Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) attrition is considered the key event underlying progressive bone marrow failure (BMF) in Fanconi anemia (FA), the most frequent inherited BMF disorder in humans. However, despite major advances, how the cellular, biochemical and molecular alterations reported in FA lead to HSC exhaustion remains poorly understood. Here, we demonstrated in human and mouse cells that loss-of-function of FANCA or FANCC, products of two genes affecting more than 80% of FA patients worldwide, is associated with constitutive expression of the transcription factor Microphthalmia (MiTF) through the cooperative, unscheduled activation of several stress signaling pathways, including the SMAD2/3, p38MAPK, NF-kB and AKT cascades. We validated the unrestrained Mitf expression downstream of p38 in Fanca-/- mice, which display hallmarks of hematopoietic stress, including loss of HSC quiescence, DNA damage accumulation in HSCs and reduced HSC repopulation capacity. Importantly, we demonstrated that shRNA-mediated downregulation of Mitf expression or inhibition of p38 signaling rescued HSC quiescence and prevented DNA damage accumulation. Our data support the hypothesis that HSC attrition in FA is the consequence of defects in the DNA damage response combined with chronic activation of otherwise transiently activated signaling pathways, which jointly prevent the recovery of HSC quiescence.
Alessia Oppezzo, Julie Bourseguin, Emilie Renaud, Patrycja Pawlikowska, Filippo Rosselli
The protein-protein interaction between menin and Mixed Lineage Leukemia 1 (MLL1) plays a critical role in acute leukemias with translocations of the MLL1 gene or with mutations in the Nucleophosmin 1 (NPM1) gene. As a step toward clinical translation of menin-MLL1 inhibitors, we report development of MI-3454, a highly potent and orally bioavailable inhibitor of the menin-MLL1 interaction. MI-3454 profoundly inhibited proliferation and induced differentiation in acute leukemia cells and primary patient samples with MLL1 translocations or NPM1 mutations. When applied as a single agent, MI-3454 induced complete remission or regression of leukemia in mouse models of MLL1-rearranged or NPM1-mutated leukemia, including patient-derived xenograft models, through downregulation of key genes involved in leukemogenesis. We also identified MEIS1 as a potential pharmacodynamic biomarker of treatment response with MI-3454 in leukemia, and demonstrated that this compound is well tolerated and did not impair normal hematopoiesis in mice. Overall, this study demonstrates for the first time profound activity of the menin-MLL1 inhibitor as a single agent in clinically relevant PDX models of leukemia. These data provide a strong rationale for clinical translation of MI-3454 or its analogs for leukemia patients with MLL1-rearrangements or NPM1 mutations
Szymon Klossowski, Hongzhi Miao, Katarzyna Kempinska, Tao Wu, Trupta Purohit, EunGi Kim, Brian M. Linhares, Dong Chen, Gloria Jih, Eric Perkey, Huang Huang, Miao He, Bo Wen, Yi Wang, Ke Yu, Stanley Chun-Wei Lee, Gwenn Danet-Desnoyers, Winifred Trotman, Malathi Kandarpa, Anitria Cotton, Omar Abdel-Wahab, Hongwei Lei, Yali Dou, Monica Guzman, Luke Peterson, Tanja A. Gruber, Sarah M. Choi, Duxin Sun, Pingda Ren, Lian-Sheng Li, Yi Liu, Francis J. Burrows, Ivan Maillard, Tomasz Cierpicki, Jolanta Grembecka
The drug efflux pump ABCB1 is a key driver of chemoresistance, and high expression predicts for treatment failure in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In this study, we identified and functionally validated the network of enhancers that controls expression of ABCB1. We show that exposure of leukemia cells to daunorubicin activated an integrated stress response-like transcriptional program to induce ABCB1 through remodeling and activation of an ATF4-bound, stress-responsive enhancer. Protracted stress primed enhancers for rapid increases in activity following re-exposure of cells to daunorubicin, providing an epigenetic memory of prior drug treatment. In primary human AML, exposure of fresh blast cells to daunorubicin activated the stress-responsive enhancer and led to dose-dependent induction of ABCB1. Dynamic induction of ABCB1 by diverse stressors, including chemotherapy, facilitated escape of leukemia cells from targeted third-generation ABCB1 inhibition, providing an explanation for the failure of ABCB1 inhibitors in clinical trials. Stress-induced up regulation of ABCB1 was mitigated by combined use of pharmacologic inhibitors U0126 and ISRIB, which inhibit stress signalling and have potential for use as adjuvants to enhance the activity of ABCB1 inhibitors.
Mark S. Williams, Fabio M.R. Amaral, Fabrizio Simeoni, Tim C.P. Somervaille
In patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 10% to 30% with the normal karyotype express mutations in regulators of DNA methylation, such as TET2 or DNMT3A, in conjunction with activating mutation in the receptor tyrosine kinase FLT3. These patients have a poor prognosis because they do not respond well to established therapies. Here, utilizing mouse models of AML that recapitulate cardinal features of the human disease and bear a combination of loss-of-function mutations in either Tet2 or Dnmt3a along with expression of Flt3ITD, we show that inhibition of the protein tyrosine phosphatase SHP2, which is essential for cytokine receptor signaling (including FLT3), by the small molecule allosteric inhibitor SHP099 impairs growth and induces differentiation of leukemic cells without impacting normal hematopoietic cells. We also show that SHP099 normalizes the gene expression program associated with increased cell proliferation and self-renewal in leukemic cells by downregulating the Myc signature. Our results provide a new and more effective target for treating a subset of patients with AML who bear a combination of genetic and epigenetic mutations.
Ruchi Pandey, Baskar Ramdas, Changlin Wan, George Sandusky, Morvarid Mohseni, Chi Zhang, Reuben Kapur
Iron deficiency is common worldwide and is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. The increasing prevalence of indiscriminate iron supplementation during pregnancy also raises concerns about the potential adverse effects of iron excess. We examined how maternal iron status affects the delivery of iron to the placenta and fetus. Using mouse models, we documented maternal homeostatic mechanisms which protect the placenta and fetus from maternal iron excess. We determined that under physiological conditions or in iron deficiency, fetal and placental hepcidin does not regulate fetal iron endowment. With maternal iron deficiency, critical transporters mediating placental iron uptake (transferrin receptor 1, TFR1) and export (ferroportin, FPN) were strongly regulated. In mice, not only was TFR1 increased but FPN was surprisingly decreased to preserve placental iron, in the face of fetal iron deficiency. In human placentas from pregnancies with mild iron deficiency, TFR1 was increased but without a change in FPN. However, induction of more severe iron deficiency in human trophoblast in vitro resulted in the regulation of both TFR1 and FPN, similarly to the mouse model. This placental adaptation prioritizing placental iron is mediated by the iron-regulatory protein 1 and is important for the maintenance of mitochondrial respiration, thus ultimately protecting the fetus from the potentially dire consequences of generalized placental dysfunction.
Veena Sangkhae, Allison L. Fisher, Shirley Wong, Mary Dawn Koenig, Lisa Tussing-Humphreys, Alison Chu, Melisa Lelić, Tomas Ganz, Elizabeta Nemeth
β-thalassemia is a genetic anemia caused by partial or complete loss of β-globin synthesis leading to ineffective erythropoiesis and RBCs with short life-span. Currently, there is no efficacious oral medication modifying anemia for patients with beta-thalassemia. The inappropriately low levels of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin enable excessive iron absorption by ferroportin, the unique cellular iron exporter in mammals, leading to organ iron overload and associated morbidities. Correction of unbalanced iron absorption and recycling by induction of hepcidin synthesis or treatment with hepcidin mimetics ameliorates β-thalassemia. However, hepcidin modulation or replacement strategies currently in clinical development all require parenteral drug administration. We identified oral ferroportin inhibitors by screening a library of small molecular weight compounds for modulators of ferroportin internalization. Restricting iron availability by VIT-2763, the first clinical stage oral ferroportin inhibitor, ameliorated anemia and the dysregulated iron homeostasis in the Hbbth3/+ mouse model of beta-thalassemia intermedia. VIT-2763 not only improved erythropoiesis but also corrected the proportions of myeloid precursors in spleens of Hbbth3/+ mice. VIT-2763 is currently developed as an oral drug targeting ferroportin for the treatment of β-thalassemia.
Vania Manolova, Naja Nyffenegger, Anna Flace, Patrick Altermatt, Ahmet Varol, Cédric Doucerain, Hanna Sundstrom, Franz Dürrenberger
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) induce molecular remission in the majority of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), but persistence of CML stem cells hinders cure and necessitates indefinite TKI therapy. We report that CML stem cells upregulate expression of pleiotrophin (PTN) and require cell-autonomous PTN signaling for CML pathogenesis in BCR/ABL+ mice. Constitutive PTN deletion substantially reduced the numbers of CML stem cells capable of initiating CML in vivo. Hematopoietic cell–specific deletion of PTN suppressed CML development in BCR/ABL+ mice, suggesting that cell-autonomous PTN signaling was necessary for CML disease evolution. Mechanistically, PTN promoted CML stem cell survival and TKI resistance via induction of Jun and the unfolded protein response. Human CML cells were also dependent on cell-autonomous PTN signaling and anti–PTN antibody suppressed human CML colony formation and CML repopulation in vivo. Our results suggest that targeted inhibition of PTN has therapeutic potential to eradicate CML stem cells.
Heather A. Himburg, Martina Roos, Tiancheng Fang, Yurun Zhang, Christina M. Termini, Lauren Schlussel, Mindy M. Kim, Amara Pang, Jenny Kan, Liman Zhao, Hyung Suh, Joshua P. Sasine, Gopal Sapparapu, Peter M. Bowers, Gary Schiller, John P. Chute
The interleukin-3 receptor alpha subunit, CD123, is expressed on many hematologic malignancies including acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN). Tagraxofusp (SL-401) is a CD123-targeted therapy consisting of interleukin-3 fused to a truncated diphtheria toxin payload. Factors influencing response to tagraxofusp other than CD123 expression are largely unknown. We interrogated tagraxofusp resistance in patients and experimental models and found that it was not associated with CD123 loss. Rather, resistant AML and BPDCN cells frequently acquired deficiencies in the diphthamide synthesis pathway, impairing tagraxofusp’s ability to ADP-ribosylate cellular targets. Expression of DPH1, encoding a diphthamide pathway enzyme, was reduced by DNA CpG methylation in resistant cells. Treatment with the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor azacitidine restored DPH1 expression and tagraxofusp sensitivity. We also developed a drug-dependent ADP-ribosylation assay in primary cells that correlated with tagraxofusp activity and may represent an additional novel biomarker. As predicted by these results and our observation that resistance also increased mitochondrial apoptotic priming, we found that the combination of tagraxofusp and azacitidine was effective in patient-derived xenografts treated in vivo. These data have important implications for clinical use of tagraxofusp and led to a phase 1 study combining tagraxofusp and azacitidine in myeloid malignancies.
Katsuhiro Togami, Timothy Pastika, Jason Stephansky, Mahmoud Ghandi, Amanda L. Christie, Kristen L. Jones, Carl A. Johnson, Ross W. Lindsay, Christopher L. Brooks, Anthony Letai, Jeffrey W. Craig, Olga Pozdnyakova, David M. Weinstock, Joan Montero, Jon C. Aster, Cory M. Johannessen, Andrew A. Lane
Patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) have a clonal population of blood cells deficient in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins, resulting from a mutation in the X-linked gene PIGA. Here we report on a set of patients in whom PNH results instead from biallelic mutation of PIGT on chromosome 20. These PIGT-PNH patients have clinically typical PNH, but they have in addition prominent auto-inflammatory features, including recurrent attacks of aseptic meningitis. In all these patients we find a germ-line point mutation in one PIGT allele, whereas the other PIGT allele is removed by somatic deletion of a 20q region comprising maternally imprinted genes implicated in myeloproliferative syndromes. Unlike in PIGA-PNH cells, GPI is synthesized in PIGT-PNH cells and, since its attachment to proteins is blocked, free GPI is expressed on the cell surface. From studies of patients’ leukocytes and of PIGT-knockout THP-1 cells we show that, through increased IL-1β secretion, activation of the lectin pathway of complement and generation of C5b-9 complexes, free GPI is the agent of auto-inflammation. Eculizumab treatment abrogates not only intravascular hemolysis, but also auto-inflammation. Thus, PIGT-PNH differs from PIGA-PNH both in the mechanism of clonal expansion and in clinical manifestations.
Britta Höchsmann, Yoshiko Murakami, Makiko Osato, Alexej Knaus, Michi Kawamoto, Norimitsu Inoue, Tetsuya Hirata, Shogo Murata, Markus Anliker, Thomas Eggermann, Marten Jäger, Ricarda Floettmann, Alexander Höellein, Sho Murase, Yasutaka Ueda, Jun-ichi Nishimura, Yuzuru Kanakura, Nobuo Kohara, Hubert Schrezenmeier, Peter M. Krawitz, Taroh Kinoshita
Background: Idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease (iMCD) is a hematologic illness involving cytokine-induced lymphoproliferation, systemic inflammation, cytopenias, and life-threatening multi-organ dysfunction. The molecular underpinnings of interleukin-6(IL-6)-blockade refractory patients remain unknown; no targeted therapies exist. In this study, we searched for therapeutic targets in IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD patients with the thrombocytopenia, anasarca, fever/elevated C-reactive protein, reticulin myelofibrosis, renal dysfunction, organomegaly (TAFRO) clinical subtype. Methods: We analyzed tissues and blood samples from three IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD-TAFRO patients. Cytokine panels, quantitative serum proteomics, flow cytometry of PBMCs, and pathway analyses were employed to identify novel therapeutic targets. To confirm elevated mTOR signaling, a candidate therapeutic target from the above assays, immunohistochemistry was performed for phosphorylated S6, a read-out of mTOR activation, in three iMCD lymph node tissue samples and controls. Proteomic, immunophenotypic, and clinical response assessments were performed to quantify the effects of administration of the mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus. Results: Studies of three IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD cases revealed increased CD8+ T cell activation, VEGF-A, and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway activity. Administration of sirolimus significantly attenuated CD8+ T cell activation and decreased VEGF-A levels. Sirolimus induced clinical benefit responses in all three patients with durable and ongoing remissions of 66, 19, and 19 months. Conclusion: This precision medicine approach identifies PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling as the first pharmacologically-targetable pathogenic process in IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD. Prospective evaluation of sirolimus in treatment-refractory iMCD is planned (NCT03933904). Funding: Castleman’s Awareness & Research Effort/Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, Penn Center for Precision Medicine, University Research Foundation, Intramural NIH funding, and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
David C. Fajgenbaum, Ruth-Anne Langan, Alberto Sada Japp, Helen L. Partridge, Sheila K. Pierson, Amrit Singh, Daniel J. Arenas, Jason R. Ruth, Christopher S. Nabel, Katie Stone, Mariko Okumura, Anthony Schwarer, Fábio Freire Jose, Nelson Hamerschlak, Gerald B. Wertheim, Michael B. Jordan, Adam D. Cohen, Vera Krymskaya, Arthur Rubenstein, Michael R. Betts, Taku Kambayashi, Frits van Rhee, Thomas S. Uldrick