Early aberrant DNA methylation events in a mouse model of acute myeloid leukemia.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Aberrant DNA methylation is frequently found in human malignancies including acute myeloid leukemia (AML). While most studies focus on later disease stages, the onset of aberrant DNA methylation events and their dynamics during leukemic progression are largely unknown. METHODS: We screened genome-wide for aberrant CpG island methylation in three disease stages of a murine AML model that is driven by hypomorphic expression of the hematopoietic transcription factor PU.1. DNA methylation levels of selected genes were correlated with methylation levels of CD34+ cells and lineage negative, CD127-, c-Kit+, Sca-1+ cells; common myeloid progenitors; granulocyte-macrophage progenitors; and megakaryocyte-erythroid progenitors. RESULTS: We identified 1,184 hypermethylated array probes covering 762 associated genes in the preleukemic stage. During disease progression, the number of hypermethylated genes increased to 5,465 in the late leukemic disease stage. Using publicly available data, we found a significant enrichment of PU.1 binding sites in the preleukemic hypermethylated genes, suggesting that shortage of PU.1 makes PU.1 binding sites in the DNA accessible for aberrant methylation. Many known AML associated genes such as RUNX1 and HIC1 were found among the preleukemic hypermethylated genes. Nine novel hypermethylated genes, FZD5, FZD8, PRDM16, ROBO3, CXCL14, BCOR, ITPKA, HES6 and TAL1, the latter four being potential PU.1 targets, were confirmed to be hypermethylated in human normal karyotype AML patients, underscoring the relevance of the mouse model for human AML. CONCLUSIONS: Our study identified early aberrantly methylated genes as potential contributors to onset and progression of AML.
Project description:DNA methylation is tightly regulated throughout mammalian development, and altered DNA methylation patterns are a general hallmark of cancer. The methylcytosine dioxygenase TET2 is frequently mutated in hematological disorders, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and has been suggested to protect CG dinucleotide (CpG) islands and promoters from aberrant DNA methylation. In this study, we present a novel Tet2-dependent leukemia mouse model that closely recapitulates gene expression profiles and hallmarks of human AML1-ETO-induced AML. Using this model, we show that the primary effect of Tet2 loss in preleukemic hematopoietic cells is progressive and widespread DNA hypermethylation affecting up to 25% of active enhancer elements. In contrast, CpG island and promoter methylation does not change in a Tet2-dependent manner but increases relative to population doublings. We confirmed this specific enhancer hypermethylation phenotype in human AML patients with TET2 mutations. Analysis of immediate gene expression changes reveals rapid deregulation of a large number of genes implicated in tumorigenesis, including many down-regulated tumor suppressor genes. Hence, we propose that TET2 prevents leukemic transformation by protecting enhancers from aberrant DNA methylation and that it is the combined silencing of several tumor suppressor genes in TET2 mutated hematopoietic cells that contributes to increased stem cell proliferation and leukemogenesis.
Project description:Cancer is widely characterized by the sequential acquisition of genetic lesions in a single lineage of cells. Our previous studies have shown that, in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), mutation acquisition occurs in functionally normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These preleukemic HSCs harbor some, but not all, of the mutations found in the leukemic cells. We report here the identification of patterns of mutation acquisition in human AML. Our findings support a model in which mutations in "landscaping" genes, involved in global chromatin changes such as DNA methylation, histone modification, and chromatin looping, occur early in the evolution of AML, whereas mutations in "proliferative" genes occur late. Additionally, we analyze the persistence of preleukemic mutations in patients in remission and find CD34+ progenitor cells and various mature cells that harbor preleukemic mutations. These findings indicate that preleukemic HSCs can survive induction chemotherapy, identifying these cells as a reservoir for the reevolution of relapsed disease. Finally, through the study of several cases of relapsed AML, we demonstrate various evolutionary patterns for the generation of relapsed disease and show that some of these patterns are consistent with involvement of preleukemic HSCs. These findings provide key insights into the monitoring of minimal residual disease and the identification of therapeutic targets in human AML.
Project description:Modest transcriptional changes caused by genetic or epigenetic mechanisms are frequent in human cancer. Although loss or near-complete loss of the hematopoietic transcription factor PU.1 induces acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in mice, a similar degree of PU.1 impairment is exceedingly rare in human AML; yet, moderate PU.1 inhibition is common in AML patients. We assessed functional consequences of modest reductions in PU.1 expression on leukemia development in mice harboring DNA lesions resembling those acquired during human stem cell aging. Heterozygous deletion of an enhancer of PU.1, which resulted in a 35% reduction of PU.1 expression, was sufficient to induce myeloid-biased preleukemic stem cells and their subsequent transformation to AML in a DNA mismatch repair-deficient background. AML progression was mediated by inhibition of expression of a PU.1-cooperating transcription factor, Irf8. Notably, we found marked molecular similarities between the disease in these mice and human myelodysplastic syndrome and AML. This study demonstrates that minimal reduction of a key lineage-specific transcription factor, which commonly occurs in human disease, is sufficient to initiate cancer development, and it provides mechanistic insight into the formation and progression of preleukemic stem cells in AML.
Project description:The myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a clonal hematologic disorder that frequently evolves to acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Its pathogenesis remains unclear, but mutations in epigenetic modifiers are common and the disease often responds to DNA methylation inhibitors. We analyzed DNA methylation in the bone marrow and spleen in two mouse models of MDS/AML, the NUP98-HOXD13 (NHD13) mouse and the RUNX1 mutant mouse model. Methylation array analysis showed an average of 512/3445 (14.9%) genes hypermethylated in NHD13 MDS, and 331 (9.6%) genes hypermethylated in RUNX1 MDS. Thirty-two percent of genes in common between the two models (2/3 NHD13 mice and 2/3 RUNX1 mice) were also hypermethylated in at least two of 19 human MDS samples. Detailed analysis of 41 genes in mice showed progressive drift in DNA methylation from young to old normal bone marrow and spleen; to MDS, where we detected accelerated age-related methylation; and finally to AML, which markedly extends DNA methylation abnormalities. Most of these genes showed similar patterns in human MDS and AML. Repeat element hypomethylation was rare in MDS but marked the transition to AML in some cases. Our data show consistency in patterns of aberrant DNA methylation in human and mouse MDS and suggest that epigenetically, MDS displays an accelerated aging phenotype.
Project description:Genome-wide screen for aberrant DNA methylation in bone marrow of PU.1 knockdown mice compared to control wildtype animals in three stages 7 age and gender matched mice pairs in the preleukemic stage, 5 pairs in the early leukemic stage and 7 pairs in the late leukemic stage
Project description:Understanding and blocking the self-renewal pathway of preleukemia stem cells could prevent acute myeloid leukemia (AML) relapse. In this study, we show that increased FOXO1 represents a critical mechanism driving aberrant self-renewal in preleukemic cells expressing the t(8;21)-associated oncogene AML1-ETO (AE). Although generally considered as a tumor suppressor, FOXO1 is consistently upregulated in t(8;21) AML. Expression of FOXO1 in human CD34<sup>+</sup> cells promotes a preleukemic state with enhanced self-renewal and dysregulated differentiation. The DNA binding domain of FOXO1 is essential for these functions. FOXO1 activates a stem cell molecular signature that is also present in AE preleukemia cells and preserved in t(8;21) patient samples. Genome-wide binding studies show that AE and FOXO1 share the majority of their binding sites, whereby FOXO1 binds to multiple crucial self-renewal genes and is required for their activation. In agreement with this observation, genetic and pharmacological ablation of FOXO1 inhibited the long-term proliferation and clonogenicity of AE cells and t(8;21) AML cell lines. Targeting of FOXO1 therefore provides a potential therapeutic strategy for elimination of stem cells at both preleukemic and leukemic stages.
Project description:DNMT3A mutations occur in ?25% of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. The most common mutation, DNMT3AR882H, has dominant negative activity that reduces DNA methylation activity by ?80% in vitro. To understand the contribution of DNMT3A-dependent methylation to leukemogenesis, we performed whole-genome bisulfite sequencing of primary leukemic and non-leukemic cells in patients with or without DNMT3AR882 mutations. Non-leukemic hematopoietic cells with DNMT3AR882H displayed focal methylation loss, suggesting that hypomethylation antedates AML. Although virtually all AMLs with wild-type DNMT3A displayed CpG island hypermethylation, this change was not associated with gene silencing and was essentially absent in AMLs with DNMT3AR882 mutations. Primary hematopoietic stem cells expanded with cytokines were hypermethylated in a DNMT3A-dependent manner, suggesting that hypermethylation may be a response to, rather than a cause of, cellular proliferation. Our findings suggest that hypomethylation is an initiating phenotype in AMLs with DNMT3AR882, while DNMT3A-dependent CpG island hypermethylation is a consequence of AML progression.
Project description:Understanding the relative contributions of genetic and epigenetic abnormalities to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) should assist integrated design of targeted therapies. In this study, we generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from AML patient samples harboring MLL rearrangements and found that they retained leukemic mutations but reset leukemic DNA methylation/gene expression patterns. AML-iPSCs lacked leukemic potential, but when differentiated into hematopoietic cells, they reacquired the ability to give rise to leukemia in vivo and reestablished leukemic DNA methylation/gene expression patterns, including an aberrant MLL signature. Epigenetic reprogramming was therefore not sufficient to eliminate leukemic behavior. This approach also allowed us to study the properties of distinct AML subclones, including differential drug susceptibilities of KRAS mutant and wild-type cells, and predict relapse based on increased cytarabine resistance of a KRAS wild-type subclone. Overall, our findings illustrate the value of AML-iPSCs for investigating the mechanistic basis and clonal properties of human AML.
Project description:Ras mutations are commonly observed in juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML). JMML and CMML transform into acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in about 10% and 50% of patients, respectively. However, how additional events cooperate with Ras to promote this transformation are largely unknown. We show that absence of the ubiquitin-specific peptidase 22 (USP22), a component of the Spt-Ada-GCN5-acetyltransferase chromatin-remodeling complex that is linked to cancer progression, unexpectedly promotes AML transformation in mice expressing oncogenic KrasG12D/+ USP22 deficiency in KrasG12D/+ mice resulted in shorter survival compared with control mice. This was due to a block in myeloid cell differentiation leading to the generation of AML. This effect was cell autonomous because mice transplanted with USP22-deficient KrasG12D/+ cells developed an aggressive disease and died rapidly. The transcriptome profile of USP22-deficient KrasG12D/+ progenitors resembled leukemic stem cells and was highly correlated with genes associated with poor prognosis in AML. We show that USP22 functions as a PU.1 deubiquitylase by positively regulating its protein stability and promoting the expression of PU.1 target genes. Reconstitution of PU.1 overexpression in USP22-deficient KrasG12D/+ progenitors rescued their differentiation. Our findings uncovered an unexpected role for USP22 in Ras-induced leukemogenesis and provide further insights into the function of USP22 in carcinogenesis.
Project description:DNA methylation patterns are frequently dysregulated in cancer, although little is known of the mechanisms through which specific gene sets become aberrantly methylated. The ecotropic viral integration site 1 (EVI1) locus encodes a DNA binding zinc-finger transcription factor that is aberrantly expressed in a subset of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients with poor outcome. We find that the promoter DNA methylation signature of EVI1 AML blast cells differs from those of normal CD34(+) bone marrow cells and other AMLs. This signature contained 294 differentially methylated genes, of which 238 (81%) were coordinately hypermethylated. An unbiased motif analysis revealed an overrepresentation of EVI1 binding sites among these aberrantly hypermethylated loci. EVI1 was capable of binding to these promoters in 2 different EVI1-expressing cell lines, whereas no binding was observed in an EVI1-negative cell line. Furthermore, EVI1 was observed to interact with DNA methyl transferases 3A and 3B. Among the EVI1 AML cases, 2 subgroups were recognized, of which 1 contained AMLs with many more methylated genes, which was associated with significantly higher levels of EVI1 than in the cases of the other subgroup. Our data point to a role for EVI1 in directing aberrant promoter DNA methylation patterning in EVI1 AMLs.