Reprogramming of MLL-AF9 leukemia cells into pluripotent stem cells.
ABSTRACT: The 'Yamanaka factors' (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc) are able to generate induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from different cell types. However, to what degree primary malignant cells can be reprogrammed into a pluripotent state has not been vigorously assessed. We established an acute myeloid leukemia (AML) model by overexpressing the human mixed-lineage leukemia-AF9 (MLL-AF9) fusion gene in mouse hematopoietic cells that carry Yamanaka factors under the control of doxycycline (Dox). On addition of Dox to the culture, the transplantable leukemia cells were efficiently converted into iPS cells that could form teratomas and produce chimeras. Interestingly, most chimeric mice spontaneously developed the same type of AML. Moreover, both iPS reprogramming and leukemia reinitiation paths could descend from the same leukemia-initiating cell. RNA-seq analysis showed reversible global gene expression patterns between these interchangeable leukemia and iPS cells on activation or reactivation of MLL-AF9, suggesting a sufficient epigenetic force in driving the leukemogenic process. This study represents an important step for further defining the potential interplay between oncogenic molecules and reprogramming factors during MLL leukemogenesis. More importantly, our reprogramming approach may be expanded to characterize a range of hematopoietic malignancies in order to develop new strategies for clinical diagnosis and treatment.
Project description:Rearrangement of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL; also known as lysine methyltransferase 2A) gene is a recurrent genomic aberration in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). MLLT3, super elongation complex subunit (AF9) is one of the most common MLL fusion partners in AML. The present study aimed to explore the aberrant expression of genes associated with the MLL?AF9 translocation and identified potential new targets for the therapy of AML with MLL?AF9 translocation. The transcriptomic and epigenetic datasets were downloaded from National Center of Biotechnology Information Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database. Differentially expressed genes were obtained from two independent datasets (GSE68643 and GSE73457). Gene Ontology biological process and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway enrichment analysis was performed using the Database for Annotation, Visualization and Integrated Discovery. MLL?AF9?associated chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP?Seq) data was analyzed and identified binding sites for MLL?AF9 and wild type MLL (MLL WT). The ChIP?Seq of histone modification data was downloaded from the GEO database, including histone 3 lysine 4 trimethylation (H3K4me3), histone 3 lysine 79 dimethylation (H3K79me2) and histone 3 lysine 27 acetylation (H3K27ac), was used for comparing histone modification marks between the MLL?AF9 leukemia cells and normal hematopoietic cells at MLL?AF9 and MLL WT binding sites. The differentially expressed genes with the same trend in H3K79me2, H3K27ac and H3K4me3 alteration were identified as potential MLL?AF9 direct target genes. Upon validation using RNA?Seq data from the Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments AML project, eight potential direct target genes of MLL?AF9 were identified and further confirmed in MLL?AF9 mouse model using reverse transcription?quantitative polymerase chain reaction. These genes may have a critical role in AML with MLL?AF9 translocation.
Project description:MLL-rearranged acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains a fatal disease with a high rate of relapse and therapeutic failure due to chemotherapy resistance. In analysis of our Affymetrix microarray profiling and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays, we found that ALOX5 is especially down-regulated in MLL-rearranged AML, via transcription repression mediated by Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). Colony forming/replating and bone marrow transplantation (BMT) assays showed that Alox5 exhibited a moderate anti-tumor effect both in vitro and in vivo. Strikingly, leukemic cells with Alox5 overexpression showed a significantly higher sensitivity to the standard chemotherapeutic agents, i.e., doxorubicin (DOX) and cytarabine (Ara-C). The drug-sensitizing role of Alox5 was further confirmed in human and murine MLL-rearranged AML cell models in vitro, as well as in the in vivo MLL-rearranged AML BMT model coupled with treatment of "5?+?3" (i.e. DOX plus Ara-C) regimen. Stat and K-Ras signaling pathways were negatively correlated with Alox5 overexpression in MLL-AF9-leukemic blast cells; inhibition of the above signaling pathways mimicked the drug-sensitizing effect of ALOX5 in AML cells. Collectively, our work shows that ALOX5 plays a moderate anti-tumor role and functions as a drug sensitizer, with a therapeutic potential, in MLL-rearranged AML.
Project description:Eradication of leukemia stem cells (LSCs) is the ultimate goal of treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We recently showed that the combined loss of Runx1/Cbfb inhibited the development of MLL-AF9-induced AML. However, c-Kit+/Gr-1- cells remained viable in Runx1/Cbfb-deleted cells, indicating that suppressing RUNX activity may not eradicate the most immature LSCs. In this study, we found upregulation of several hemostasis-related genes, including the thrombin-activatable receptor PAR-1 (protease-activated receptor-1), in Runx1/Cbfb-deleted MLL-AF9 cells. Similar to the effect of Runx1/Cbfb deletion, PAR-1 overexpression induced CDKN1A/p21 expression and attenuated proliferation in MLL-AF9 cells. To our surprise, PAR-1 deficiency also prevented leukemia development induced by a small number of MLL-AF9 leukemia stem cells (LSCs) in vivo. PAR-1 deficiency also reduced leukemogenicity of AML1-ETO-induced leukemia. Re-expression of PAR-1 in PAR-1-deficient cells combined with a limiting-dilution transplantation assay demonstrated the cell-dose-dependent role of PAR-1 in MLL-AF9 leukemia: PAR-1 inhibited rapid leukemic proliferation when there were a large number of LSCs, while a small number of LSCs required PAR-1 for their efficient growth. Mechanistically, PAR-1 increased the adherence properties of MLL-AF9 cells and promoted their engraftment to bone marrow. Taken together, these data revealed a multifaceted role for PAR-1 in leukemogenesis, and highlight this receptor as a potential target to eradicate primitive LSCs in AML.
Project description:All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) is well established as differentiation therapy for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) in which the PML-RAR? (promyelocytic leukemia-retinoic acid receptor ?) fusion protein causes blockade of the retinoic acid (RA) pathway; however, in types of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) other than APL, the mechanism of RA pathway inactivation is not fully understood. This study revealed the potential mechanism of high ATRA sensitivity of mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL)-AF9-positive AML compared with MLL-AF4/5q31-positive AML. Treatment with ATRA induced significant myeloid differentiation accompanied by upregulation of RAR?, C/EBP?, C/EBP? and PU.1 in MLL-AF9-positive but not in MLL-AF4/5q31-positive cells. Combining ATRA with cytarabine had a synergistic antileukemic effect in MLL-AF9-positive cells in vitro. The level of dimethyl histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4me2) in the RAR? gene-promoter region, PU.1 upstream regulatory region (URE) and RUNX1+24/+25 intronic enhancer was higher in MLL-AF9-positive cells than in MLL-AF4-positive cells, and inhibiting lysine-specific demethylase 1, which acts as a histone demethylase inhibitor, reactivated ATRA sensitivity in MLL-AF4-positive cells. These findings suggest that the level of H3K4me2 in the RAR? gene-promoter region, PU.1 URE and RUNX1 intronic enhancer is determined by the MLL-fusion partner. Our findings provide insight into the mechanisms of ATRA sensitivity in AML and novel treatment strategies for ATRA-resistant AML.
Project description:Human leukemias harboring chromosomal translocations involving the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL, HRX, ALL-1) gene possess high-level expression, and frequent activating mutations of the receptor tyrosine kinase FLT3. We used a murine bone marrow transplant model to assess cooperation between MLL translocation and FLT3 activation. We demonstrate that MLL-AF9 expression induces acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in approximately 70 days, whereas the combination of MLL-AF9 and FLT3-ITD does so in less than 30 days. Secondary transplantation of splenic cells from diseased mice established that leukemia stem cells are present at a very high frequency of approximately 1:100 in both diseases. Importantly, prospectively isolated granulocyte macrophage progenitors (GMPs) coinfected with MLL-AF9 and FLT3-ITD give rise to a similar AML, with shorter latency than from GMP transduced with MLL-AF9 alone. Cooperation between MLL-AF9 and FLT3-ITD was further verified by real-time assessment of leukemogenesis using noninvasive bioluminescence imaging. We used this model to demonstrate that MLL-AF9/FLT3-ITD-induced leukemias are sensitive to FLT3 inhibition in a 2-3 week in vivo assay. These data show that activated FLT3 cooperates with MLL-AF9 to accelerate onset of an AML from whole bone marrow as well as a committed hematopoietic progenitor, and provide a new genetically defined model system that should prove useful for rapid assessment of potential therapeutics in vivo.
Project description:Metabolic reprogramming of leukemia cells is important for survival, proliferation, and drug resistance under conditions of metabolic stress in the bone marrow. Deregulation of cellular metabolism, leading to development of leukemia, occurs through abnormally high expression of transcription factors such as MYC and Ecotropic Virus Integration site 1 protein homolog (EVI1). Overexpression of EVI1 in adults and children with mixed lineage leukemia-rearrangement acute myeloid leukemia (MLL-r AML) has a very poor prognosis. To identify a metabolic inhibitor for EVI1-induced metabolic reprogramming in MLL-r AML, we used an XFp extracellular flux analyzer to examine metabolic changes during leukemia development in mouse models of AML expressing MLL-AF9 and Evi1 (Evi1/MF9). Oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) in Evi1/MF9 AML cells accelerated prior to activation of glycolysis, with a higher dependency on glutamine as an energy source. Furthermore, EVI1 played a role in glycolysis as well as driving production of metabolites in the tricarboxylic acid cycle. L-asparaginase (L-asp) exacerbated growth inhibition induced by glutamine starvation and suppressed OXPHOS and proliferation of Evi1/MF9 both in vitro and in vivo; high sensitivity to L-asp was caused by low expression of asparagine synthetase (ASNS) and L-asp-induced suppression of glutamine metabolism. In addition, samples from patients with EVI1+MF9 showed low ASNS expression, suggesting that it is a sensitive marker of L-asp treatment. Clarification of metabolic reprogramming in EVI1+ leukemia cells may aid development of treatments for EVI1+MF9 refractory leukemia.
Project description:Patients with a t(9;11) translocation (MLL-AF9) develop acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and while in mice the expression of this fusion oncogene also results in the development of myeloid leukemia, it is with long latency. To identify mutations that cooperate with Mll-AF9, we infected neonatal wild-type (WT) or Mll-AF9 mice with a murine leukemia virus (MuLV). MuLV-infected Mll-AF9 mice succumbed to disease significantly faster than controls presenting predominantly with myeloid leukemia while infected WT animals developed predominantly lymphoid leukemia. We identified 88 candidate cancer genes near common sites of proviral insertion. Analysis of transcript levels revealed significantly elevated expression of Mn1, and a trend toward increased expression of Bcl11a and Fosb in Mll-AF9 murine leukemia samples with proviral insertions proximal to these genes. Accordingly, FOSB and BCL11A were also overexpressed in human AML harboring MLL gene translocations. FOSB was revealed to be essential for growth in mouse and human myeloid leukemia cells using shRNA lentiviral vectors in vitro. Importantly, MN1 cooperated with Mll-AF9 in leukemogenesis in an in vivo BM viral transduction and transplantation assay. Together, our data identified genes that define transcription factor networks and important genetic pathways acting during progression of leukemia induced by MLL fusion oncogenes.
Project description: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:PTPN11 encodes the Shp2 non-receptor protein-tyrosine phosphatase implicated in several signaling pathways. Activating mutations in Shp2 are commonly associated with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia but are not as well defined in other neoplasms. Here we report that Shp2 mutations occur in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at a rate of 6.6% (6/91) in the ECOG E1900 data set. We examined the role of mutated Shp2 in leukemias harboring MLL translocations, which co-occur in human AML. The hyperactive Shp2E76K mutant, commonly observed in leukemia patients, significantly accelerated MLL-AF9-mediated leukemogenesis in vivo. Shp2E76K increased leukemic stem cell frequency and affords MLL-AF9 leukemic cells IL3 cytokine hypersensitivity. As Shp2 is reported to regulate anti-apoptotic genes, we investigated Bcl2, Bcl-xL and Mcl1 expression in MLL-AF9 leukemic cells with and without Shp2E76K. Although the Bcl2 family of genes was upregulated in Shp2E76K cells, Mcl1 showed the highest upregulation in MLL-AF9 cells in response to Shp2E76K. Indeed, expression of Mcl1 in MLL-AF9 cells phenocopies expression of Shp2E76K, suggesting Shp2 mutations cooperate through activation of anti-apoptotic genes. Finally, we show Shp2E76K mutations reduce sensitivity of AML cells to small-molecule-mediated Mcl1 inhibition, suggesting reduced efficacy of drugs targeting MCL1 in patients with hyperactive Shp2.
Project description:As a central regulator of cell polarity, the activity of CDC42 GTPase is tightly controlled in maintaining normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSC/P) functions. We found that transformation of HSC/P to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is associated with increased CDC42 expression and activity in leukemia cells. In a mouse model of AML, the loss of Cdc42 abrogates MLL-AF9-induced AML development. Furthermore, genetic ablation of CDC42 in both murine and human MLL-AF9 (MA9) cells decreased survival and induced differentiation of the clonogenic leukemia-initiating cells. We show that MLL-AF9 leukemia cells maintain cell polarity in the context of elevated Cdc42-guanosine triphosphate activity, similar to nonmalignant, young HSC/Ps. The loss of Cdc42 resulted in a shift to depolarized AML cells that is associated with a decrease in the frequency of symmetric and asymmetric cell divisions producing daughter cells capable of self-renewal. Importantly, we demonstrate that inducible CDC42 suppression in primary human AML cells blocks leukemia progression in a xenograft model. Thus, CDC42 loss suppresses AML cell polarity and division asymmetry, and CDC42 constitutes a useful target to alter leukemia-initiating cell fate for differentiation therapy.