Gfi1 as a new predictive and therapeutical target of MDS/AML
ABSTRACT: MDS is characterized by a disturbed function of the myeloid lineage of the hematopoietic system that may transform to AML, a malignant disease of the myeloid compartment. Epigenetic and genetic aberrations contribute to the initiation and progression of MDS/AML. GFI1 is a transcriptional repressor, which regulates expression of its target genes by, among other approaches, recruiting HDACs to its target genes to remove histone 3 lysine 9 (H3K9) acetylation, a marker for active gene expression. Low levels of GFI1 expression and deletion of one GFI1 allele contribute to MDS/AML development in human patients and are associated with a specific gene expression signature and inferior prognosis. To explore the mechanism behind this, we used a mouse strain, which expresses GFI1 only at 5-10% of the normal level (GFI1-Knock-down (KD)). Knock-down of GFI1 or loss of one murine Gfi1 allele reduced latency and increased incidence of AML in different murine models of human MDS/AML development. On the epigenetic level, KD of Gfi1 lead to increased amount of H3K9 acetylation, resulting in increased expression of genes involved in AML development. On a translational level both murine as well as human AML cells with low expression of GFI1 are resistant to standard epigenetic therapy. We show that treatment with histone acetyltransferase inhibitors might be a novel treatment approach for low Gfi1-expressing blast cells. GFI1 has a dose dependent role in myeloid malignancies and is a biomarker for therapeutic intervention. We used microarrays to detail the global programme of gene expression in bone marrow cells of Nup98HoxD13 leucemic mice and identified distinct classes of up-regulated genes during this process. Bone marrow cells of leukemic mice (from KI & KD Nup98HoxD13 mice) were collected for RNA extraction and hybridization on Affymetrix microarrays. We sought to obtain homogeneous populations of leukemic cell population, so we took samples of mice which had the same age.
Project description:MDS is characterized by a disturbed function of the myeloid lineage of the hematopoietic system that may transform to AML, a malignant disease of the myeloid compartment. Epigenetic and genetic aberrations contribute to the initiation and progression of MDS/AML. GFI1 is a transcriptional repressor, which regulates expression of its target genes by, among other approaches, recruiting HDACs to its target genes to remove histone 3 lysine 9 (H3K9) acetylation, a marker for active gene expression. Low levels of GFI1 expression and deletion of one GFI1 allele contribute to MDS/AML development in human patients and are associated with a specific gene expression signature and inferior prognosis. To explore the mechanism behind this, we used a mouse strain, which expresses GFI1 only at 5-10% of the normal level (GFI1-Knock-down (KD)). Knock-down of GFI1 or loss of one murine Gfi1 allele reduced latency and increased incidence of AML in different murine models of human MDS/AML development. On the epigenetic level, KD of Gfi1 lead to increased amount of H3K9 acetylation, resulting in increased expression of genes involved in AML development. On a translational level both murine as well as human AML cells with low expression of GFI1 are resistant to standard epigenetic therapy. We show that treatment with histone acetyltransferase inhibitors might be a novel treatment approach for low Gfi1-expressing blast cells. GFI1 has a dose dependent role in myeloid malignancies and is a biomarker for therapeutic intervention. We carried out ChIP-Seq Analysis of H3K9Ac and RNA-Seq in leukemic cells from mice expressing reduced levels of Gfi1 compared to controls expressing normal levels of the factor. Overall design: Leukemic cells were extracted from 2 mice from each genotype, Gfi1-KI and Gfi1-KD. H3 and H3K9Ac ChIP-Seq as well as RNA-Seq was carried out on each sample.
Project description:Growth factor independence 1 (GFI1) is a DNA binding zinc finger protein, which can mediate transcriptional repression mainly by recruiting histone-modifying enzymes to its target genes. GFI1 plays important roles in hematopoiesis, in particular by regulating both the function of hematopoietic stem- and precursor cells and differentiation along myeloid and lymphoid lineages. In recent years, a number of publications have provided evidence that GFI1 is involved in the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), its proposed precursor, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), and possibly also in the progression from MDS to AML. For instance, expression levels of the GFI1 gene correlate with patient survival and treatment response in both AML and MDS and can influence disease progression and maintenance in experimental animal models. Also, a non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of GFI1, GFI1-36N, which encodes a variant GFI1 protein with a decreased efficiency to act as a transcriptional repressor, was found to be a prognostic factor for the development of AML and MDS. Both the GFI1-36N variant as well as reduced expression of the GFI1 gene lead to genome-wide epigenetic changes at sites where GFI1 occupies target gene promoters and enhancers. These epigenetic changes alter the response of leukemic cells to epigenetic drugs such as HDAC- or HAT inhibitors, indicating that GFI1 expression levels and genetic variants of GFI1 are of clinical relevance. Based on these and other findings, specific therapeutic approaches have been proposed to treat AML by targeting some of the epigenetic changes that occur as a consequence of GFI1 expression. Here, we will review the well-known role of Gfi1 as a transcription factor and describe the more recently discovered functions of GFI1 that are independent of DNA binding and how these might affect disease progression and the choice of epigenetic drugs for therapeutic regimens of AML and MDS.
Project description:The differentiation of haematopoietic cells is regulated by a plethora of so-called transcription factors (TFs). Mutations in genes encoding TFs or graded reduction in their expression levels can induce the development of various malignant diseases such as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Growth Factor Independence 1 (GFI1) is a transcriptional repressor with key roles in haematopoiesis, including regulating self-renewal of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) as well as myeloid and lymphoid differentiation. Analysis of AML patients and different AML mouse models with reduced GFI1 gene expression levels revealed a direct link between low GFI1 protein level and accelerated AML development and inferior prognosis. Here, we report that upregulated expression of GFI1 in several widely used leukemic cell lines inhibits their growth and decreases the ability to generate colonies in vitro. Similarly, elevated expression of GFI1 impedes the in vitro expansion of murine pre-leukemic cells. Using a humanized AML model, we demonstrate that upregulation of GFI1 expression leads to myeloid differentiation morphologically and immunophenotypically, increased level of apoptosis and reduction in number of cKit+ cells. These results suggest that increasing GFI1 level in leukemic cells with low GFI1 expression level could be a therapeutic approach.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is characterized by accumulation of myeloid blast cells in the bone marrow. Despite all efforts, prognosis of AML patients remains poor, warranting new therapeutic approaches. A single nucleotide polymorphism of growth factor independence 1 (GFI1), a hematopoietic transcription factor, generates a protein with an asparagine (GFI136N) instead of a serine at position 36 (GFI136S), which we have previously reported to be associated with de novo AML in humans. Using knock-in mouse strains, in which the endogenous murine Gfi1 coding sequences are substituted by human GFI136N or GFI136S, we found that GFI136N shortened latency and increased incidence of AML in three different, well-established murine models of AML. On a molecular level, the presence of GFI136N was associated with increased acetylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9) at Gfi1 target genes in both murine and human samples, contributing to AML development. Since in GFI136N containing leukemic cells Gfi1 target genes have hyperacetylated H3K9, the treatment strategy currently used with histone deacetylases inhibitors (HDACis) might not be beneficial. We show that treatment with an HDACi impeded growth of murine and human cells homozygous for GFI136S, but had a limited effect on cells expressing GFI136N. In contrast, treatment with a histone acetyltransferase inhibitor (HATi) specifically targeted GFI136N-expressing malignant cells while sparing non-malignant cells. These results establish, as a proof of principle, how epigenetic changes in GFI136N-induced AML can be exploited to treat AML and implicate HATi as a new, more effective potential therapeutic strategy for GFI136N AML patients. Overall design: one sample per genotype has been sequenced
Project description:Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a heterogeneous, clonal haematopoietic disorder, with ~1/3 of patients progressing to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Many elderly MDS patients do not tolerate intensive therapeutic regimens, and therefore have an unmet need for better tolerated therapies. Epigenetics is important in the pathogenesis of MDS/AML with DNA methylation, and histone acetylation the most widely studied modifications. Epigenetic therapeutic agents have targeted the reversible nature of these modifications with some clinical success. The aim of this study was to characterise the molecular consequences of treatment of MDS and AML cells with the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) Romidepsin. Romidepsin as a single agent induced cell death with an increasing dose and time profile associated with increased acetylation of histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) and decreased HDAC activity. Gene expression profiling, qPCR, network and pathway analysis recognised that oxidation-reduction was involved in response to Romidepsin. ROS was implicated as being involved post-treatment with the involvement of TSPO and MPO. Genomic analysis uncoupled the differences in protein-DNA interactions and gene regulation. The spatial and temporal transcriptional differences associated with acetylated, mono- and tri-methylated H3K9, representative of two activation and a repression mark respectively, were identified. Bioinformatic analysis uncovered positional enrichment and transcriptional differences between these marks; a degree of overlap with increased/decreased gene expression that correlates to increased/decreased histone modification. Overall, this study has unveiled a number of underlying mechanisms of the HDACi Romidepsin that could identify potential drug combinations for use in the clinic.
Project description:Growth Factor Independence 1 (GFI1) is a transcriptional repressor that plays a critical role during both myeloid and lymphoid haematopoietic lineage commitment. Several studies have demonstrated the involvement of GFI1 in haematological malignancies and have suggested that low expression of GFI1 is a negative indicator of disease progression for both myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). In this study, we have stratified AML patients into those defined as having a normal karyotype (CN-AML). Unlike the overall pattern in AML, those patients with CN-AML have a poorer survival rate when GFI1 expression is high. In this group, high GFI1 expression is paralleled by higher FLT3 expression, and, even when the FLT3 gene is not mutated, exhibit a FLT3-ITD signature of gene expression. Knock-down of GFI1 expression in the human AML Fujioka cell line led to a decrease in the level of FLT3 RNA and protein and to the down regulation of FLT3-ITD signature genes, thus linking two major prognostic indicators for AML.
Project description:Using a screening strategy, we identified the tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) motif protein, Tetratricopeptide repeat domain 5 (TTC5, also known as stress responsive activator of p300 or Strap) as required for the survival of human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. TTC5 is a stress-inducible transcription cofactor known to interact directly with the histone acetyltransferase EP300 to augment the TP53 response. Knockdown (KD) of TTC5 induced apoptosis of both murine and human AML cells, with concomitant loss of clonogenic and leukemia-initiating potential; KD of EP300 elicited a similar phenotype. Consistent with the physical interaction of TTC5 and EP300, the onset of apoptosis following KD of either gene was preceded by reduced expression of BCL2 and increased expression of pro-apoptotic genes. Forced expression of BCL2 blocked apoptosis and partially rescued the clonogenic potential of AML cells following TTC5 KD. KD of both genes also led to the accumulation of MYC, an acetylation target of EP300, and the form of MYC that accumulated exhibited relative hypoacetylation at K148 and K157, residues targeted by EP300. In view of the ability of excess cellular MYC to sensitize cells to apoptosis, our data suggest a model whereby TTC5 and EP300 cooperate to prevent excessive accumulation of MYC in AML cells and their sensitization to cell death. They further reveal a hitherto unappreciated role for TTC5 in leukemic hematopoiesis.
Project description:Our ability to manage acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is limited by our incomplete understanding of the epigenetic disruption central to leukemogenesis, including improper histone methylation. Here we examine 16 histone H3 genes in 434 primary AML samples and identify Q69H, A26P, R2Q, R8H and K27M/I mutations (1.6%), with higher incidence in secondary AML (9%). These mutations occur in pre-leukemic hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and exist in the major leukemic clones in patients. They increase the frequency of functional HSCs, alter differentiation, and amplify leukemic aggressiveness. These effects are dependent on the specific mutation. H3K27 mutation increases the expression of genes involved in erythrocyte and myeloid differentiation with altered H3K27 tri-methylation and K27 acetylation. The functional impact of histone mutations is independent of RUNX1 mutation, although they at times co-occur. This study establishes that H3 mutations are drivers of human pre-cancerous stem cell expansion and important early events in leukemogenesis.
Project description:Through a targeted knockdown (KD) screen of chromatin regulatory genes, we identified the EP400 complex components EPC1 and EPC2 as critical oncogenic cofactors in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). EPC1 and EPC2 were required for the clonogenic potential of human AML cells of multiple molecular subtypes. Focusing on MLL-mutated AML as an exemplar, Epc1 or Epc2 KD-induced apoptosis of murine MLL-AF9 AML cells and abolished leukemia stem cell potential. By contrast, normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) were spared. Similar selectivity was observed for human primary AML cells versus normal CD34(+) HSPC. In keeping with these distinct functional consequences, Epc1 or Epc2 KD-induced divergent transcriptional consequences in murine MLL-AF9 granulocyte-macrophage progenitor-like (GMP) cells versus normal GMP, with a signature of increased MYC activity in leukemic but not normal cells. This was caused by accumulation of MYC protein and was also observed following KD of other EP400 complex genes. Pharmacological inhibition of MYC:MAX dimerization, or concomitant MYC KD, reduced apoptosis following EPC1 KD, linking the accumulation of MYC to cell death. Therefore, EPC1 and EPC2 are components of a complex that directly or indirectly serves to prevent MYC accumulation and AML cell apoptosis, thus sustaining oncogenic potential.
Project description:Aberrant reactivation of hedgehog (Hh) signaling has been described in a wide variety of human cancers including cancer stem cells. However, involvement of the Hh-signaling system in the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment during the development of myeloid neoplasms is unknown. In this study, we assessed the expression of Hh-related genes in primary human CD34(+) cells, CD34(+) blastic cells and BM stromal cells. Both Indian Hh (Ihh) and its signal transducer, smoothened (SMO), were expressed in CD34(+) acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)-derived cells. However, Ihh expression was relatively low in BM stromal cells. Remarkably, expression of the intrinsic Hh-signaling inhibitor, human Hh-interacting protein (HHIP) in AML/MDS-derived stromal cells was markedly lower than in healthy donor-derived stromal cells. Moreover, HHIP expression levels in BM stromal cells highly correlated with their supporting activity for SMO(+) leukemic cells. Knockdown of HHIP gene in stromal cells increased their supporting activity although control cells marginally supported SMO(+) leukemic cell proliferation. The demethylating agent, 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine rescued HHIP expression via demethylation of HHIP gene and reduced the leukemic cell-supporting activity of AML/MDS-derived stromal cells. This indicates that suppression of stromal HHIP could be associated with the proliferation of AML/MDS cells.