Hoxa9 and Hoxa10 induce CML myeloid blast crisis development through activation of Myb expression.
ABSTRACT: Mechanisms underlying the progression of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) from chronic phase to myeloid blast crisis are poorly understood. Our previous studies have suggested that overexpression of SETBP1 can drive this progression by conferring unlimited self-renewal capability to granulocyte macrophage progenitors (GMPs). Here we show that overexpression of Hoxa9 or Hoxa10, both transcriptional targets of Setbp1, is also sufficient to induce self-renewal of primary myeloid progenitors, causing their immortalization in culture. More importantly, both are able to cooperate with BCR/ABL to consistently induce transformation of mouse GMPs and development of aggressive leukemias resembling CML myeloid blast crisis, suggesting that either gene can drive CML progression by promoting the self-renewal of GMPs. We further identify Myb as a common critical target for Hoxa9 and Hoxa10 in inducing self-renewal of myeloid progenitors as Myb knockdown significantly reduced colony-forming potential of myeloid progenitors immortalized by the expression of either gene. Interestingly, Myb is also capable of immortalizing primary myeloid progenitors in culture and cooperating with BCR/ABL to induce leukemic transformation of mouse GMPs. Significantly increased levels of MYB transcript also were detected in all human CML blast crisis samples examined over chronic phase samples, further suggesting the possibility that MYB overexpression may play a prevalent role in driving human CML myeloid blast crisis development. In summary, our results identify overexpression of HOXA9, HOXA10, and MYB as critical drivers of CML progression, and suggest MYB as a key therapeutic target for inhibiting the self-renewal of leukemia-initiating cells in CML myeloid blast crisis patients.
Project description:Acquisition of self-renewal capability by myeloid progenitors to become leukemic stem cells during myeloid leukemia development is poorly understood. Here, we show that Setbp1 overexpression efficiently confers self-renewal capability to myeloid progenitors in vitro, causing their immortalization in the presence of stem cell factor and IL-3. Self-renewal after immortalization requires continuous Setbp1 expression. We also found that Hoxa9 and Hoxa10 mRNA are present at dramatically higher levels in Setbp1-immortalized cells compared with other immortalized cells, and are induced shortly after Setbp1 expression in primary myeloid progenitors. Suppression of either gene in Setbp1-immortalized cells drastically reduces their colony-forming capability. Interestingly, Setbp1 protein associates with Hoxa9 and Hoxa10 promoters in chromatin immunoprecipitation assays in these cells, suggesting that both are direct transcriptional targets of Setbp1. Setbp1 also promotes self-renewal of myeloid progenitors in vivo as its coexpression with BCR/ABL transforms primary mouse myeloid progenitors, generating aggressive leukemias in recipient mice resembling chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) myeloid blast crisis. Increased SETBP1 mRNA levels were also detected in a subset of CML advanced phase/blast crisis patients with high levels of HOXA9 and HOXA10 expression. Thus, Setbp1 activation represents a novel mechanism conferring self-renewal capability to myeloid progenitors in myeloid leukemia development.
Project description:The c-Myb gene encodes a transcription factor required for proliferation and survival of normal myeloid progenitors and leukemic blast cells. Targeting of c-Myb by antisense oligodeoxynucleotides has suggested that myeloid leukemia blasts (including chronic myelogenous leukemia [CML]-blast crisis cells) rely on c-Myb expression more than normal progenitors, but a genetic approach to assess the requirement of c-Myb by p210(BCR/ABL)-transformed hematopoietic progenitors has not been taken. We show here that loss of a c-Myb allele had modest effects (20%-28% decrease) on colony formation of nontransduced progenitors, while the effect on p210(BCR/ABL)-expressing Lin(-) Sca-1(+) and Lin(-) Sca-1(+)Kit(+) cells was more pronounced (50%-80% decrease). Using a model of CML-blast crisis, mice (n = 14) injected with p210(BCR/ABL)-transduced p53(-/-)c-Myb(w/w) marrow cells developed leukemia rapidly and had a median survival of 26 days, while only 67% of mice (n = 12) injected with p210(BCR/ABL)-transduced p53(-/-)c-Myb(w/d) marrow cells died of leukemia with a median survival of 96 days. p210(BCR/ABL)-transduced c-Myb(w/w) and c-Myb(w/d) marrow progenitors expressed similar levels of the c-Myb-regulated genes c-Myc and cyclin B1, while those of Bcl-2 were reduced. However, ectopic Bcl-2 expression did not enhance colony formation of p210(BCR/ABL)-transduced c-Myb(w/d) Lin(-)Sca-1(+)Kit(+) cells. Together, these studies support the requirement of c-Myb for p210(BCR/ABL)-dependent leukemogenesis.
Project description:The molecular etiology of human progenitor reprogramming into self-renewing leukemia stem cells (LSC) has remained elusive. Although DNA sequencing has uncovered spliceosome gene mutations that promote alternative splicing and portend leukemic transformation, isoform diversity also may be generated by RNA editing mediated by adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR) enzymes that regulate stem cell maintenance. In this study, whole-transcriptome sequencing of normal, chronic phase, and serially transplantable blast crisis chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) progenitors revealed increased IFN-? pathway gene expression in concert with BCR-ABL amplification, enhanced expression of the IFN-responsive ADAR1 p150 isoform, and a propensity for increased adenosine-to-inosine RNA editing during CML progression. Lentiviral overexpression experiments demonstrate that ADAR1 p150 promotes expression of the myeloid transcription factor PU.1 and induces malignant reprogramming of myeloid progenitors. Moreover, enforced ADAR1 p150 expression was associated with production of a misspliced form of GSK3? implicated in LSC self-renewal. Finally, functional serial transplantation and shRNA studies demonstrate that ADAR1 knockdown impaired in vivo self-renewal capacity of blast crisis CML progenitors. Together these data provide a compelling rationale for developing ADAR1-based LSC detection and eradication strategies.
Project description:Constitutive activation of tyrosine kinases, such as the BCR/ABL fusion associated with t(9;22)(q34;q22), is a hallmark of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) syndromes in humans. Expression of BCR/ABL is both necessary and sufficient to cause a chronic myeloproliferative syndrome in murine bone marrow transplantation models, and absolutely depends on kinase activity. Progression of CML to acute leukemia (blast crisis) in humans has been associated with acquisition of secondary chromosomal translocations, including the t(7;11)(p15;p15) resulting in the NUP98/HOXA9 fusion protein. We demonstrate that BCR/ABL cooperates with NUP98/HOXA9 to cause blast crisis in a murine model. The phenotype depends both on expression of BCR/ABL and NUP98/HOXA9, but tumors retain sensitivity to the ABL inhibitor STI571 in vitro and in vivo. This paradigm is applicable to other constitutively activated tyrosine kinases such as TEL/PDGFbetaR. These experiments document cooperative effects between constitutively activated tyrosine kinases, which confer proliferative and survival properties to hematopoietic cells, with mutations that impair differentiation, such as the NUP98/HOXA9, giving rise to the acute myeloid leukemia (AML) phenotype. Furthermore, these data indicate that despite acquisition of additional mutations, CML blast crisis cells retain their dependence on BCR/ABL for proliferation and survival.
Project description:Recent evidence suggests that a rare population of self-renewing cancer stem cells (CSC) is responsible for cancer progression and therapeutic resistance. Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) represents an important paradigm for understanding the genetic and epigenetic events involved in CSC production. CML progresses from a chronic phase (CP) in hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) that harbor the BCR-ABL translocation, to blast crisis (BC), characterized by aberrant activation of beta-catenin within granulocyte-macrophage progenitors (GMP). A major barrier to predicting and inhibiting blast crisis transformation has been the identification of mechanisms driving beta-catenin activation. Here we show that BC CML myeloid progenitors, in particular GMP, serially transplant leukemia in immunocompromised mice and thus are enriched for leukemia stem cells (LSC). Notably, cDNA sequencing of Wnt/beta-catenin pathway regulatory genes, including adenomatous polyposis coli, GSK3beta, axin 1, beta-catenin, lymphoid enhancer factor-1, cyclin D1, and c-myc, revealed a novel in-frame splice deletion of the GSK3beta kinase domain in the GMP of BC samples that was not detectable by sequencing in blasts or normal progenitors. Moreover, BC CML progenitors with misspliced GSK3beta have enhanced beta-catenin expression as well as serial engraftment potential while reintroduction of full-length GSK3beta reduces both in vitro replating and leukemic engraftment. We propose that CP CML is initiated by BCR-ABL expression in an HSC clone but that progression to BC may include missplicing of GSK3beta in GMP LSC, enabling unphosphorylated beta-catenin to participate in LSC self-renewal. Missplicing of GSK3beta represents a unique mechanism for the emergence of BC CML LSC and might provide a novel diagnostic and therapeutic target.
Project description:Chronic myeloid leukemia responds well to therapy targeting the oncogenic fusion protein BCR-ABL1 in chronic phase, but is resistant to treatment after it progresses to blast crisis (BC). BC is characterized by elevated ?-catenin signaling in granulocyte macrophage progenitors (GMPs), which enables this population to function as leukemia stem cells (LSCs) and act as a reservoir for resistance. Because normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and LSCs depend on ?-catenin signaling for self-renewal, strategies to specifically target BC will require identification of drugable factors capable of distinguishing between self-renewal in BC LSCs and normal HSCs. Here, we show that the MAP kinase interacting serine/threonine kinase (MNK)-eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) axis is overexpressed in BC GMPs but not normal HSCs, and that MNK kinase-dependent eIF4E phosphorylation at serine 209 activates ?-catenin signaling in BC GMPs. Mechanistically, eIF4E overexpression and phosphorylation leads to increased ?-catenin protein synthesis, whereas MNK-dependent eIF4E phosphorylation is required for nuclear translocation and activation of ?-catenin. Accordingly, we found that a panel of small molecule MNK kinase inhibitors prevented eIF4E phosphorylation, ?-catenin activation, and BC LSC function in vitro and in vivo. Our findings identify the MNK-eIF4E axis as a specific and critical regulator of BC self-renewal, and suggest that pharmacologic inhibition of the MNK kinases may be therapeutically useful in BC chronic myeloid leukemia.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Musashi2(Msi2)-Numb pathway de-regulation is a molecular mechanism underlying the transition of chronic phase Ph?+?CML to deadly blast crisis, particularly in cases with a NUP98/HOXA9 fusion from a t(7;11)(p15;p15). This study provides new insights on the mechanisms cooperating in driving MSI2 over-expression and progression of Ph-positive CML. RESULTS: Herein we describe a t(7;11)(p15;p15) originating a NUP98 fusion with HOXA13, at 7p15, in a 39 year-old man in blast crisis of Ph-positive CML. Both MSI2 and HOXA9 were evaluated by quantitative RT-PCR in our patient and in a series of haematological malignancies. Up-regulation of both genes emerged only in the presence of NUP98/HOXA13 gene fusion. However, over-expression of MSI2, but not HOXA9, was found in 2 cases of Ph?+?blast crisis with additional chromosome aberrations other than t(7;11). To determine the mechanisms underlying MSI2 over-expression in our patient we performed Chromatin Immunoprecipitation and found that NUP98/HOXA13 fusion protein deregulates MSI2 gene by binding its promoter. CONCLUSIONS: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first molecular characterization of NUP98/HOXA13 fusion in blast crisis of Ph?+?CML. Our findings suggest cooperative mechanisms of MSI2 over-expression driven by HOXA proteins and strongly supports MSI2 as a prognostic marker and a candidate in target treatment of CML.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Genomic instability and clonal evolution are hallmarks of progressing chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Recently, we have shown that clonal evolution and blast crisis correlate with altered expression and activity of Separase, a cysteine endopeptidase that is a mitotic key player in chromosomal segregation and centriole duplication. Hyperactivation of Separase in human hematopoietic cells has been linked to a feedback mechanism that posttranslationally stimulates Separase proteolytic activity after imatinib therapy-induced reduction of Separase protein levels. METHODS AND RESULTS:In search for potential therapy-responsive transcriptional mechanisms we have investigated the role of the transcription factor c-MYB for Separase expression in CML cell lines (LAMA-84, K562, BV-173) and in clinical samples. Quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot immunostaining experiments revealed that c-MYB expression levels are decreased in an imatinib-dependent manner and positively correlate with Separase expression levels in cell lines and in clinical CML samples. RNA silencing of c-MYB expression in CML cell lines resulted in reduced Separase protein levels. Gelshift and ChIP assays confirmed that c-MYB binds to a putative c-MYB binding sequence located within the ESPL1 promoter. CONCLUSIONS:Our data suggest that ESPL1/Separase is a regulatory target of c-MYB. Therefore, c-MYB, known to be required for BCR-ABL-dependent transformation of hematopoietic progenitors and leukemogenesis, may also control the Separase-dependent fidelity of mitotic chromosomal segregation and centriole duplication essential for maintenance of genomic stability.
Project description:Chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML) can progress from a slow growing chronic phase to an aggressive blast crisis phase, but the molecular basis of this transition remains poorly understood. Here we have used mouse models of CML to show that disease progression is regulated by the Musashi-Numb signalling axis. Specifically, we find that the chronic phase is marked by high levels of Numb expression whereas the blast crisis phase has low levels of Numb expression, and that ectopic expression of Numb promotes differentiation and impairs advanced-phase disease in vivo. As a possible explanation for the decreased levels of Numb in the blast crisis phase, we show that NUP98-HOXA9, an oncogene associated with blast crisis CML, can trigger expression of the RNA-binding protein Musashi2 (Msi2), which in turn represses Numb. Notably, loss of Msi2 restores Numb expression and significantly impairs the development and propagation of blast crisis CML in vitro and in vivo. Finally we show that Msi2 expression is not only highly upregulated during human CML progression but is also an early indicator of poorer prognosis. These data show that the Musashi-Numb pathway can control the differentiation of CML cells, and raise the possibility that targeting this pathway may provide a new strategy for the therapy of aggressive leukaemias.
Project description:Relapse of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is triggered by stem cells with a reconstituting capacity similar to that of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and CML stem cells are a source of resistance in drug therapy with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Ecotropic viral integration site 1 (EVI1), a key transcription factor in HSC regulation, is known to predict poor outcomes in myeloid malignancies, however, incapability of prospective isolation of EVI1-high leukemic cells precludes the functional evaluation of intraindividual EVI1-high cells. Introduction of CML into Evi1-internal ribosomal entry site (IRES)-green fluorescent protein (GFP) knock-in mice, a versatile HSC-reporter strain, enables us to separate Evi1-high CML cells from the individual. Evi1-IRES-GFP allele models of CML in chronic phase (CML-CP), by retroviral overexpression of BCR-ABL and by crossing BCR-ABL transgenic mice, revealed that Evi1 is predominantly enriched in the stem cell fraction and associated with an enhanced proliferative as well as a leukemia-initiating capacity and that Evi1-high CML-CP cells exhibit resistance to TKIs. Overexpressing BCR-ABL and NUP98-HOXA9 in Evi1-IRES-GFP knock-in mice to model CML in blast crisis (CML-BC), in which Evi1-high cells turned to be a major population as opposed to a minor population in CML-CP models, showed that Evi1-high CML-BC cells have a greater potential to recapitulate the disease and appear resistant to TKIs. Furthermore, given that Evi1 heterozygosity ameliorates CML-CP and CML-BC development and that the combination of Evi1 and BCR-ABL causes acute myeloid leukemia resembling CML-BC, Evi1 could regulate CML development as a potent driver. In addition, in human CML-CP cases, we show that EVI1 is highly expressed in stem cell-enriched CD34+CD38-CD90+ fraction at single-cell level. This is the first report to clarify directly that Evi1-high leukemic cells themselves possess the superior potential to Evi1-low cells in oncogenic self-renewal, which highlights the role of Evi1 as a valuable and a functional marker of CML stem cells.