Identification of CD34+ and CD34- leukemia-initiating cells in MLL-rearranged human acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
ABSTRACT: Translocation of the mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene with AF4, AF9, or ENL results in acute leukemia with both lymphoid and myeloid involvement. We characterized leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) in primary infant MLL-rearranged leukemia using a xenotransplantation model. In MLL-AF4 patients, CD34(+)CD38(+)CD19(+) and CD34(-)CD19(+) cells initiated leukemia, and in MLL-AF9 patients, CD34(-)CD19(+) cells were LICs. In MLL-ENL patients, either CD34(+) or CD34(-) cells were LICs, depending on the pattern of CD34 expression. In contrast, in patients with these MLL translocations, CD34(+)CD38(-)CD19(-)CD33(-) cells were enriched for normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) with in vivo long-term multilineage hematopoietic repopulation capacity. Although LICs developed leukemic cells with clonal immunoglobulin heavy-chain (IGH) rearrangement in vivo, CD34(+)CD38(-)CD19(-)CD33(-) cells repopulated recipient bone marrow and spleen with B cells, showing broad polyclonal IGH rearrangement and recipient thymus with CD4(+) single positive (SP), CD8(+) SP, and CD4(+)CD8(+) double-positive (DP) T cells. Global gene expression profiling revealed that CD9, CD32, and CD24 were over-represented in MLL-AF4, MLL-AF9, and MLL-ENL LICs compared with normal HSCs. In patient samples, these molecules were expressed in CD34(+)CD38(+) and CD34(-) LICs but not in CD34(+)CD38(-)CD19(-)CD33(-) HSCs. Identification of LICs and LIC-specific molecules in primary human MLL-rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemia may lead to improved therapeutic strategies for MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Project description:Transcriptome analysis by RNAseq of leukemia model promoted by MLL-Af4 or MLL-AF9 fusion proteins. We find each fusion protein promotes a specific gene signature correlating to those identified in patients Overall design: Human CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells were transduced with retrovirus expressing MLL-Af4 or MLL-AF9. Transduced cells were transplanted into immunodeficient mice to induce lymphoid leukemia or placed in myeloid in vitro culture. CD19+ lymphoid leukemia cells (3 AF9, 6 Af4), control health CD19+CD34+ proB cells (n=3) and 4 pairs of Af4 and AF9 CD33+CD19- myeloid culture cells were collected for RNA-seq
Project description:The eleven-nineteen leukemia (ENL) protein family, composed of ENL and AF9, is a common component of 3 transcriptional modulators: AF4-ENL-P-TEFb complex (AEP), DOT1L-AF10-ENL complex (referred to as the DOT1L complex) and polycomb-repressive complex 1 (PRC1). Each complex associates with chromatin via distinct mechanisms, conferring different transcriptional properties including activation, maintenance, and repression. The mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene often fuses with ENL and AF10 family genes in leukemia. However, the functional interrelationship among those 3 complexes in leukemic transformation remains largely elusive. Here, we have shown that MLL-ENL and MLL-AF10 constitutively activate transcription by aberrantly inducing both AEP-dependent transcriptional activation and DOT1L-dependent transcriptional maintenance, mostly in the absence of PRC1, to fully transform hematopoietic progenitors. These results reveal a cooperative transcriptional activation mechanism of AEP and DOT1L and suggest a molecular rationale for the simultaneous inhibition of the MLL fusion-AF4 complex and DOT1L for more effective treatment of MLL-rearranged leukemia.
Project description:MLL-AF4+ blasts from infant B-ALL, CB-derived CD34+CD38-CD19-CD33- HSC, CB-derived CD34+CD19+CD33- B-cell HPCs and CB-derived CD34+CD33+CD19- myeloid HPCs. We used microarray to estudy gene expression profile comparing ALL vs HSC, HPC and myeloid HPSC. We used highly FACS-purified (purity>98%) MLL-AF4+ blasts from infant B-ALL, CB-derived CD34+CD38-CD19-CD33- HSC, CB-derived CD34+CD19+CD33- B-cell HPCs and CB-derived CD34+CD33+CD19- myeloid HPCs. For each independent sample technical duplicates were always performed. Total RNA was extracted using TRIol reagent, and quantified on a Nanodrop spectrophotometer and Bioanalyzer. High-quality RNA was reverse transcribed and the obtained cDNA was used as a template to synthesize biotinylanted cDNA, then was fragmented and hybridized as duplicates/triplicates to HG-U133 plus2.0 GeneChips (Affymetrix) according to manufacturer's guideline.
Project description:The aim of this study was to better understand how mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) fusion proteins deregulate the expression of genes critical for leukemia.The transforming domain of one of the most common MLL fusion partners, AF9, was immunopurified after expression in myeloblastic M1 cells, and associating proteins were identified by mass spectrometric analysis. Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used to determine how binding of associating proteins compare across Hoxa9 and Meis1 in cell lines with and without MLL fusion proteins and how binding is altered during gene down-regulation and differentiation.Consistent with earlier purifications of ENL and AF4 from 293 cells, the 90 amino acid C-terminal domain of AF9 associates with many other MLL translocation partners including Enl, Af4, Laf4, Af5q31, Ell, and Af10. This complex, termed elongation assisting proteins (EAPs), also contains the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain kinase Cdk9/Cyclin T1/T2 (pTEFb) and the histone H3 lysine 79 methyltransferase Dot1L. Myeloid cells transformed by MLL fusions show higher levels and a broader distribution of EAP components at genes critical for leukemia. Inhibition of EAP components pTEFb and Dot1l show that both contribute significantly to activation of Hoxa9 and Meis1 expression. EAP is dynamically associated with the Hoxa9 and Meis1 loci in hematopoietic cells and rapidly dissociates during induction of differentiation. In the presence of MLL fusion proteins, its dissociation is prevented.The findings suggest that MLL fusion proteins deregulate genes critical for leukemia by excessive recruitment and impaired dissociation of EAP from target loci.
Project description:The MLL fusion proteins, AF9 and ENL, activate target genes in part via recruitment of the histone methyltransferase DOT1L (disruptor of telomeric silencing 1-like). Here we report biochemical, biophysical, and functional characterization of the interaction between DOT1L and MLL fusion proteins, AF9/ENL. The AF9/ENL-binding site in human DOT1L was mapped, and the interaction site was identified to a 10-amino acid region (DOT1L865-874). This region is highly conserved in DOT1L from a variety of species. Alanine scanning mutagenesis analysis shows that four conserved hydrophobic residues from the identified binding motif are essential for the interactions with AF9/ENL. Binding studies demonstrate that the entire intact C-terminal domain of AF9/ENL is required for optimal interaction with DOT1L. Functional studies show that the mapped AF9/ENL interacting site is essential for immortalization by MLL-AF9, indicating that DOT1L interaction with MLL-AF9 and its recruitment are required for transformation by MLL-AF9. These results strongly suggest that disruption of interaction between DOT1L and AF9/ENL is a promising therapeutic strategy with potentially fewer adverse effects than enzymatic inhibition of DOT1L for MLL fusion protein-associated leukemia.
Project description:FLT3 is one of the most frequently mutated genes in acute leukemias. However, the role in leukemogenesis of wild-type (wt) FLT3, which is highly expressed in many hematologic malignancies, is unclear. We show here that in mouse models established by retroviral transduction of leukemic fusion proteins, deletion of Flt3 strongly inhibits MLL-ENL and to lesser extent p210(BCR-ABL)-induced leukemogenesis, but has no effect in MLL-AF9 or AML1-ETO9a models. Flt3 acts at the level of leukemic stem cells (LSCs), as a fraction of LSCs in MLL-ENL, but not in MLL-AF9-induced leukemia, expressed Flt3 in vivo, and Flt3 expression on LSCs was associated with leukemia development in this model. Furthermore, efficiency of MLL-ENL, but not of MLL-AF9-induced leukemia induction was significantly enhanced after transduction of Flt3(+) compared to Flt3(-) wt myeloid progenitors. However, Flt3 is not required for immortalization of bone marrow cells in vitro by MLL-ENL and does not affect colony formation by MLL-ENL LSCs in vitro, suggesting that in vitro models do not reflect the in vivo biology of MLL-ENL leukemia with respect to Flt3 requirement. We conclude that wt Flt3 plays a role in leukemia initiation in vivo, which is, however, not universal.
Project description:The 2 most frequent human MLL hematopoietic malignancies involve either AF4 or AF9 as fusion partners; each has distinct biology but the role of the fusion partner is not clear. We produced Mll-AF4 knock-in (KI) mice by homologous recombination in embryonic stem cells and compared them with Mll-AF9 KI mice. Young Mll-AF4 mice had lymphoid and myeloid deregulation manifest by increased lymphoid and myeloid cells in hematopoietic organs. In vitro, bone marrow cells from young mice formed unique mixed pro-B lymphoid (B220(+)CD19(+)CD43(+)sIgM(-), PAX5(+), TdT(+), IgH rearranged)/myeloid (CD11b/Mac1(+), c-fms(+), lysozyme(+)) colonies when grown in IL-7- and Flt3 ligand-containing media. Mixed lymphoid/myeloid hyperplasia and hematologic malignancies (most frequently B-cell lymphomas) developed in Mll-AF4 mice after prolonged latency; long latency to malignancy indicates that Mll-AF4-induced lymphoid/myeloid deregulation alone is insufficient to produce malignancy. In contrast, young Mll-AF9 mice had predominately myeloid deregulation in vivo and in vitro and developed myeloid malignancies. The early onset of distinct mixed lymphoid/myeloid lineage deregulation in Mll-AF4 mice shows evidence for both "instructive" and "noninstructive" roles for AF4 and AF9 as partners in MLL fusion genes. The molecular basis for "instruction" and secondary cooperating mutations can now be studied in our Mll-AF4 model.
Project description:Rearrangements of the mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene occur predominately in pediatric leukemia cases and are generally predictors of a poor prognosis. These chromosomal rearrangements result in fusion of the protein MLL to one of more than 60 protein partners. MLL fusions are potent inducers of leukemia through activation of oncogene expression; therefore, targeting this transcriptional activation function may arrest MLL-rearranged (MLL-R) leukemia. Leukemic cell lines harboring the most common fusion protein, MLL-AF4, require the direct interaction of AF4 with the transcription factor AF9 to survive and self-renew; disrupting this interaction with a cell-penetrating AF4-derived peptide results in cell death, suggesting that the AF4-AF9 interaction could be a viable target for a novel MLL-R leukemia therapy. Here we describe the use of AlphaScreen technology to develop a high-throughput screening (HTS) assay to detect nonpeptidic inhibitors of AF4-AF9 binding. The assay is economical, requiring only low nanomolar concentrations of biotinylated AF4-derived peptide and FLAG-tagged AF9 in low-volume 384-well plates. A Z'-factor of 0.71 and a signal-to-background ratio of 21.3 showed the assay to be robust, and sensitivity to inhibition was demonstrated with competing AF4-derived peptides. Two pilot screens comprising 5,680 compounds served as validation for HTS at Nemours and the Broad Institute. Assay artifacts were excluded using a counterscreen comprising a biotinylated FLAG peptide. This is the first reported HTS-compatible assay to identify compounds that inhibit a key binding interaction of an MLL fusion partner, and the results presented here demonstrate suitability for screening large chemical libraries in high-density, low-volume plate formats.
Project description:Chromosome rearrangements involving the mixed-lineage leukemia gene (MLL) create MLL-fusion proteins, which could drive both acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The lineage decision of MLL-fusion leukemia is influenced by the fusion partner and microenvironment. To investigate the interplay of fusion proteins and microenvironment in lineage choice, we transplanted human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) expressing MLL-AF9 or MLL-Af4 into immunodeficient NSGS mice, which strongly promote myeloid development. Cells expressing MLL-AF9 efficiently developed AML in NSGS mice. In contrast, MLL-Af4 cells, which were fully oncogenic under lymphoid conditions present in NSG mice, displayed compromised transformation capacity in a myeloid microenvironment. MLL-Af4 activated a self-renewal program in a lineage-dependent manner, showing the leukemogenic activity of MLL-Af4 was interlinked with lymphoid lineage commitment. The C-terminal homology domain (CHD) of Af4 was sufficient to confer this linkage. Although the MLL-CHD fusion protein failed to immortalize HSPCs in myeloid conditions in vitro, it could successfully induce ALL in NSG mice. Our data suggest that defective self-renewal ability and leukemogenesis of MLL-Af4 myeloid cells could contribute to the strong B-cell ALL association of MLL-AF4 leukemia observed in the clinic.
Project description:The Super Elongation Complex (SEC), containing transcription elongation activators/coactivators P-TEFb, ELL2, AFF4/1, ENL, and AF9, is recruited by HIV-1 Tat and mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) proteins to activate the expression of HIV-1 and MLL-target genes, respectively. In the absence of Tat and MLL, however, it is unclear how SEC is targeted to RNA polymerase (Pol) II to stimulate elongation in general. Furthermore, although ENL and AF9 can bind the H3K79 methyltransferase Dot1L, it is unclear whether these bindings are required for SEC-mediated transcription. Here, we show that the homologous ENL and AF9 exist in separate SECs with similar but nonidentical functions. ENL/AF9 contacts the scaffolding protein AFF4 that uses separate domains to recruit different subunits into SEC. ENL/AF9 also exists outside SEC when bound to Dot1L, which is found to inhibit SEC function. The YEATS domain of ENL/AF9 targets SEC to Pol II on chromatin through contacting the human Polymerase-Associated Factor complex (PAFc) complex. This finding explains the YEATS domain's dispensability for leukemogenesis when ENL/AF9 is translocated to MLL, whose interactions with PAFc and DNA likely substitute for the PAFc/chromatin-targeting function of the YEATS domain.