ABSTRACT: Imatinib-insensitive leukemia stem cells (LSCs) are believed to be responsible for resistance to BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors and relapse of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Identifying therapeutic targets to eradicate CML LSCs may be a strategy to cure CML. In the present study, we discovered a positive feedback loop between BCR-ABL and protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) in CML cells. Overexpression of PRMT5 was observed in human CML LSCs. Silencing PRMT5 with shRNA or blocking PRMT5 methyltransferase activity with the small-molecule inhibitor PJ-68 reduced survival, serial replating capacity, and long-term culture-initiating cells (LTC-ICs) in LSCs from CML patients. Further, PRMT5 knockdown or PJ-68 treatment dramatically prolonged survival in a murine model of retroviral BCR-ABL-driven CML and impaired the in vivo self-renewal capacity of transplanted CML LSCs. PJ-68 also inhibited long-term engraftment of human CML CD34+ cells in immunodeficient mice. Moreover, inhibition of PRMT5 abrogated the Wnt/?-catenin pathway in CML CD34+ cells by depleting dishevelled homolog 3 (DVL3). This study suggests that epigenetic methylation modification on histone protein arginine residues is a regulatory mechanism to control self-renewal of LSCs and indicates that PRMT5 may represent a potential therapeutic target against LSCs.
Project description:Quiescent leukemia stem cells (LSCs) that are insensitive to BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors confer resistance to imatinib in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Identifying proteins to regulate survival and stemness of LSCs is urgently needed. Although histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) can eliminate quiescent LSCs in CML, little is known about the underlying mechanism that HDACis kill LSCs. By fishing with a biotin-labeled probe, we identified that HDACi JSL-1 bound to the protein ?-catenin. ?-Catenin expression was higher in LSCs from CML patients than normal hematopoietic stem cells. Silencing ?-catenin in human CML CD34(+) bone-marrow (BM) cells sufficiently eliminated LSCs, which suggests that ?-catenin is required for survival of CML LSCs. Pharmacological inhibition of ?-catenin thwarted survival and self-renewal of human CML CD34(+) cells in vitro, and of murine LSCs in BCR-ABL-driven CML mice. ?-Catenin inhibition reduced long-term engraftment of human CML CD34(+) cells in NOD.Cg-Prkdc (scid) II2rg (tm1Sug)/JicCrl (NOG) mice. Silencing ?-catenin by shRNA in human primary CD34(+) cells did not alter ?-catenin, implying a ?-catenin-independent role of ?-catenin in survival and self-renewal of CML LSCs. Taken together, our findings validate that ?-catenin may be a novel therapeutic target of LSCs, and suppression of ?-catenin by HDACi may explain elimination of CML LSCs.
Project description:The development of Imatinib mesylate (IM), which targets the oncogenic BCR-ABL fusion protein, has greatly improved the outcome of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) patients. However, BCR-ABL-positive progenitors can be detected in CML patients in complete cytogenetic response. Several evidence suggests that CML stem cells are intrinsically resistant to Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKI), and therefore they represent the most likely candidate responsible for disease relapse.In this work, we investigated the microRNA (miRNA) expression profile of different subpopulations of CML Leukemic Stem Cells (LSCs): Lin-CD34+CD38- and Lin-CD34-CD38- cells. These cell fractions have been previously shown to be endowed with TKI intrinsic resistance. Our analysis identified 33 common deregulated miRNAs in CML LSCs. Among those, 8 miRNAs were deregulated in CML independently from BCR-ABL kinase activity and therefore are likely to be involved in the BCR-ABL-independent resistance to TKI that characterizes CML LSCs. In particular, the up-regulation of miR-29a-3p and miR-660-5p observed in CML LSCs, led to the down-regulation of their respective targets TET2 and EPAS1 and conferred TKI-resistance to CML LSCs in vitro. On the other hand, miR-494-3p down-regulation in CML LSCs, leading to c-MYC up-regulation, was able to decrease TKI-induced apoptosis. These results demonstrate that aberrant miRNA expression in CML LSCs could contribute to the intrinsic TKI-resistance observed in these cell populations, and support the development of novel therapies aimed at targeting aberrantly regulated miRNAs or their targets in order to effectively eradicate CML LSCs.
Project description:Leukemia stem cells (LSCs) in individuals with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) (hereafter referred to as CML LSCs) are responsible for initiating and maintaining clonal hematopoiesis. These cells persist in the bone marrow (BM) despite effective inhibition of BCR-ABL kinase activity by tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Here we show that although the microRNA (miRNA) miR-126 supported the quiescence, self-renewal and engraftment capacity of CML LSCs, miR-126 levels were lower in CML LSCs than in long-term hematopoietic stem cells (LT-HSCs) from healthy individuals. Downregulation of miR-126 levels in CML LSCs was due to phosphorylation of Sprouty-related EVH1-domain-containing 1 (SPRED1) by BCR-ABL, which led to inhibition of the RAN-exportin-5-RCC1 complex that mediates miRNA maturation. Endothelial cells (ECs) in the BM supply miR-126 to CML LSCs to support quiescence and leukemia growth, as shown using mouse models of CML in which Mir126a (encoding miR-126) was conditionally knocked out in ECs and/or LSCs. Inhibition of BCR-ABL by TKI treatment caused an undesired increase in endogenous miR-126 levels, which enhanced LSC quiescence and persistence. Mir126a knockout in LSCs and/or ECs, or treatment with a miR-126 inhibitor that targets miR-126 expression in both LSCs and ECs, enhanced the in vivo anti-leukemic effects of TKI treatment and strongly diminished LSC leukemia-initiating capacity, providing a new strategy for the elimination of LSCs in individuals with CML.
Project description:Notch signalling is critical for haemopoietic stem cell (HSC) self-renewal and survival. The role of Notch signalling has been reported recently in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) - a stem cell disease characterized by BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase activation. Therefore, we studied the relationship between BCR-ABL and Notch signalling and assessed the expression patterns of Notch and its downstream target Hes1 in CD34+ stem and progenitor cells from chronic-phase CML patients and bone marrow (BM) from normal subjects (NBM). We found significant upregulation (p<0.05) of Notch1, Notch2 and Hes1 on the most primitive CD34+Thy+ subset of CML CD34+ cells suggesting that active Notch signalling in CML primitive progenitors. In addition, Notch1 was also expressed in distinct lymphoid and myeloid progenitors within the CD34+ population of primary CML cells. To further delineate the possible role and interactions of Notch with BCR-ABL in CD34+ primary cells from chronic-phase CML, we used P-crkl detection as a surrogate assay of BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase activity. Our data revealed that Imatinib (IM) induced BCR-ABL inhibition results in significant (p<0.05) upregulation of Notch activity, assessed by Hes1 expression. Similarly, inhibition of Notch leads to hyperactivation of BCR-ABL. This antagonistic relationship between Notch and BCR-ABL signalling was confirmed in K562 and ALL-SIL cell lines. In K562, we further validated this antagonistic relationship by inhibiting histone deacetylase (HDAC) - an effector pathway of Hes1, using valproic acid (VPA) - a HDAC inhibitor. Finally, we also confirmed the potential antagonism between Notch and BCR/ABL in In Vivo, using publically available GSE-database, by analysing gene expression profile of paired samples from chronic-phase CML patients pre- and post-Imatinib therapy. Thus, we have demonstrated an antagonistic relationship between Notch and BCR-ABL in CML. A combined inhibition of Notch and BCR-ABL may therefore provide superior clinical response over tyrosine-kinase inhibitor monotherapy by targeting both quiescent leukaemic stem cells and differentiated leukaemic cells and hence must be explored.
Project description:Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are responsible for the initiation and maintenance of some types of cancer, suggesting that inhibition of these cells may limit disease progression and relapse. Unfortunately, few CSC-specific genes have been identified. Here, we determined that the gene encoding arachidonate 15-lipoxygenase (Alox15/15-LO) is essential for the survival of leukemia stem cells (LSCs) in a murine model of BCR-ABL-induced chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). In the absence of Alox15, BCR-ABL was unable to induce CML in mice. Furthermore, Alox15 deletion impaired LSC function by affecting cell division and apoptosis, leading to an eventual depletion of LSCs. Moreover, chemical inhibition of 15-LO function impaired LSC function and attenuated CML in mice. The defective CML phenotype in Alox15-deficient animals was rescued by depleting the gene encoding P-selectin, which is upregulated in Alox15-deficient animals. Both deletion and overexpression of P-selectin affected the survival of LSCs. In human CML cell lines and CD34+ cells, knockdown of Alox15 or inhibition of 15-LO dramatically reduced survival. Loss of Alox15 altered expression of PTEN, PI3K/AKT, and the transcription factor ICSBP, which are known mediators of cancer pathogenesis. These results suggest that ALOX15 has potential as a therapeutic target for eradicating LSCs in CML.
Project description:Despite the successes achieved with molecular targeted inhibition of the oncogenic driver Bcr-Abl in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), the majority of patients still require lifelong tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy. This is primarily caused by resisting leukemic stem cells (LSCs), which prevent achievement of treatment-free remission in all patients. Here we describe the ITIM (immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibition motif)-containing Fc gamma receptor IIb (Fc?RIIb, CD32b) for being critical in LSC resistance and show that targeting Fc?RIIb downstream signaling, by using a Food and Drug Administration-approved BTK inhibitor, provides a successful therapeutic approach. First, we identified Fc?RIIb upregulation in primary CML stem cells. Fc?RIIb depletion caused reduced serial re-plaiting efficiency and cell proliferation in malignant cells. Fc?RIIb targeting in both a transgenic and retroviral CML mouse model provided in vivo evidence for successful LSC reduction. Subsequently, we identified BTK as a main downstream mediator and targeting the Bcr-Abl-Fc?RIIb-BTK axis in primary CML CD34+ cells using ibrutinib, in combination with standard TKI therapy, significantly increased apoptosis in quiescent CML stem cells thereby contributing to the eradication of LSCs.. As a potential curative therapeutic approach, we therefore suggest combining Bcr-Abl TKI therapy along with BTK inhibition.
Project description:Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is maintained by a minor population of leukemic stem cells (LSCs) that exhibit innate resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) targeting BCR-ABL. Innate resistance can be induced by secreted bone marrow stromal cytokines and growth factors (BMSFs) that protect CML-LSCs from TKIs, resulting in minimal residual disease. Developing strategies to eradicate innate TKI resistance in LSCs is critical for preventing disease relapse. Cancer cells balance reactive oxygen species (ROS) at higher than normal levels, promoting their proliferation and survival, but also making them susceptible to damage by ROS-generating agents. Bcr-Abl increases cellular ROS levels, which can be reduced with TKI inhibitors, whereas, BMSFs increase ROS levels. We hypothesized that BMSF-mediated increases in ROS would trigger ROS damage in TKI-treated CML-LSCs when exposed to chaetocin, a mycotoxin that imposes oxidative stress by inhibiting thioredoxin reductase-1. Here, we showed that chaetocin suppressed viability and colony formation, and induced apoptosis of the murine hematopoietic cell line TonB210 with and without Bcr-Abl expression, and these effects were potentiated by BMSFs. In contrast, imatinib activities in Bcr-Abl-positive TonB210 cells were inhibited by BMSFs. Further, BMSFs did not inhibit imatinib activities when TonB210 cells expressing Bcr-Abl were cotreated with chaetocin. Chaetocin showed similar activities against LSC-enriched CML cell populations isolated from a murine transplant model of CML blast crisis that were phenotypically negative for lineage markers and positive for Sca-1 and c-Kit (CML-LSK). BMSFs and chaetocin increased ROS in CML-LSK cells and addition of BMSFs and chaetocin resulted in higher levels compared with chaetocin or BMSF treatment alone. Pretreatment of CML-LSKs with the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine blocked chaetocin cytotoxicity, even in the presence of BMSFs, demonstrating the importance ROS for chaetocin activities. Chaetocin effects on self-renewal of CML-LSKs were assessed by transplanting CML-LSKs into secondary recipients following ex vivo exposure to chaetocin, in the presence or absence of BMSFs. Disease latency in mice transplanted with CML-LSKs following chaetocin treatment more than doubled compared with untreated CML-LSKs or BMSFs-treated CML-LSKs. Mice transplanted with CML-LSKs following chaetocin treatment in the presence of BMSFs had significantly extended survival time compared with mice transplanted with CML-LSKs treated with chaetocin alone. Our findings indicate that chaetocin activity against CML-LSKs is significantly enhanced in the presence of BMSFs and suggest that chaetocin may be effective as a codrug to complement TKIs in CML treatment by disrupting the innate resistance of CML-LSKs through an ROS dependent mechanism.
Project description:Imatinib Mesylate (IM) and other tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapies have had a major impact on the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). However, TKI monotherapy is not curative, with relapse and persistence of leukemic stem cells (LSCs) remaining a challenge. We have recently identified an AHI-1-BCR-ABL-JAK2 protein complex that contributes to the transforming activity of BCR-ABL and IM-resistance in CML stem/progenitor cells. JAK2 thus emerges as an attractive target for improved therapies, but off-target effects of newly developed JAK2 inhibitors on normal hematopoietic cells remain a concern. We have examined the biological effects of a highly selective, orally bioavailable JAK2 inhibitor, BMS-911543, in combination with TKIs on CD34+ treatment-naïve IM-nonresponder cells. Combination therapy reduces JAK2/STAT5 and CRKL activities, induces apoptosis, inhibits proliferation and colony growth, and eliminates CML LSCs in vitro. Importantly, BMS-911543 selectively targets CML stem/progenitor cells while sparing healthy stem/progenitor cells. Oral BMS-911543 combined with the potent TKI dasatinib more effectively eliminates infiltrated leukemic cells in hematopoietic tissues than TKI monotherapy and enhances survival of leukemic mice. Dual targeting BCR-ABL and JAK2 activities in CML stem/progenitor cells may consequently lead to more effective disease eradication, especially in patients at high risk of TKI resistance and disease progression.
Project description:BACKGROUND: BCR-ABL kinase domain mutations are infrequently detected in newly diagnosed chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients. Recent studies indicate the presence of pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations in a higher percentage of CML patients when CD34+ stem/progenitor cells are investigated using sensitive techniques, and these mutations are associated with imatinib resistance and disease progression. However, such studies were limited to smaller number of patients. METHODS: We investigated BCR-ABL kinase domain mutations in CD34+ cells from 100 chronic-phase CML patients by multiplex allele-specific PCR and sequencing at diagnosis. Mutations were re-investigated upon manifestation of imatinib resistance using allele-specific PCR and direct sequencing of BCR-ABL kinase domain. RESULTS: Pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations were detected in 32/100 patients and included F311L, M351T, and T315I. After a median follow-up of 30 months (range 8-48), all patients with pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations exhibited imatinib resistance. Of the 68 patients without pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations, 24 developed imatinib resistance; allele-specific PCR and BCR-ABL kinase domain sequencing detected mutations in 22 of these patients. All 32 patients with pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations had the same mutations after manifestation of imatinib-resistance. In imatinib-resistant patients without pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations, we detected F311L, M351T, Y253F, and T315I mutations. All imatinib-resistant patients except T315I and Y253F mutations responded to imatinib dose escalation. CONCLUSION: Pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations can be detected in a substantial number of chronic-phase CML patients by sensitive allele-specific PCR technique using CD34+ cells. These mutations are associated with imatinib resistance if affecting drug binding directly or indirectly. After the recent approval of nilotinib, dasatinib, bosutinib and ponatinib for treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia along with imatinib, all of which vary in their effectiveness against mutated BCR-ABL forms, detection of pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations can help in selection of appropriate first-line drug therapy. Thus, mutation testing using CD34+ cells may facilitate improved, patient-tailored treatment.
Project description:The family of signal-transducing adapter proteins (STAPs) has been reported to be involved in a variety of intracellular signaling pathways and implicated as transcriptional factors. We previously cloned STAP-2 as a c-Fms interacting protein and explored its effects on chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) leukemogenesis. STAP-2 binds to BCR-ABL, upregulates BCR-ABL phosphorylation, and activates its downstream molecules. In this study, we evaluated the role of STAP-1, another member of the STAP family, in CML pathogenesis. We found that the expression of STAP-1 is aberrantly upregulated in CML stem cells (LSCs) in patients' bone marrow. Using experimental model mice, deletion of STAP-1 prolonged the survival of CML mice with inducing apoptosis of LSCs. The impaired phosphorylation status of STAT5 by STAP-1 ablation leads to downregulation of antiapoptotic genes, Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL. Interestingly, transcriptome analyses indicated that STAP-1 affects several signaling pathways related to BCR-ABL, JAK2, and PPAR?. This adapter protein directly binds to not only BCR-ABL, but also STAT5 proteins, showing synergistic effects of STAP-1 inhibition and BCR-ABL or JAK2 tyrosine kinase inhibition. Our results identified STAP-1 as a regulator of CML LSCs and suggested it to be a potential therapeutic target for CML.