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Functional diversity of inhibitors tackling the differentiation blockage of MLL-rearranged leukemia.

ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION:The chromosomal rearrangements of the mixed-lineage leukemia gene MLL (KMT2A) have been extensively characterized as a potent oncogenic driver in leukemia. For its oncogenic function, most MLL-fusion proteins exploit the multienzyme super elongation complex leading to elevated expression of MLL target genes. High expression of MLL target genes overwrites the normal hematopoietic differentiation program, resulting in undifferentiated blasts characterized by the capacity to self-renew. Although extensive resources devoted to increased understanding of therapeutic targets to overcome de-differentiation in ALL/AML, the inter-dependencies of targets are still not well described. The majority of inhibitors potentially interfering with MLL-fusion protein driven transformation have been characterized in individual studies, which so far hindered their direct cross-comparison. METHODS:In our study, we characterized head-to-head clinical stage inhibitors for BET, DHODH, DOT1L as well as two novel inhibitors for CDK9 and the Menin-MLL interaction with a focus on differentiation induction. We profiled those inhibitors for global gene expression effects in a large cell line panel and examined cellular responses such as inhibition of proliferation, apoptosis induction, cell cycle arrest, surface marker expression, morphological phenotype changes, and phagocytosis as functional differentiation readout. We also verified the combination potential of those inhibitors on proliferation and differentiation level. RESULTS:Our analysis revealed significant differences in differentiation induction and in modulating MLL-fusion target gene expression. We observed Menin-MLL and DOT1L inhibitors act very specifically on MLL-fused leukemia cell lines, whereas inhibitors of BET, DHODH and P-TEFb have strong effects beyond MLL-fusions. Significant differentiation effects were detected for Menin-MLL, DOT1L, and DHODH inhibitors, whereas BET and CDK9 inhibitors primarily induced apoptosis in AML/ALL cancer models. For the first time, we explored combination potential of the abovementioned inhibitors with regards to overcoming the differentiation blockage. CONCLUSION:Our findings show substantial diversity in the molecular activities of those inhibitors and provide valuable insights into the further developmental potential as single agents or in combinations in MLL-fused leukemia.

SUBMITTER: Brzezinka K 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6599250 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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