The histone methyltransferase EZH2 as a novel prosurvival factor in clinically aggressive chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
ABSTRACT: The histone methyltransferase EZH2 induces gene repression through trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27me3). EZH2 overexpression has been reported in many types of cancer and associated with poor prognosis. Here we investigated the expression and functionality of EZH2 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Aggressive cases with unmutated IGHV genes (U-CLL) displayed significantly higher EZH2 expression compared to indolent CLL cases with mutated IGHV genes (M-CLL); furthermore, in U-CLL EZH2 expression was upregulated with disease progression. Within U-CLL, EZH2high cases harbored significantly fewer (p = 0.033) TP53 gene abnormalities compared to EZH2low cases. EZH2high cases displayed high H3K27me3 levels and increased viability suggesting that EZH2 is functional and likely confers a survival advantage to CLL cells. This argument was further supported by siRNA-mediated downmodulation of EZH2 which resulted in increased apoptosis. Notably, at the intraclonal level, cell proliferation was significantly associated with EZH2 expression. Treatment of primary CLL cells with EZH2 inhibitors induced downregulation of H3K27me3 levels leading to increased cell apoptosis. In conclusion, EZH2 is overexpressed in adverse-prognosis CLL and associated with increased cell survival and proliferation. Pharmacologic inhibition of EZH2 catalytic activity promotes apoptosis, highlighting EZH2 as a novel potential therapeutic target for specific subgroups of patients with CLL.
Project description:EZH2 is overexpressed in poor-prognostic chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) cases, acting as an oncogene; however, thus far, the EZH2 target genes in CLL have not been disclosed. In this study, using ChIP-sequencing, we identified EZH2 and H3K27me3 target genes in two prognostic subgroups of CLL with distinct prognosis and outcome, i.e., cases with unmutated (U-CLL, n = 6) or mutated IGHV genes (M-CLL, n = 6). While the majority of oncogenic pathways were equally enriched for EZH2 target genes in both prognostic subgroups, PI3K pathway genes were differentially bound by EZH2 in U-CLL versus M-CLL. The occupancy of EZH2 for selected PI3K pathway target genes was validated in additional CLL samples (n = 16) and CLL cell lines using siRNA-mediated EZH2 downregulation and ChIP assays. Intriguingly, we found that EZH2 directly binds to the IGF1R promoter along with MYC and upregulates IGF1R expression in U-CLL, leading to downstream PI3K activation. By investigating an independent CLL cohort (n = 96), a positive correlation was observed between EZH2 and IGF1R expression with higher levels in U-CLL compared to M-CLL. Accordingly, siRNA-mediated downregulation of either EZH2, MYC or IGF1R and treatment with EZH2 and MYC pharmacological inhibitors in the HG3 CLL cell line induced a significant reduction in PI3K pathway activation. In conclusion, we characterize for the first time EZH2 target genes in CLL revealing a hitherto unknown implication of EZH2 in modulating the PI3K pathway in a non-canonical, PRC2-independent way, with potential therapeutic implications considering that PI3K inhibitors are effective therapeutic agents for CLL.
Project description:Intraclonal subpopulations of circulating chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells with different proliferative histories and reciprocal surface expression of CXCR4 and CD5 have been observed in the peripheral blood of CLL patients and named proliferative (PF), intermediate (IF), and resting (RF) cellular fractions. Here, we found that these intraclonal circulating fractions share persistent DNA methylation signatures largely associated with the mutation status of the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus (IGHV) and their origins from distinct stages of differentiation of antigen-experienced B cells. Increased leukemic birth rate, however, showed a very limited impact on DNA methylation of circulating CLL fractions independent of IGHV mutation status. Additionally, DNA methylation heterogeneity increased as leukemic cells advanced from PF to RF in the peripheral blood. This frequently co-occurred with heterochromatin hypomethylation and hypermethylation of Polycomb-repressed regions in the PF, suggesting accumulation of longevity-associated epigenetic features in recently born cells. On the other hand, transcriptional differences between paired intraclonal fractions confirmed their proliferative experience and further supported a linear advancement from PF to RF in the peripheral blood. Several of these differentially expressed genes showed unique associations with clinical outcome not evident in the bulk clone, supporting the pathological and therapeutic relevance of studying intraclonal CLL fractions. We conclude that independent methylation and transcriptional landscapes reflect both preexisting cell-of-origin fingerprints and more recently acquired hallmarks associated with the life cycle of circulating CLL cells.
Project description:Treatment with anti-CD20 antibodies is only moderately efficient in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a feature which has been explained by the inherently low CD20 expression in CLL. It has been shown that CD20 is epigenetically regulated and that histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) can increase CD20 expression in vitro in CLL. To assess whether HDACis can upregulate CD20 also in vivo in CLL, the HDACi valproate was given to three del13q/NOTCH1wt CLL patients and CD20 levels were analysed (the PREVAIL study). Valproate treatment resulted in expected global activating histone modifications suggesting HDAC inhibitory effects. However, although valproate induced expression of CD20 mRNA and protein in the del13q/NOTCH1wt I83-E95 CLL cell line, no such effects were observed in the patients studied. In contrast to the cell line, in patients valproate treatment resulted in transient recruitment of the transcriptional repressor EZH2 to the CD20 promoter, correlating to an increase of the repressive histone mark H3K27me3. This suggests that valproate-mediated induction of CD20 may be hampered by EZH2 mediated H3K27me3 in vivo in CLL. Moreover, valproate treatment resulted in induction of EZH2 and global H3K27me3 in patient cells, suggesting transcriptionally repressive effects of valproate in CLL. Our results suggest new in vivo mechanisms of HDACis which may have implications on the design of future clinical trials in B-cell malignancies.
Project description:Downregulation of miR26A1 has been reported in various B-cell malignancies; however, the mechanism behind its deregulation remains largely unknown. We investigated miR26A1 methylation and expression levels in a well-characterized series of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). From 450K methylation arrays, we first observed miR26A1 (cg26054057) as uniformly hypermethylated in MCL (n = 24) (all >75%), while CLL (n = 18) showed differential methylation between prognostic subgroups. Extended analysis using pyrosequencing confirmed our findings and real-time quantitative PCR verified low miR26A1 expression in both CLL (n = 70) and MCL (n = 38) compared to normal B-cells. Notably, the level of miR26A1 methylation predicted outcome in CLL, with higher levels seen in poor-prognostic, IGHV-unmutated CLL. Since EZH2 was recently reported as a target for miR26A1, we analyzed the expression levels of both miR26A1 and EZH2 in primary CLL samples and observed an inverse correlation. By overexpression of miR26A1 in CLL and MCL cell lines, reduced EZH2 protein levels were observed using both Western blot and flow cytometry. In contrast, methyl-inhibitor treatment led to upregulated miR26A1 expression with a parallel decrease of EZH2 expression. Finally, increased levels of apoptosis were observed in miR26A1-overexpressing cell lines, further underscoring the functional relevance of miR26A1. In summary, we propose that epigenetic silencing of miR26A1 is required for the maintenance of increased levels of EZH2, which in turn translate into a worse outcome, as shown in CLL, highlighting miR26A1 as a tumor suppressor miRNA.
Project description:Cigarette smoke is a risk factor for COPD and lung cancer. In cancer, epigenetic modifications affect the expression of Enhancer of Zester Homolog 2 (EZH2), and silenced disabled homolog 2 interacting protein gene (DAB2IP) (onco-suppressor gene) by Histone H3 tri-methylation in lysine 27 (H3K27me3). In"ex vivo"studies, we assessed EZH2, H3K27me3 and DAB2IP immunoreactivity in bronchial epithelial cells from COPD patients (smokers, ex-smokers), Smoker and control subjects. In"in vitro" experiments we studied the effect of cigarette smoke extract (CSE) on EZH2/H3K27me3/DAB2IP expression, apoptosis, invasiveness, and vimentin expression in 16HBE, primary cells, and lung cancer cell lines (A549) long-term exposed to CSE. Finally, in "in vitro"studies, we tested the effect of GSK343 (selective inhibitor of EZH2). EZH2 and H3K27me3 expression was higher, while DAB2IP was lower levels, in bronchial epithelium from COPD and Smokers than in Controls. CSE increased EZH2, H3K27me3 expression and decreased DAB2IP, cell apoptosis and invasiveness in epithelial cells. GSK343 restored the effects of CSE. Cigarette smoke affects EZH2 expression, and reduced DAB2IP via H3K27me3 in COPD patients. The molecular mechanisms associated with EZH2 expression, generate a dysregulation of cell apoptosis, mesenchymal transition, and cell invasiveness in bronchial epithelial cells, encouraging the progression of airway inflammation toward lung cancer in COPD patients.
Project description:Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) assigned to stereotyped subset #4 express highly homologous B-cell receptor immunoglobulin (BcR IG) sequences with intense intraclonal diversification (ID) in the context of ongoing somatic hypermutation (SHM). Their remarkable biological and clinical similarities strongly support derivation from a common ancestor. We here revisited ID in subset #4 CLL to reconstruct their evolutionary history as a community of related clones. To this end, using specialized bioinformatics tools we assessed both IGHV-IGHD-IGHJ rearrangements (n = 511) and IGKV-IGKJ rearrangements (n = 397) derived from eight subset #4 cases. Due to high sequence relatedness, a number of subclonal clusters from different cases lay very close to one another, forming a core from which clusters exhibiting greater variation stemmed. Minor subclones from individual cases were mutated to such an extent that they now resembled the sequences of another patient. Viewing the entire subset #4 data set as a single entity branching through diversification enabled inference of a common sequence representing the putative ancestral BcR IG expressed by their still elusive common progenitor. These results have implications for improved understanding of the ontogeny of CLL subset #4, as well as the design of studies concerning the antigenic specificity of the clonotypic BcR IGs.
Project description:The chromatin modifier EZH2 is overexpressed and associated with inferior outcome in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Recently, we demonstrated preferential DNA methylation of HOX genes in MCL compared with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), despite these genes not being expressed in either entity. Since EZH2 has been shown to regulate HOX gene expression, to gain further insight into its possible role in differential silencing of HOX genes in MCL vs. CLL, we performed detailed epigenetic characterization using representative cell lines and primary samples. We observed significant overexpression of EZH2 in MCL vs. CLL. Chromatin immune precipitation (ChIP) assays revealed that EZH2 catalyzed repressive H3 lysine 27 trimethylation (H3K27me3), which was sufficient to silence HOX genes in CLL, whereas in MCL H3K27me3 is accompanied by DNA methylation for a more stable repression. More importantly, hypermethylation of the HOX genes in MCL resulted from EZH2 overexpression and subsequent recruitment of the DNA methylation machinery onto HOX gene promoters. The importance of EZH2 upregulation in this process was further underscored by siRNA transfection and EZH2 inhibitor experiments. Altogether, these observations implicate EZH2 in the long-term silencing of HOX genes in MCL, and allude to its potential as a therapeutic target with clinical impact.
Project description:Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) catalyzes trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 27 (H3K27me3) and its demethylation is catalyzed by UTX. EZH2 levels are frequently elevated in breast cancer and have been proposed to control gene expression through regulating repressive H3K27me3 marks. However, it is not fully established whether breast cancers with different levels of H3K27me3, EZH2 and UTX exhibit different biological behaviors. Levels of H3K27me3, EZH2 and UTX and their prognostic significance were evaluated in 146 cases of breast cancer. H3K27me3 levels were higher in HER2-negative samples. EZH2 expression was higher in cancers that were LN+, size?>?20mm, and with higher tumor grade and stage. Using a Cox regression model, H3K27me3 levels and EZH2 expression were identified as independent prognostic factors for overall survival for all the breast cancers studied as well as the ER-positive subgroup. The combination of low H3K27me3 and high EZH2 expression levels were significantly associated with shorter survival. UTX expression was not significantly associated with prognosis and there were no correlations between H3K27me3 levels and EZH2/UTX expression. To determine if EZH2 is required to establish H3K27me3 marks in mammary cancer, Brca1 and Ezh2 were deleted in mammary stem cells in mice. Brca1-deficient mammary cancers with unaltered H3K27me3 levels developed in the absence of EZH2, demonstrating that EZH2 is not a mandatory H3K27 methyltransferase in mammary neoplasia and providing genetic evidence for biological independence between H3K27me3 and EZH2 in this tissue.
Project description:Ezh2 is an histone methyltransferase (HMT) that catalyzes H3K27me3 and functions in TH1, TH2, and Treg cells primarily via HMT activity. Here we show that Ezh2 ablation impairs T follicular helper (TFH) cell differentiation and activation of the TFH transcription program. In TFH cells, most Ezh2-occupied genomic sites, including the Bcl6 promoter, are associated with H3K27ac rather than H3K27me3. Mechanistically, Ezh2 is recruited by Tcf1 to directly activate Bcl6 transcription, with this function requiring Ezh2 phosphorylation at Ser21. Meanwhile, Ezh2 deploys H3K27me3 to repress Cdkn2a expression in TFH cells, where aberrantly upregulated p19Arf, a Cdkn2a protein product, triggers TFH cell apoptosis and antagonizes Bcl6 function via protein-protein interaction. Either forced expression of Bcl6 or genetic ablation of p19Arf in Ezh2-deficient cells improves TFH cell differentiation and helper function. Thus, Ezh2 orchestrates TFH-lineage specification and function maturation by integrating phosphorylation-dependent transcriptional activation and HMT-dependent gene repression.
Project description:Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) arises from the clonal expansion of a CD5(+) B lymphocyte that is thought not to undergo intraclonal diversification. Using V(H)DJ(H) cDNA single strand conformation polymorphism analyses, we detected intraclonal mobility variants in 11 of 18 CLL cases. cDNA sequence analyses indicated that these variants represented unique point-mutations (1-35/patient). In nine cases, these mutations were unique to individual submembers of the CLL clone, although in two cases they occurred in a large percentage of the clonal submembers and genealogical trees could be identified. The diversification process responsible for these changes led to single nucleotide changes that favored transitions over transversions, but did not target A nucleotides and did not have the replacement/silent nucleotide change characteristics of antigen-selected B cells. Intraclonal diversification did not correlate with the original mutational load of an individual CLL case in that diversification was as frequent in CLL cells with little or no somatic mutations as in those with considerable mutations. Finally, CLL B cells that did not exhibit intraclonal diversification in vivo could be induced to mutate their V(H)DJ(H) genes in vitro after stimulation. These data indicate that a somatic mutation mechanism remains functional in CLL cells and could play a role in the evolution of the clone.