases the language used in the PubMed abstracts makes matching that content to a JoVE video difficult. In other cases, there happens not to be any content in our video library that is relevant to the topic of a given abstract. In these cases, our algorithms are trying their best to display videos with relevant content, which can sometimes result in matched videos with only a slight relation.