Targeting abnormal DNA double-strand break repair in tyrosine kinase inhibitor-resistant chronic myeloid leukemias.
ABSTRACT: Resistance to imatinib (IM) and other tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI)s is an increasing problem in leukemias caused by expression of BCR-ABL1. As chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) cell lines expressing BCR-ABL1 utilize an alternative non-homologous end-joining pathway (ALT NHEJ) to repair DNA double-strand breaks (DSB)s, we asked whether this repair pathway is a novel therapeutic target in TKI-resistant disease. Notably, the steady state levels of two ALT NHEJ proteins, poly-(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) and DNA ligase III?, were increased in the BCR-ABL1-positive CML cell line K562 and, to a greater extent, in its imatinib-resistant (IMR) derivative. Incubation of these cell lines with a combination of DNA ligase and PARP inhibitors inhibited ALT NHEJ and selectively decreased survival with the effect being greater in the IMR derivative. Similar results were obtained with TKI-resistant derivatives of two hematopoietic cell lines that had been engineered to stably express BCR-ABL1. Together our results show that the sensitivity of cell lines expressing BCR-ABL1 to the combination of DNA ligase and PARP inhibitors correlates with the steady state levels of PARP1 and DNA ligase III?, and ALT NHEJ activity. Importantly, analysis of clinical samples from CML patients confirmed that the expression levels of PARP1 and DNA ligase III? correlated with the sensitivity to the DNA repair inhibitor combination. Thus, the expression levels of PARP1 and DNA ligase III? serve as biomarkers to identify a subgroup of CML patients who may be candidates for therapies that target the ALT NHEJ pathway when treatment with TKIs has failed.
Project description:Leukemias expressing the constitutively activated tyrosine kinases (TK) BCR-ABL1 and FLT3/ITD activate signaling pathways that increase genomic instability through generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), DNA double-strand breaks (DSB), and error-prone repair. The nonhomologous end-joining (NHEJ) pathway is a major pathway for DSB repair and is highly aberrant in TK-activated leukemias; an alternative form of NHEJ (ALT-NHEJ) predominates, evidenced by increased expression of DNA ligase III? (LIG3) and PARP1, increased frequency of large genomic deletions, and repair using DNA sequence microhomologies. This study, for the first time, demonstrates that the TK target c-MYC plays a role in transcriptional activation and subsequent expression of LIG3 and PARP1 and contributes to the increased error-prone repair observed in TK-activated leukemias. c-MYC negatively regulates microRNAs miR-150 and miR-22, which demonstrate an inverse correlation with LIG3 and PARP1 expression in primary and cultured leukemia cells and chronic myelogenous leukemia human patient samples. Notably, inhibition of c-MYC and overexpression of miR-150 and -22 decreases ALT-NHEJ activity. Thus, BCR-ABL1 or FLT3/ITD induces c-MYC expression, leading to genomic instability via augmented expression of ALT-NHEJ repair factors that generate repair errors.In the context of TK-activated leukemias, c-MYC contributes to aberrant DNA repair through downstream targets LIG3 and PARP1, which represent viable and attractive therapeutic targets.
Project description:BCR-ABL1 gene fusion associated with additional DNA lesions involves the pathogenesis of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) from a chronic phase (CP) to a blast crisis of B lymphoid (CML-LBC) lineage and BCR-ABL1<sup>+</sup> acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCR-ABL1<sup>+</sup> ALL). The recombination-activating gene RAG1 and RAG2 (collectively, RAG) proteins that assemble a diverse set of antigen receptor genes during lymphocyte development are abnormally expressed in CML-LBC and BCR-ABL1<sup>+</sup> ALL. However, the direct involvement of dysregulated RAG in disease progression remains unclear. Here, we generate human wild-type (WT) RAG and catalytically inactive RAG-expressing BCR-ABL1<sup>+</sup> and BCR-ABL1<sup>-</sup> cell lines, respectively, and demonstrate that BCR-ABL1 specifically collaborates with RAG recombinase to promote cell survival in vitro and in xenograft mice models. WT RAG-expressing BCR-ABL1<sup>+</sup> cell lines and primary CD34<sup>+</sup> bone marrow cells from CML-LBC samples maintain more double-strand breaks (DSB) compared to catalytically inactive RAG-expressing BCR-ABL1<sup>+</sup> cell lines and RAG-deficient CML-CP samples, which are measured by γ-H2AX. WT RAG-expressing BCR-ABL1<sup>+</sup> cells are biased to repair RAG-mediated DSB by the alternative non-homologous end joining pathway (a-NHEJ), which could contribute genomic instability through increasing the expression of a-NHEJ-related MRE11 and RAD50 proteins. As a result, RAG-expressing BCR-ABL1<sup>+</sup> cells decrease sensitivity to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) by activating BCR-ABL1 signaling but independent of the levels of BCR-ABL1 expression and mutations in the BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase domain. These findings identify a surprising and novel role of RAG in the functional specialization of disease progression in BCR-ABL1<sup>+</sup> leukemia through its endonuclease activity.
Project description:<h4>Purpose</h4>Approximately 1-2% of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients harbor atypical BCR-ABL1 transcripts that cannot be monitored by real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) using standard methodologies. Within the European Treatment and Outcome Study (EUTOS) for CML we established and validated robust RT-qPCR methods for these patients.<h4>Methods</h4>BCR-ABL1 transcripts were amplified and sequenced to characterize the underlying fusion. Residual disease monitoring was carried out by RT-qPCR with specific primers and probes using serial dilutions of appropriate BCR-ABL1 and GUSB plasmid DNA calibrators. Results were expressed as log reduction of the BCR-ABL1/GUSB ratio relative to the patient-specific baseline value and evaluated as an individual molecular response (IMR).<h4>Results</h4>In total, 330 blood samples (2-34 per patient, median 8) from 33 CML patients (19 male, median age 62 years) were analyzed. Patients expressed seven different atypical BCR-ABL1 transcripts (e1a2, n = 6; e6a2, n = 1; e8a2, n = 2; e13a3, n = 4; e14a3, n = 6; e13a3/e14a3, n = 2; e19a2, n = 12). Most patients (61%) responded well to TKI therapy and achieved an IMR of at least one log reduction 3 months after diagnosis. Four patients relapsed with a significant increase of BCR-ABL1/GUSB ratios.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Characterization of atypical BCR-ABL1 transcripts is essential for adequate patient monitoring and to avoid false-negative results. The results cannot be expressed on the International Scale (IS) and thus the common molecular milestones and guidelines for treatment are difficult to apply. We, therefore, suggest reporting IMR levels in these cases as a time-dependent log reduction of BCR-ABL1 transcript levels compared to baseline prior to therapy.
Project description:Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) revolutionized the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CML-CP). Unfortunately, 25% of TKI-naive patients and 50-90% of patients developing TKI-resistance carry CML clones expressing TKI-resistant BCR-ABL1 kinase mutants. We reported that CML-CP leukemia stem and progenitor cell populations accumulate high amounts of reactive oxygen species, which may result in accumulation of uracil derivatives in genomic DNA. Unfaithful and/or inefficient repair of these lesions generates TKI-resistant point mutations in BCR-ABL1 kinase. Using an array of specific substrates and inhibitors/blocking antibodies we found that uracil DNA glycosylase UNG2 were inhibited in BCR-ABL1-transformed cell lines and CD34(+) CML cells. The inhibitory effect was not accompanied by downregulation of nuclear expression and/or chromatin association of UNG2. The effect was BCR-ABL1 kinase-specific because several other fusion tyrosine kinases did not reduce UNG2 activity. Using UNG2-specific inhibitor UGI, we found that reduction of UNG2 activity increased the number of uracil derivatives in genomic DNA detected by modified comet assay and facilitated accumulation of ouabain-resistant point mutations in reporter gene Na(+)/K(+)ATPase. In conclusion, we postulate that BCR-ABL1 kinase-mediated inhibition of UNG2 contributes to accumulation of point mutations responsible for TKI resistance causing the disease relapse, and perhaps also other point mutations facilitating malignant progression of CML.
Project description:Genomic instability is a hallmark of chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CML-CP) resulting in BCR-ABL1 mutations encoding resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) and/or additional chromosomal aberrations leading to disease relapse and/or malignant progression. TKI-naive and TKI-treated leukemia stem cells (LSCs) and leukemia progenitor cells (LPCs) accumulate high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative DNA damage. To determine the role of TKI-refractory LSCs in genomic instability, we used a murine model of CML-CP where ROS-induced oxidative DNA damage was elevated in LSCs, including quiescent LSCs, but not in LPCs. ROS-induced oxidative DNA damage in LSCs caused clinically relevant genomic instability in CML-CP-like mice, such as TKI-resistant BCR-ABL1 mutations (E255K, T315I, H396P), deletions in Ikzf1 and Trp53, and additions in Zfp423 and Idh1. Despite inhibition of BCR-ABL1 kinase, imatinib did not downregulate ROS and oxidative DNA damage in TKI-refractory LSCs to the levels detected in normal cells, and CML-CP-like mice treated with imatinib continued to accumulate clinically relevant genetic aberrations. Inhibition of class I p21-activated protein kinases by IPA3 downregulated ROS in TKI-naive and TKI-treated LSCs. Altogether, we postulate that genomic instability may originate in the most primitive TKI-refractory LSCs in TKI-naive and TKI-treated patients.
Project description:Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative disease caused by the BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase (TK). The development of TK inhibitors (TKIs) revolutionized the treatment of CML patients. However, TKIs are not effective to those at advanced phases when amplified BCR-ABL1 levels and increased genomic instability lead to secondary oncogenic modifications. Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP) is an important regulator of signaling transduction in hematopoietic cells and was shown to be an endogenous inhibitor of the c-ABL TK. Here, we show that the expression of WASP decreases with the progression of CML, inversely correlates with the expression of BCR-ABL1 and is particularly low in blast crisis. Enforced expression of BCR-ABL1 negatively regulates the expression of WASP. Decreased expression of WASP is partially due to DNA methylation of the proximal WASP promoter. Importantly, lower levels of WASP in CML advanced phase patients correlate with poorer overall survival (OS) and is associated with TKI response. Interestingly, enforced expression of WASP in BCR-ABL1-positive K562 cells increases the susceptibility to apoptosis induced by TRAIL or chemotherapeutic drugs and negatively modulates BCR-ABL1-induced tumorigenesis in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, our data reveal a novel molecular mechanism that operates in BCR-ABL1-induced tumorigenesis that can be used to develop new strategies to help TKI-resistant, CML patients in blast crisis (BC).
Project description:The success of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in treating chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) depends on the requirement for BCR-ABL1 kinase activity in CML progenitors. However, CML quiescent HSCs are TKI resistant and represent a BCR-ABL1 kinase-independent disease reservoir. Here we have shown that persistence of leukemic HSCs in BM requires inhibition of the tumor suppressor protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) and expression--but not activity--of the BCR-ABL1 oncogene. Examination of HSCs from CML patients and healthy individuals revealed that PP2A activity was suppressed in CML compared with normal HSCs. TKI-resistant CML quiescent HSCs showed increased levels of BCR-ABL1, but very low kinase activity. BCR-ABL1 expression, but not kinase function, was required for recruitment of JAK2, activation of a JAK2/?-catenin survival/self-renewal pathway, and inhibition of PP2A. PP2A-activating drugs (PADs) markedly reduced survival and self-renewal of CML quiescent HSCs, but not normal quiescent HSCs, through BCR-ABL1 kinase-independent and PP2A-mediated inhibition of JAK2 and ?-catenin. This led to suppression of human leukemic, but not normal, HSC/progenitor survival in BM xenografts and interference with long-term maintenance of BCR-ABL1-positive HSCs in serial transplantation assays. Targeting the JAK2/PP2A/?-catenin network in quiescent HSCs with PADs (e.g., FTY720) has the potential to treat TKI-refractory CML and relieve lifelong patient dependence on TKIs.
Project description:Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a malignancy of the myeloid cell lineage characterized by a recurrent chromosomal abnormality: the Philadelphia chromosome, which results from the reciprocal translocation of the chromosomes 9 and 22. The Philadelphia chromosome contains a fusion gene called BCR-ABL1. The BCR-ABL1 codes for an aberrantly functioning tyrosine kinase that drives the malignant proliferation of the founding clone. The advent of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) represents a landmark in the treatment of CML, that has led to tremendous improvement in the remission and survival rates. Since the introduction of imatinib, the first TKI, several other TKI have been approved that further broadened the arsenal against CML. Patients treated with TKIs require sensitive monitoring of BCR-ABL1 transcripts with quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCT), which has become an essential part of managing patients with CML. In this review, we discuss the importance of the BCR-ABL1 assay, and we highlight the growing importance of BCR-ABL1 dynamics. We also introduce a mathematical correction for the BCR-ABL1 assay that could help homogenizing the use of the ABL1 as a control gene. Finally, we discuss the growing body of evidence concerning treatment-free remission. Along with the continuous improvement in the therapeutic arsenal against CML, the molecular monitoring of CML represents the avant-garde in the struggle to make CML a curable disease.
Project description:Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) are the mainstay treatment of BCR-ABL1-positive leukemia and virtually all patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CP CML) respond to TKI therapy. However, there is limited information on the cellular mechanisms of response and particularly on the effect of cell differentiation state to TKI sensitivity in vivo and ex vivo/in vitro. We used multiple, independent high-throughput drug sensitivity and resistance testing platforms that collectively evaluated 295 oncology compounds to characterize ex vivo drug response profiles of primary cells freshly collected from newly-diagnosed patients with BCR-ABL1-positive leukemia (n = 40) and healthy controls (n = 12). In contrast to the highly TKI-sensitive cells from blast phase CML and Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia, primary CP CML cells were insensitive to TKI therapy ex vivo. Despite maintaining potent BCR-ABL1 inhibitory activity, ex vivo viability of cells was unaffected by TKIs. These findings were validated in two independent patient cohorts and analysis platforms. All CP CML patients under study responded to TKI therapy in vivo. When CP CML cells were sorted based on CD34 expression, the CD34-positive progenitor cells showed good sensitivity to TKIs, whereas the more mature CD34-negative cells were markedly less sensitive. Thus in CP CML, TKIs predominantly target the progenitor cell population while the differentiated leukemic cells (mostly cells from granulocytic series) are insensitive to BCR-ABL1 inhibition. These findings have implications for drug discovery in CP CML and indicate a fundamental biological difference between CP CML and advanced forms of BCR-ABL1-positive leukemia.
Project description:The use of small molecules became one key cornerstone of targeted anti-cancer therapy. Among them, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are especially important, as they were the first molecules to proof the concept of targeted anti-cancer treatment. Since 2001, TKIs can be successfully used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). CML is a hematologic neoplasm, predominantly caused by reciprocal translocation t(9;22)(q34;q11) leading to formation of the so-called BCR-ABL1 fusion gene. By binding to the BCR-ABL1 kinase and inhibition of downstream target phosphorylation, TKIs, such as imatinib or nilotinib, can be used as single agents to treat CML patients resulting in 80 % 10-year survival rates. However, treatment failure can be observed in 20-25 % of CML patients occurring either dependent or independent from the BCR-ABL1 kinase. Here, we review approved TKIs that are indicated for the treatment of CML, their side effects and limitations. We point out mechanisms of TKI resistance focusing either on BCR-ABL1-dependent mechanisms by summarizing the clinically observed BCR-ABL1-mutations and their implications on TKI binding, as well as on BCR-ABL1-independent mechanisms of resistances. For the latter, we discuss potential mechanisms, among them cytochrome P450 implications, drug efflux transporter variants and expression, microRNA deregulation, as well as the role of alternative signaling pathways. Further, we give insights on how TKI resistance could be analyzed and what could be learned from studying TKI resistance in CML <i>in vitro</i>.