Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Myelodysplastic Syndromes are associated with disease-initiating stem cells that are not eliminated by conventional therapies. Transcriptomic analysis of stem and progenitor populations in MDS and AML demonstrated overexpression of STAT3 that was validated in an independent cohort. STAT3 overexpression was predictive of a shorter survival and worse clinical features in a large MDS cohort. High STAT3 expression signature in MDS CD34+ cells was similar to known pre-leukemic gene signatures. Functionally, STAT3 inhibition by a clinical, antisense oligonucleotide, AZD9150, led to reduced viability and increased apoptosis in leukemic cell lines. AZD9150 was rapidly incorporated by primary MDS/AML stem and progenitor cells and led to increased hematopoietic differentiation. STAT3 knockdown also impaired leukemic growth in vivo and led to decreased expression of MCL1 and other oncogenic genes in malignant cells. These studies demonstrate that STAT3 is an adverse prognostic factor in MDS/AML and provide a pre-clinical rationale for studies using AZD9150 in these diseases.
Aditi Shastri, Gaurav Choudhary, Margarida Teixeira, Shanisha Gordon-Mitchell, Nandini Ramachandra, Lumie Bernard, Sanchari Bhattacharyya, Robert Lopez, Kith Pradhan, Orsolya Giricz, Goutham Ravipati, Li-Fan Wong, Sally Cole, Tushar D. Bhagat, Jonathan Feld, Yosman Dhar, Matthias Bartenstein, Victor J. Thiruthuvanathan, Amittha Wickrema, B. Hilda Ye, David A. Frank, Andrea Pellagatti, Jacqueline Boultwood, Tianyuan Zhou, Youngsoo Kim, A. Robert MacLeod, Pearlie K. Epling-Burnette, Minwei Ye, Patricia McCoon, Richard Woessner, Ulrich Steidl, Britta Will, Amit K. Verma
ASXL1 is frequently mutated in myeloid malignancies and is known to co-occur with other gene mutations. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the leukemogenesis associated with ASXL1 and cooperating mutations remain to be elucidated. Here we report that Asxl1 loss cooperated with haploinsufficiency of Nf1, a negative regulator of the RAS signaling pathway, to accelerate the development of myeloid leukemia in mice. Loss of Asxl1 and Nf1 in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells resulted in a gain-of-function transcriptional activation of multiple pathways critical for leukemogenesis, such as MYC, NRAS, and BRD4. The hyperactive MYC and BRD4 transcription programs were correlated with elevated H3K4 tri-methylation at the promoter regions of genes involving these pathways. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of both MAPK pathway and BET bromodomain prevented leukemia initiation and inhibited disease progression in Asxl1Δ/Δ;Nf1Δ/Δ mice. Concomitant mutations of ASXL1 and RAS pathway genes were associated with aggressive progression of myeloid malignancies in patients. This study sheds light on the understanding of the cooperative effect between epigenetic alterations and signaling pathways in accelerating the progression of myeloid malignancies and provides a rational therapeutic strategy for the treatment of myeloid malignancies with ASXL1 and RAS pathway gene mutations.
Peng Zhang, Fuhong He, Jie Bai, Shohei Yamamoto, Shi Chen, Lin Zhang, Mengyao Sheng, Lei Zhang, Ying Guo, Na Man, Hui Yang, Suyun Wang, Tao Cheng, Stephen D. Nimer, Yuan Zhou, Mingjiang Xu, Qian-Fei Wang, Feng-Chun Yang
Intestinal homeostasis depends on a slowly proliferating stem cell compartment in crypt cells, followed by rapid proliferation of committed progenitor cells in the transit amplifying (TA) compartment. The balance between proliferation and differentiation in intestinal stem cells (ISCs) is regulated by Wnt/β-catenin signaling, although the mechanism remains unclear. We previously targeted PORCN, an enzyme essential for all Wnt secretion, and demonstrated that stromal production of Wnts was required for intestinal homeostasis. Here, a PORCN inhibitor was used to acutely suppress Wnt signaling. Unexpectedly, the treatment induced an initial burst of proliferation in the stem cell compartment of the small intestine, due to conversion of ISCs into TA cells with a loss of intrinsic ISC self-renewal. This process involved MAPK pathway activation, as the proliferating cells in the base of the intestinal crypt contained phosphorylated ERK1/2, and a MEK inhibitor attenuated the proliferation of ISCs and their differentiation into TA cells. These findings suggest a role for Wnt signaling in suppressing the MAPK pathway at the crypt base to maintain a pool of ISCs. The interaction between Wnt and MAPK pathways in vivo has potential therapeutic applications in cancer and regenerative medicine.
Zahra Kabiri, Gediminas Greicius, Hamed Zaribafzadeh, Amanda Hemmerich, Christopher M. Counter, David M. Virshup
PRDM16 is a transcriptional co-regulator involved in translocations in acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndromes and T acute lymphoblastic leukemia that is highly expressed in and required for the maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and can be aberrantly expressed in AML. Prdm16 is expressed as full-length (fPrdm16) and short (sPrdm16) isoforms, the latter lacking the N-terminal PR-domain. The role of both isoforms in normal and malignant hematopoiesis is unclear. We show here that fPrdm16 was critical for HSC maintenance, induced multiple genes involved in GTPase signaling and repressed inflammation, while sPrdm16 supported B-cell development biased towards marginal zone B-cells and induced an inflammatory signature. In a mouse model of human MLL-AF9 leukemia fPrdm16 extended latency, while sPrdm16 shortened latency and induced a strong inflammatory signature, including several cytokines and chemokines that are associated with myelodysplasia and with a worse prognosis in human AML. Finally, in human NPM1-mutant and in MLL-translocated AML high expression of PRDM16, which negatively impacts outcome, was associated with inflammatory gene expression, thus corroborating the mouse data. Our observations demonstrate distinct roles for Prdm16 isoforms in normal HSCs and AML, and identify sPrdm16 as one of the drivers of prognostically adverse inflammation in leukemia.
David J. Corrigan, Larry L. Luchsinger, Mariana Justino de Almeida, Linda J. Williams, Alexandros Strikoudis, Hans-Willem Snoeck
For gene therapy of gain-of-function autosomal dominant diseases, either correcting or deleting the disease allele is potentially curative. To test whether there may be an advantage of one approach over the other for WHIM (warts, hypogammaglobulinemia, infections and myelokathexis) syndrome — a primary immunodeficiency disorder caused by gain-of-function autosomal dominant mutations in chemokine receptor CXCR4 — we performed competitive transplantation experiments using both lethally irradiated wild-type (Cxcr4+/+) and unconditioned WHIM (Cxcr4+/w) recipient mice. In both models, hematopoietic reconstitution was markedly superior using bone marrow (BM) cells from donors hemizygous for Cxcr4 (Cxcr4+/o) compared with BM cells from Cxcr4+/+ donors. Remarkably, only ~6% Cxcr4+/o hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) chimerism post-transplantation in unconditioned Cxcr4+/w recipient BM supported >70% long-term donor myeloid chimerism in blood and corrected myeloid cell deficiency in blood. Donor Cxcr4+/o HSCs differentiated normally and did not undergo exhaustion as late as 465 days post-transplantation. Thus, disease allele deletion resulting in Cxcr4 haploinsufficiency was superior to disease allele repair in a mouse model of gene therapy for WHIM syndrome, allowing correction of leukopenia without recipient conditioning.
Ji-Liang Gao, Erin Yim, Marie Siwicki, Alexander Yang, Qian Liu, Ari Azani, Albert Owusu-Ansah, David H. McDermott, Philip M. Murphy
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a degenerative motor neuron (MN) disease caused by loss of functional SMN protein due to SMN1 gene mutations, is a leading cause of infant mortality. Increasing SMN levels ameliorates the disease phenotype and is unanimously accepted as a therapeutic approach for SMA patients. The ubiquitin/proteasome system is known to regulate SMN protein levels; however whether autophagy controls SMN levels remains poorly explored. Here we show that SMN protein is degraded by autophagy. Pharmacological and genetic inhibition of autophagy increase SMN levels, while induction of autophagy decreases SMN. SMN degradation occurs via its interaction with the autophagy adapter p62/SQSTM1. We also show that SMA neurons display reduced autophagosome clearance, increased p62/ubiquitinated protein levels, and hyperactivated mTORC1 signaling. Importantly, reducing p62 levels markedly increases SMN and its binding partner gemin2, promotes MN survival and extends lifespan in fly and mouse SMA models revealing p62 as a new potential therapeutic target to treat SMA.
Natalia Rodriguez-Muela, Andrey Parkhitko, Tobias Grass, Rebecca M. Gibbs, Erika M. Norabuena, Norbert Perrimon, Rajat Singh, Lee L. Rubin
Leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) are responsible for the initiation, development, and relapse of leukemia. The identification of novel therapeutic LIC targets is critical to curing leukemia. In this report, we reveal that junctional adhesion molecule 3 (JAM3) is highly enriched in both mouse and human LICs. Leukemogenesis is almost completely abrogated upon Jam3 deletion during serial transplantations in an MLL-AF9–induced murine acute myeloid leukemia model. In contrast, Jam3 deletion does not affect the functions of mouse hematopoietic stem cells. Moreover, knockdown of JAM3 leads to a dramatic decrease in the proliferation of both human leukemia cell lines and primary LICs. JAM3 directly associates with LRP5 to activate the downstream PDK1/AKT pathway, followed by the downregulation of GSK3β and activation of β-catenin/CCND1 signaling, to maintain the self-renewal ability and cell cycle entry of LICs. Thus, JAM3 may serve as a functional LIC marker and play an important role in the maintenance of LIC stemness through unexpected LRP5/PDK1/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin/CCND1 signaling pathways but not via its canonical role in cell junctions and migration. JAM3 may be an ideal therapeutic target for the eradication of LICs without influencing normal hematopoiesis.
Yaping Zhang, Fangzhen Xia, Xiaoye Liu, Zhuo Yu, Li Xie, Ligen Liu, Chiqi Chen, Haishan Jiang, Xiaoxin Hao, Xiaoxiao He, Feifei Zhang, Hao Gu, Jun Zhu, Haitao Bai, Cheng Cheng Zhang, Guo-Qiang Chen, Junke Zheng
Spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1) is an adult-onset neurodegenerative disease caused by a polyglutamine expansion in the protein ATXN1, which is involved in transcriptional regulation. Although symptoms appear relatively late in life, primarily from cerebellar dysfunction, pathogenesis begins early, with brain-wide transcriptional changes detectable as early as a week after birth in SCA1 knock-in mice. Given the importance of this postnatal period for cerebellar development, we asked whether this region might be developmentally altered by mutant ATXN1. We found that expanded ATXN1 stimulates the proliferation of postnatal cerebellar stem cells in SCA1 mice. These hyper-proliferating stem cells tended to differentiate into GABAergic inhibitory interneurons rather than astrocytes; this significantly increased the GABAergic inhibitory interneuron synaptic connections, disrupting cerebellar Purkinje cell function in a non-cell autonomous manner. We confirmed the increased basket cell-Purkinje cell connectivity in human SCA1 patients. Mutant ATXN1 thus alters the neural circuitry of the developing cerebellum, setting the stage for the later vulnerability of Purkinje cells to SCA1. We propose that other late-onset degenerative diseases may also be rooted in subtle developmental derailments.
Chandrakanth Reddy Edamakanti, Jeehaeh Do, Alessandro Didonna, Marco Martina, Puneet Opal
The remarkable regeneration capability of skeletal muscle depends on coordinated proliferation and differentiation of satellite cells. The self-renewal of satellite cells is critical for long-term maintenance of muscle regeneration potential. Hypoxia profoundly affects the proliferation, differentiation, and self-renewal of cultured myoblasts. However, the physiological relevance of hypoxia and hypoxia signaling in satellite cells in vivo remains largely unknown. Here, we report that satellite cells are in an intrinsic hypoxic state in vivo and express hypoxia-inducible factor 2A (HIF2A). HIF2A promotes the stemness and long-term homeostatic maintenance of satellite cells by maintaining the quiescence, increasing the self-renewal and blocking the myogenic differentiation of satellite cells. HIF2A stabilization in satellite cells cultured under normoxia augmented their engraftment potential in regenerative muscle. Reversely, HIF2A ablation led to the depletion of satellite cells and the consequent regenerative failure in the long-term. In contrast, transient pharmacological inhibition of HIF2A accelerated muscle regeneration by increasing satellite cell proliferation and differentiation. Mechanistically, HIF2A induces the quiescence/self-renewal of satellite cells by binding the promoter of Spry1 gene and activating Spry1 expression. These findings suggest that HIF2A is a pivotal mediator of hypoxia signaling in satellite cells and may be therapeutically targeted to improve muscle regeneration.
Liwei Xie, Amelia Yin, Anna S. Nichenko, Aaron M. Beedle, Jarrod A. Call, Hang Yin
Dynamic interaction with the immune system profoundly regulates tumor cell dormancy. However, it is unclear how immunological cues trigger cancer cell–intrinsic signaling pathways for entering into dormancy. Here, we show that IFN-β treatment induced tumor-repopulating cells (TRC) to enter dormancy through an indolamine 2,3-dioxygenase/kynurenine/aryl hydrocarbon receptor/p27–dependent (IDO/Kyn/AhR/p27-dependent) pathway. Strategies to block this metabolic circuitry did not relieve dormancy, but led to apoptosis of dormant TRCs in murine and human melanoma models. Specifically, blocking AhR redirected IFN-β signaling to STAT3 phosphorylation through both tyrosine and serine sites, which subsequently facilitated STAT3 nuclear translocation and subsequent binding to the p53 promoter in the nucleus. Upregulation of p53 in turn disrupted the pentose phosphate pathway, leading to excessive ROS production and dormant TRC death. Additionally, in melanoma patients, high expression of IFN-β correlated with tumor cell dormancy. Identification of this mechanism for controlling TRC dormancy by IFN-β provides deeper insights into cancer-immune interaction and potential new cancer immunotherapeutic modalities.
Yuying Liu, Jiadi Lv, Jinyan Liu, Xiaoyu Liang, Xun Jin, Jing Xie, Le Zhang, Degao Chen, Roland Fiskesund, Ke Tang, Jingwei Ma, Huafeng Zhang, Wenqian Dong, Siqi Mo, Tianzhen Zhang, Feiran Cheng, Yabo Zhou, Qingzhu Jia, Bo Zhu, Yan Kong, Jun Guo, Haizeng Zhang, Zhuo-Wei Hu, Xuetao Cao, F. Xiao-Feng Qin, Bo Huang