How particular bone marrow niche factors contribute to the leukemogenic activities of leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) remains largely unknown. Here, we showed that ATP levels were markedly increased in the bone marrow niches of mice with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and LICs preferentially localized to the endosteal niche with relatively high ATP levels, as indicated by a sensitive ATP indicator. ATP could efficiently induce the influx of ions into LICs in an MLL-AF9–induced murine AML model via the ligand-gated ion channel P2X7. P2x7 deletion led to notably impaired homing and self-renewal capacities of LICs and contributed to an approximately 5-fold decrease in the number of functional LICs but had no effect on normal hematopoiesis. ATP/P2X7 signaling enhanced the calcium flux–mediated phosphorylation of CREB, which further transactivated phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (Phgdh) expression to maintain serine metabolism and LIC fates. P2X7 knockdown resulted in a markedly extended survival of recipients transplanted with either human AML cell lines or primary leukemia cells. Blockade of ATP/P2X7 signaling could efficiently inhibit leukemogenesis. Here, we provide a perspective for understanding how ATP/P2X7 signaling sustains LIC activities, which may benefit the development of specific strategies for targeting LICs or other types of cancer stem cells.
Xiaoxiao He, Jiangbo Wan, Xiaona Yang, Xiuze Zhang, Dan Huang, Xie Li, Yejun Zou, Chiqi Chen, Zhuo Yu, Li Xie, Yaping Zhang, Ligen Liu, Shangang Li, Yuzheng Zhao, Hongfang Shao, Ye Yu, Junke Zheng