Eltrombopag, an FDA-approved non-peptidyl thrombopoietin receptor agonist, is clinically used for the treatment of aplastic anemia, a disease characterized by hematopoietic stem cell failure and pancytopenia, to improve platelet counts and stem cell function. Eltrombopag treatment results in a durable trilineage hematopoietic expansion in patients. Some of the eltrombopag hematopoietic activity has been attributed to its off-target effects, including iron chelation properties. However, the mechanism of action for its full spectrum of clinical effects is still poorly understood. Here, we report that eltrombopag bound to the TET2 catalytic domain and inhibited its dioxygenase activity, which was independent of its role as an iron chelator. The DNA demethylating enzyme TET2, essential for hematopoietic stem cell differentiation and lineage commitment, is frequently mutated in myeloid malignancies. Eltrombopag treatment expanded TET2-proficient normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, in part because of its ability to mimic loss of TET2 with simultaneous thrombopoietin receptor activation. On the contrary, TET inhibition in TET2 mutant malignant myeloid cells prevented neoplastic clonal evolution in vitro and in vivo. This mechanism of action may offer a restorative therapeutic index and provide a scientific rationale to treat selected patients with TET2 mutant–associated or TET deficiency–associated myeloid malignancies.
Yihong Guan, Metis Hasipek, Dongxu Jiang, Anand D. Tiwari, Dale R. Grabowski, Simona Pagliuca, Sunisa Kongkiatkamon, Bhumika Patel, Salendra Singh, Yvonne Parker, Thomas LaFramboise, Daniel Lindner, Mikkael A. Sekeres, Omar Y. Mian, Yogen Saunthararajah, Jaroslaw P. Maciejewski, Babal K. Jha