EVI1 is critical for the pathogenesis of a subset of MLL-AF9-rearranged AMLs.
ABSTRACT: The proto-oncogene EVI1 (ecotropic viral integration site-1), located on chromosome band 3q26, is aberrantly expressed in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with 3q26 rearrangements. In the current study, we showed, in a large AML cohort carrying 11q23 translocations, that ? 43% of all mixed lineage leukemia (MLL)-rearranged leukemias are EVI1(pos). High EVI1 expression occurs in AMLs expressing the MLL-AF6, -AF9, -AF10, -ENL, or -ELL fusion genes. In addition, we present evidence that EVI1(pos) MLL-rearranged AMLs differ molecularly, morphologically, and immunophenotypically from EVI1(neg) MLL-rearranged leukemias. In mouse bone marrow cells transduced with MLL-AF9, we show that MLL-AF9 fusion protein maintains Evi1 expression on transformation of Evi1(pos) HSCs. MLL-AF9 does not activate Evi1 expression in MLL-AF9-transformed granulocyte macrophage progenitors (GMPs) that were initially Evi1(neg). Moreover, shRNA-mediated knockdown of Evi1 in an Evi1(pos) MLL-AF9 mouse model inhibits leukemia growth both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that Evi1 provides a growth-promoting signal. Using the Evi1(pos) MLL-AF9 mouse leukemia model, we demonstrate increased sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents on reduction of Evi1 expression. We conclude that EVI1 is a critical player in tumor growth in a subset of MLL-rearranged AMLs.
Project description:Mixed lineage leukemia (MLL)-fusion proteins can induce acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs) from either hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) or granulocyte-macrophage progenitors (GMPs), but it remains unclear whether the cell of origin influences the biology of the resultant leukemia. MLL-AF9-transduced single HSCs or GMPs could be continuously replated, but HSC-derived clones were more likely than GMP-derived clones to initiate AML in mice. Leukemia stem cells derived from either HSCs or GMPs had a similar immunophenotype consistent with a maturing myeloid cell (LGMP). Gene expression analyses demonstrated that LGMP inherited gene expression programs from the cell of origin including high-level Evi-1 expression in HSC-derived LGMP. The gene expression signature of LGMP derived from HSCs was enriched in poor prognosis human MLL-rearranged AML in three independent data sets. Moreover, global 5'-mC levels were elevated in HSC-derived leukemias as compared with GMP-derived leukemias. This mirrored a difference seen in 5'-mC between MLL-rearranged human leukemias that are either EVI1 positive or EVI1 negative. Finally, HSC-derived leukemias were more resistant to chemotherapy than GMP-derived leukemias. These data demonstrate that the cell of origin influences the gene expression profile, the epigenetic state and the drug response in AML, and that these differences can account for clinical heterogeneity within a molecularly defined group of leukemias.
Project description:Leukemias that harbor translocations involving the mixed lineage leukemia gene (MLL) possess unique biologic characteristics and often have an unfavorable prognosis. Gene expression analyses demonstrate a distinct profile for MLL-rearranged leukemias with consistent high-level expression of select Homeobox genes, including HOXA9. Here, we investigated the effects of HOXA9 suppression in MLL-rearranged and MLL-germline leukemias using RNA interference. Gene expression profiling after HOXA9 suppression demonstrated co-down-regulation of a program highly expressed in human MLL-AML and murine MLL-leukemia stem cells, including HOXA10, MEIS1, PBX3, and MEF2C. We demonstrate that HOXA9 depletion in 17 human AML/ALL cell lines (7 MLL-rearranged, 10 MLL-germline) induces proliferation arrest and apoptosis specifically in MLL-rearranged cells (P = .007). Similarly, assessment of primary AMLs demonstrated that HOXA9 suppression induces apoptosis to a greater extent in MLL-rearranged samples (P = .01). Moreover, mice transplanted with HOXA9-depleted t(4;11) SEMK2 cells revealed a significantly lower leukemia burden, thus identifying a role for HOXA9 in leukemia survival in vivo. Our data indicate an important role for HOXA9 in human MLL-rearranged leukemias and suggest that targeting HOXA9 or downstream programs may be a novel therapeutic option.
Project description:The histone 3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase Dot1l has been implicated in the development of leukemias bearing translocations of the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene. We identified the MLL-fusion targets in an MLL-AF9 leukemia model, and conducted epigenetic profiling for H3K79me2, H3K4me3, H3K27me3, and H3K36me3 in hematopoietic progenitor and leukemia stem cells (LSCs). We found abnormal profiles only for H3K79me2 on MLL-AF9 fusion target loci in LSCs. Inactivation of Dot1l led to downregulation of direct MLL-AF9 targets and an MLL translocation-associated gene expression signature, whereas global gene expression remained largely unaffected. Suppression of MLL translocation-associated gene expression corresponded with dependence of MLL-AF9 leukemia on Dot1l in vivo. These data point to DOT1L as a potential therapeutic target in MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Project description:Leukemias with MLL rearrangements are characterized by high expression of the homeobox gene MEIS1. In these studies, we knocked down Meis1 expression by shRNA lentivirus transduction in murine Mll-AF9 leukemia cells. Meis1 knockdown resulted in decreased proliferation and survival of murine Mll-AF9 leukemia cells. We also observed reduced clonogenic capacity and increased monocytic differentiation. The establishment of leukemia in transplantation recipients was significantly delayed by Meis1 knockdown. Gene expression profiling of cells transduced with Meis1 shRNA showed reduced expression of genes associated with cell cycle entry and progression. shRNA-mediated knockdown of MEIS1 in human MLL-fusion gene leukemia cell lines resulted in reduced cell growth. These results show that MEIS1 expression is important for MLL-rearranged leukemias and suggest that MEIS1 promotes cell-cycle entry. Targeting MEIS1 may have therapeutic potential for treating leukemias expressing this transcription factor.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs) with a rearrangement of the mixed-linage leukemia (MLL) gene are aggressive hematopoietic malignancies. Here, we explored the feasibility of using the H3K9- and H3K36-specific demethylases Jmjd2/Kdm4 as putative drug targets in MLL-AF9 translocated leukemia. Using Jmjd2a, Jmjd2b, and Jmjd2c conditional triple-knockout mice, we show that Jmjd2/Kdm4 activities are required for MLL-AF9 translocated AML in vivo and in vitro. We demonstrate that expression of the interleukin 3 receptor ? (Il3ra also known as Cd123) subunit is dependent on Jmjd2/Kdm4 through a mechanism involving removal of H3K9me3 from the promoter of the Il3ra gene. Importantly, ectopic expression of Il3ra in Jmjd2/Kdm4 knockout cells alleviates the requirement of Jmjd2/Kdm4 for the survival of AML cells, showing that Il3ra is a critical downstream target of Jmjd2/Kdm4 in leukemia. These results suggest that the JMJD2/KDM4 proteins are promising drug targets for the treatment of AML.
Project description:Genome editing provides a potential approach to model de novo leukemogenesis in primary human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) through induction of chromosomal translocations by targeted DNA double-strand breaks. However, very low efficiency of translocations and lack of markers for translocated cells serve as barriers to their characterization and model development. Here, we used transcription activator-like effector nucleases to generate t(9;11) chromosomal translocations encoding MLL-AF9 and reciprocal AF9-MLL fusion products in CD34+ human cord blood cells. Selected cytokine combinations enabled monoclonal outgrowth and immortalization of initially rare translocated cells, which were distinguished by elevated MLL target gene expression, high surface CD9 expression, and increased colony-forming ability. Subsequent transplantation into immune-compromised mice induced myeloid leukemias within 48 weeks, whose pathologic and molecular features extensively overlap with de novo patient MLL-rearranged leukemias. No secondary pathogenic mutations were revealed by targeted exome sequencing and whole genome RNA-sequencing analyses, suggesting the genetic sufficiency of t(9;11) translocation for leukemia development from human HSPCs. Thus, genome editing enables modeling of human acute MLL-rearranged leukemia in vivo, reflecting the genetic simplicity of this disease, and provides an experimental platform for biological and disease-modeling applications.
Project description:MLL-fusion proteins can induce acute myeloid leukemias (AML) from either hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) or granulocyte macrophage progenitors (GMP), but it remains unclear if the cell of origin influences the biology of the resultant leukemia. MLL-AF9 transduced single HSC or GMP could be continuously replated, but HSC-derived clones were more likely than GMP-derived clones to initiate AML in mice. Leukemia stem cells derived from either HSC or GMP had a similar immunophenotype consistent with a maturing myeloid cell (LGMP). Gene expression analyses demonstrated that LGMP inherited gene expression programs from the cell of origin including high-level Evi-1 expression in HSC derived LGMP. The gene expression signature of LGMP derived from HSC was enriched in poor prognosis human MLL-rearranged AML in three independent data sets. Moreover, global 5’-mC levels were elevated in HSC-derived leukemias as compared to GMP-derived leukemias. This mirrored a difference seen in 5-mC between MLL-rearranged human leukemias that are either EVI1-positive or EVI1-negative. Finally, HSC derived leukemias were more resistant to chemotherapy than GMP-derived leukemias. These data demonstrate that the cell of origin influences the gene expression profile, the epigenetic state, and the drug response in AML, and that these differences can account for clinical heterogeneity within a molecularly defined group of leukemias. Differential DNA methylation between of LSC isolated from murine HSC and GMP derived AMLs
Project description:Ectopic viral integration site-1 (EVI1) is highly expressed in certain cytogenetic subsets of adult acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), and has been associated with inferior survival. We sought to examine the clinical and biological associations of EVI1(high) , defined as expression in excess of normal controls, in paediatric AML. EVI1 mRNA expression was measured via quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction in diagnostic specimens obtained from 206 patients. Expression levels were correlated with clinical features and outcome. EVI1(high) was present in 58/206 (28%) patients. MLL rearrangements occurred in 40% of EVI1(high) patients as opposed to 12% of the EVI1(low/absent) patients (P < 0·001). No abnormalities of 3q26 were found in EVI1(high) patients by conventional cytogenetic analysis, nor were cryptic 3q26 abnormalities detected in a subset of patients screened by next-generation sequencing. French-American-British class M7 was enriched in the EVI1(high) group, accounting for 24% of these patients. EVI1(high) patients had significantly lower 5-year overall survival from study entry (51% vs. 68%, P = 0·015). However, in multivariate analysis including other established prognostic markers, EVI1 expression did not retain independent prognostic significance. EVI1 expression is currently being studied in a larger cohort of patients enrolled on subsequent Children's Oncology Group trials, to determine if EVI1(high) has prognostic value in MLL-rearranged or intermediate-risk subsets.
Project description:Chromosomal rearrangements involving the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene, also known as KMT2A, are often observed in human leukemias and are generally associated with a poor prognosis. To model these leukemias, we applied clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 gene editing to induce MLL chromosomal rearrangements in human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells purified from umbilical cord blood. Electroporation of ribonucleoprotein complexes containing chemically modified synthetic single guide RNAs and purified Cas9 protein induced translocations between chromosomes 9 and 11 [t(9;11)] at an efficiency >1%. Transplantation of gene-edited cells into immune-compromised mice rapidly induced acute leukemias of different lineages and often with multiclonal origins dictated by the duration of in vitro culture prior to transplantation. Breakpoint junction sequences served as biomarkers to monitor clonal selection and progression in culture and in vivo. High-dimensional cell surface and intracellular protein analysis by mass cytometry (CyTOF) revealed that gene-edited leukemias recapitulated disease-specific protein expression observed in human patients and showed that MLL-rearranged (MLLr) mixed phenotype acute leukemias (MPALs) were more similar to acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs) than to acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALLs). Therefore, highly efficient generation of MLL chromosomal translocations in primary human blood stem cells using CRISPR/Cas9 reliably models human acute MLLr leukemia and provides an experimental platform for basic and translational studies of leukemia biology and therapeutics.