Targeting oncogenic Ras signaling in hematologic malignancies.
ABSTRACT: Ras proteins are critical nodes in cellular signaling that integrate inputs from activated cell surface receptors and other stimuli to modulate cell fate through a complex network of effector pathways. Oncogenic RAS mutations are found in ?25% of human cancers and are highly prevalent in hematopoietic malignancies. Because of their structural and biochemical properties, oncogenic Ras proteins are exceedingly difficult targets for rational drug discovery, and no mechanism-based therapies exist for cancers with RAS mutations. This article reviews the properties of normal and oncogenic Ras proteins, the prevalence and likely pathogenic role of NRAS, KRAS, and NF1 mutations in hematopoietic malignancies, relevant animal models of these cancers, and implications for drug discovery. Because hematologic malignancies are experimentally tractable, they are especially valuable platforms for addressing the fundamental question of how to reverse the adverse biochemical output of oncogenic Ras in cancer.
Project description:Oncogenic NRAS and KRAS mutations are prevalent in human juvenile and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML/CMML). However, additional genetic mutations cooperating with oncogenic RAS in JMML/ CMML progression and/or their transformation to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remain largely unknown. Here we tested the potential genetic interaction of DNMT3A mutations and oncogenic RAS mutations in leukemogenesis. We found that Dnmt3a(-/-) induces multiple hematopoietic phenotypes after a prolonged latency, including T-cell expansion in the peripheral blood, stress erythropoiesis in the spleen and myeloid malignancies in the liver. Dnmt3a(-/-) significantly promoted JMML/CMML progression and shortened the survival of Kras(G12D/+) mice in a cell-autonomous manner. Similarly, downregulating Dnmt3a also promoted myeloid malignancies in Nras(G12D/+) mice. Further studies show that Dnmt3a deficiency rescues Kras(G12D/+)-mediated depletion of hematopoietic stem cells and increases self-renewal of Kras(G12D/+) myeloid progenitors (MPs). Moreover, ~33% of animals developed an AML-like disease, which is driven by Kras(G12D/+); Dnmt3a(-/-) MPs. Consistent with our result, COSMIC database mining demonstrates that the combination of oncogenic RAS and DNMT3A mutations exclusively occurred in patients with JMML, CMML or AML. Our results suggest that DNMT3A mutations and oncogenic RAS cooperate to regulate hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and promote myeloid malignancies.
Project description:NRAS is frequently mutated in hematologic malignancies. We generated Mx1-Cre, Lox-STOP-Lox (LSL)-Nras(G12D) mice to comprehensively analyze the phenotypic, cellular, and biochemical consequences of endogenous oncogenic Nras expression in hematopoietic cells. Here we show that Mx1-Cre, LSL-Nras(G12D) mice develop an indolent myeloproliferative disorder but ultimately die of a diverse spectrum of hematologic cancers. Expressing mutant Nras in hematopoietic tissues alters the distribution of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell populations, and Nras mutant progenitors show distinct responses to cytokine growth factors. Injecting Mx1-Cre, LSL-Nras(G12D) mice with the MOL4070LTR retrovirus causes acute myeloid leukemia that faithfully recapitulates many aspects of human NRAS-associated leukemias, including cooperation with deregulated Evi1 expression. The disease phenotype in Mx1-Cre, LSL-Nras(G12D) mice is attenuated compared with Mx1-Cre, LSL-Kras(G12D) mice, which die of aggressive myeloproliferative disorder by 4 months of age. We found that endogenous Kras(G12D) expression results in markedly elevated Ras protein expression and Ras-GTP levels in Mac1(+) cells, whereas Mx1-Cre, LSL-Nras(G12D) mice show much lower Ras protein and Ras-GTP levels. Together, these studies establish a robust and tractable system for interrogating the differential properties of oncogenic Ras proteins in primary cells, for identifying candidate cooperating genes, and for testing novel therapeutic strategies.
Project description:Defining how cancer-associated mutations perturb signaling networks in stem/progenitor populations that are integral to tumor formation and maintenance is a fundamental problem with biologic and clinical implications. Point mutations in RAS genes contribute to many cancers, including myeloid malignancies. We investigated the effects of an oncogenic Kras(G12D) allele on phosphorylated signaling molecules in primary c-kit(+) lin(-/low) hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. Comparison of wild-type and Kras(G12D) c-kit(+) lin(-/low) cells shows that K-Ras(G12D) expression causes hyperproliferation in vivo and results in abnormal levels of phosphorylated STAT5, ERK, and S6 under basal and stimulated conditions. Whereas Kras(G12D) cells demonstrate hyperactive signaling after exposure to granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, we unexpectedly observe a paradoxical attenuation of ERK and S6 phosphorylation in response to stem cell factor. These studies provide direct biochemical evidence that cancer stem/progenitor cells remodel signaling networks in response to oncogenic stress and demonstrate that multi-parameter flow cytometry can be used to monitor the effects of targeted therapeutics in vivo. This strategy has broad implications for defining the architecture of signaling networks in primary cancer cells and for implementing stem cell-targeted interventions.
Project description:Transforming mutations in NRAS and KRAS are thought to play a causative role in the development of numerous cancers, including myeloid malignancies. Although mutations at amino acids 12, 13, or 61 account for the majority of oncogenic Ras variants, we hypothesized that less frequent mutations at alternate residues may account for disease in some patients with cancer of unexplained genetic etiology. To search for additional, novel RAS mutations, we sequenced all coding exons in NRAS, KRAS, and HRAS in 329 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, 32 chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) patients, and 96 healthy individuals. We detected 4 "noncanonical" point mutations in 7 patients: N-Ras(G60E), K-Ras(V14I), K-Ras(T74P), and K-Ras(A146T). All 4 Ras mutants exhibited oncogenic properties in comparison with wild-type Ras in biochemical and functional assays. The presence of transforming RAS mutations outside of positions 12, 13, and 61 reveals that alternate mechanisms of transformation by RAS may be overlooked in screens designed to detect only the most common RAS mutations. Our results suggest that RAS mutations may play a greater role in leukemogenesis than currently believed and indicate that high-throughput screening for mutant RAS alleles in cancer should include analysis of the entire RAS coding region.
Project description:Considerable advances have been made in our understanding of the molecular basis of hematopoietic cancers. The discovery of the BCR-ABL fusion protein over 50 years ago has brought about a new era of therapeutic progress and overall improvement in patient care, mainly due to the development and use of personalized medicine and tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). However, since the detection of BCR-ABL, BCR has been identified as a commonly occurring fusion partner in hematopoietic disorders. BCR has been discovered fused to additional tyrosine kinases, including: Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 1 (FGFR1), Platelet-derived Growth Factor Receptor Alpha (PDGFRA), Ret Proto-Oncogene (RET), and Janus Kinase 2 (JAK2). While BCR translocations are infrequent in hematopoietic malignancies, clinical evidence suggests that patients who harbor these mutations benefit from TKIs and additional personalized therapies. The improvement of further methodologies for characterization of these fusions is crucial to determine a patient's treatment regimen, and optimal outcome. However, potential relapse and drug resistance among patients' highlights the need for additional treatment options and further understanding of these oncogenic fusion proteins. This review explores the mechanisms behind cancer progression of these BCR oncogenic fusion proteins, comparing their similarities and differences, examining the significance of BCR as a partner gene, and discussing current treatment options for these translocation-induced hematopoietic malignancies.
Project description:The polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) plays an oncogenic role in several cancers. However, loss-of-function mutations in PRC2 components have been detected in a subset of hematopoietic malignancies, suggesting that different epigenetic landscapes are required in different tumor types. In this study we provide genomic, cellular, and mouse modeling data to demonstrate that loss-of-function mutations in the polycomb gene, SUZ12, and NF1 cooperate in peripheral nervous system tumors, glioblastomas, and melanomas. NF1 encodes a Ras GTPase-activating protein and its loss triggers moderate levels of Ras activation. We show that SUZ12-loss enhances the effects of NF1 mutations, in part, by amplifying Ras transcriptional signatures. Moreover, SUZ12-loss triggers an epigenetic switch that confers sensitivity to combined bromodomain and MEK inhibitors in vivo. Collectively these studies demonstrate an unexpected role for polycomb group genes in NF1 mutant tumors and reveal an epigenetic-based therapeutic strategy that may be exploited for a variety of cancers. 9 samples in triplicates, 3x LacZ control, 3x SUZ12 over expression, 3x JQ1 treatment
Project description:Exposure to ionizing radiation and other DNA-damaging carcinogens is strongly associated with induction of malignancies. Prevailing paradigms attribute this association to the induction of oncogenic mutations, as the incidence of oncogenic events is thought to limit initiation and progression of cancers. On the other hand, random mutagenic and genotoxic effects of irradiation are likely to alter progenitor cell populations and the microenvironment, thus altering the selective effects of oncogenic mutations. Using competitive bone marrow transplantation experiments in mice, we show that ionizing irradiation leads to a persistent decline in the numbers and fitness of hematopoietic stem cells, in part resulting from persistent induction of reactive oxygen species. Previous irradiation dramatically alters the selective effects of some oncogenic mutations, substantially inhibiting clonal expansion and leukemogenesis driven by Bcr-Abl or activated N-Ras oncogenes but enhancing the selection for and leukemogenesis driven by the activated Notch1 mutant ICN. Irradiation-dependent selection for ICN expression occurs in a hematopoietic stem cell-enriched pool, which should facilitate the accumulation of additional oncogenic events at a committed T-progenitor stage critical for formation of T-lymphocytic leukemia stem cells. Enhancement of ICN-driven selection and leukemogenesis by previous irradiation is in part non-cell autonomous, as partial restoration of normal hematopoiesis can reverse these effects of irradiation. These studies show that irradiation substantially alters the adaptive landscape in hematopoietic progenitors and suggest that the causal link between irradiation and carcinogenesis might involve increased selection for particular oncogenic mutations.
Project description:The palmitoylation/depalmitoylation cycle of posttranslational processing is a potential therapeutic target for selectively inhibiting the growth of hematologic cancers with somatic NRAS mutations. To investigate this question at the single-cell level, we constructed murine stem cell virus vectors and assayed the growth of myeloid progenitors. Whereas cells expressing oncogenic N-Ras(G12D) formed cytokine-independent colonies and were hypersensitive to GM-CSF, mutations within the N-Ras hypervariable region induced N-Ras mislocalization and attenuated aberrant progenitor growth. Exposing transduced hematopoietic cells and bone marrow from Nras and Kras mutant mice to the acyl protein thioesterase inhibitor palmostatin B had similar effects on protein localization and colony growth. Importantly, palmostatin B-mediated inhibition was selective for Nras mutant cells, and we mapped this activity to the hypervariable region. These data support the clinical development of depalmitoylation inhibitors as a novel class of rational therapeutics in hematologic malignancies with NRAS mutations.
Project description:T cell cancer neoantigens are created from peptides derived from cancer-specific aberrant proteins, such as mutated and fusion proteins, presented in complex with human leukocyte antigens on the cancer cell surface. Because expression of the aberrant target protein is exclusive to malignant cells, immunotherapy directed against neoantigens should avoid "on-target, off-tumor" toxicity. The efficacy of neoantigen vaccines in melanoma and glioblastoma and of adoptive transfer of neoantigen-specific T cells in epithelial tumors indicates that neoantigens are valid therapeutic targets. Improvements in sequencing technology and innovations in antigen discovery approaches have facilitated the identification of neoantigens. In comparison to many solid tumors, hematologic malignancies have few mutations and thus fewer potential neoantigens. Despite this, neoantigens have been identified in a wide variety of hematologic malignancies. These include mutated nucleophosmin1 and PML-RARA in acute myeloid leukemia, ETV6-RUNX1 fusions and other mutated proteins in acute lymphoblastic leukemia, BCR-ABL1 fusions in chronic myeloid leukemia, driver mutations in myeloproliferative neoplasms, immunoglobulins in lymphomas, and proteins derived from patient-specific mutations in chronic lymphoid leukemias. We will review advances in the field of neoantigen discovery, describe the spectrum of identified neoantigens in hematologic malignancies, and discuss the potential of these neoantigens for clinical translation.
Project description:Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription (STAT) 3 and 5 are important effectors of cellular transformation, and aberrant STAT3 and STAT5 signaling have been demonstrated in hematopoietic cancers. STAT3 and STAT5 are common targets for different tyrosine kinase oncogenes (TKOs). In addition, STAT3 and STAT5 proteins were shown to contain activating mutations in some rare but aggressive leukemias/lymphomas. Both proteins also contribute to drug resistance in hematopoietic malignancies and are now well recognized as major targets in cancer treatment. The development of inhibitors targeting STAT3 and STAT5 has been the subject of intense investigations during the last decade. This review summarizes the current knowledge of oncogenic STAT3 and STAT5 functions in hematopoietic cancers as well as advances in preclinical and clinical development of pharmacological inhibitors.