CD93 is expressed on chronic myeloid leukemia stem cells and identifies a quiescent population which persists after tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy.
ABSTRACT: The introduction of BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors has revolutionized the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). A major clinical aim remains the identification and elimination of low-level disease persistence, termed "minimal residual disease". The phenomenon of disease persistence suggests that despite targeted therapeutic approaches, BCR-ABL-independent mechanisms exist which sustain the survival of leukemic stem cells (LSCs). Although other markers of a primitive CML LSC population have been identified in the preclinical setting, only CD26 appears to offer clinical utility. Here we demonstrate consistent and selective expression of CD93 on a lin-CD34+CD38-CD90+ CML LSC population and show in vitro and in vivo data to suggest increased stem cell characteristics, as well as robust engraftment in patient-derived xenograft models in comparison with a CD93- CML stem/progenitor cell population, which fails to engraft. Through bulk and single-cell analyses of selected stem cell and cell survival-specific genes, we confirmed the quiescent character and demonstrate their persistence in a population of CML patient samples who demonstrate molecular relapse on TKI withdrawal. Taken together, our results identify that CD93 is consistently and selectively expressed on a lin-CD34+CD38-CD90+ CML LSC population with stem cell characteristics and may be an important indicator in determining poor TKI responders.
Project description:The most primitive hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)/progenitor cell (PC) population reported to date is characterized as being Lin-CD34+CD38-CD90+CD45R. We have a long-standing interest in comparing the characteristics of hematopoietic progenitor cell populations enriched from normal subjects and patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). In order to investigate further purification of HSCs and for potential targetable differences between the very primitive normal and CML stem/PCs, we have phenotypically compared the normal and CML Lin-CD34+CD38-CD90+CD45RA- HSC/PC populations. The additional antigens analyzed were HLA-DR, the receptor tyrosine kinases c-kit and Tie2, the interleukin-3 cytokine receptor, CD33 and the activation antigen CD69, the latter of which was recently reported to be selectively elevated in cell lines expressing the Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase. Notably, we found a strikingly low percentage of cells from the HSC/PC sub-population isolated from CML patients that were found to express the c-kit receptor (<1%) compared with the percentages of HSC/PCs expressing the c-kitR isolated from umbilical cord blood (50%) and mobilized peripheral blood (10%). Surprisingly, Tie2 receptor expression within the HSC/PC subset was extremely low from both normal and CML samples. Using in vivo transplantation studies, we provide evidence that HLA-DR, c-kitR, Tie2 and IL-3R may not be suitable markers for further partitioning of HSCs from the Lin-CD34+CD38-CD90+CD45RA- sub-population.
Project description:In an attempt to identify novel markers and immunological targets in leukemic stem cells (LSCs) in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), we screened bone marrow (BM) samples from patients with AML (n = 274) or CML (n = 97) and controls (n = 288) for expression of cell membrane antigens on CD34+/CD38- and CD34+/CD38+ cells by multicolor flow cytometry. In addition, we established messenger RNA expression profiles in purified sorted CD34+/CD38- and CD34+/CD38+ cells using gene array and quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Aberrantly expressed markers were identified in all cohorts. In CML, CD34+/CD38- LSCs exhibited an almost invariable aberration profile, defined as CD25+/CD26+/CD56+/CD93+/IL-1RAP+. By contrast, in patients with AML, CD34+/CD38- cells variably expressed "aberrant" membrane antigens, including CD25 (48%), CD96 (40%), CD371 (CLL-1; 68%), and IL-1RAP (65%). With the exception of a subgroup of FLT3 internal tandem duplication-mutated patients, AML LSCs did not exhibit CD26. All other surface markers and target antigens detected on AML and/or CML LSCs, including CD33, CD44, CD47, CD52, CD105, CD114, CD117, CD133, CD135, CD184, and roundabout-4, were also found on normal BM stem cells. However, several of these surface targets, including CD25, CD33, and CD123, were expressed at higher levels on CD34+/CD38- LSCs compared with normal BM stem cells. Moreover, antibody-mediated immunological targeting through CD33 or CD52 resulted in LSC depletion in vitro and a substantially reduced LSC engraftment in NOD.Cg-PrkdcscidIl2rgtm1Wjl/SzJ (NSG) mice. Together, we have established surface marker and target expression profiles of AML LSCs and CML LSCs, which should facilitate LSC enrichment, diagnostic LSC phenotyping, and development of LSC-eradicating immunotherapies.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Expression of Bcr-Abl in hematopoietic stem cells is sufficient to cause chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) induce molecular remission in the majority of CML patients. However, the disease driving stem cell population is not fully targeted by TKI therapy, and leukemic stem cells (LSC) capable of re-inducing the disease can persist. Single-cell RNA-sequencing technology recently identified an enriched inflammatory gene signature with TNFα and TGFβ being activated in TKI persisting quiescent LSC. Here, we studied the effects of human TNFα antibody infliximab (IFX), which has been shown to induce anti-inflammatory effects in mice, combined with TKI treatment on LSC function. METHODS:We first performed GSEA-pathway analysis using our microarray data of murine LSK cells (lin-; Sca-1+; c-kit+) from the SCLtTA/Bcr-Abl CML transgenic mouse model. Bcr-Abl positive cell lines were generated by retroviral transduction. Clonogenic potential was assessed by CFU (colony forming unit). CML mice were treated with nilotinib or nilotinib plus infliximab, and serial transplantation experiments were performed. RESULTS:Likewise to human CML, TNFα signaling was specifically active in murine CML stem cells, and ectopic expression of Bcr-Abl in murine and human progenitor cell lines induced TNFα expression. In vitro exposure to human (IFX) or murine (MP6-XT22) TNFα antibody reduced clonogenic growth of CML cells. Interestingly, TNFα antibody treatment enhanced TKI-induced effects on immature cells in vitro. Additionally, in transplant and serial transplant experiments, using our transgenic CML mouse model, we could subsequently show that IFX therapy boosted TKI-induced effects and further reduced the proportion of malignant stem cells in vivo. CONCLUSION:TNFα signaling is induced in CML stem cells, and anti-inflammatory therapy enhances TKI-induced decline of LSC, confirming that successful targeting of persisting CML stem cells can be enhanced by addressing their malignant microenvironment simultaneously.
Project description:BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are effective against chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), but they rarely eliminate CML stem cells. Disease relapse is common upon therapy cessation, even in patients with complete molecular responses. Furthermore, once CML progresses to blast crisis (BC), treatment outcomes are dismal. We hypothesized that concomitant targeting of BCL-2 and BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase could overcome these limitations. We demonstrate increased BCL-2 expression at the protein level in bone marrow cells, particularly in Lin(-)Sca-1(+)cKit(+) cells of inducible CML in mice, as determined by CyTOF mass cytometry. Further, selective inhibition of BCL-2, aided by TKI-mediated MCL-1 and BCL-XL inhibition, markedly decreased leukemic Lin(-)Sca-1(+)cKit(+) cell numbers and long-term stem cell frequency and prolonged survival in a murine CML model. Additionally, this combination effectively eradicated CD34(+)CD38(-), CD34(+)CD38(+), and quiescent stem/progenitor CD34(+) cells from BC CML patient samples. Our results suggest that BCL-2 is a key survival factor for CML stem/progenitor cells and that combined inhibition of BCL-2 and BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase has the potential to significantly improve depth of response and cure rates of chronic-phase and BC CML.
Project description:Although there are now fewer allo-SCTs performed for CML, leukemic relapse post transplant remains a persistent problem. To better define clinical and biological parameters determining postrelapse outcome, we studied 59 patients with CML relapsing after HLA-identical sibling allo-SCT between 1993 and 2008. Eighteen (30.5%) were transplanted in advanced phase and 41 (69.5%) in chronic phase. With a median follow-up from relapse of 7.9 years, 5-year post relapse survival (PRS) was 62%. Multivariate analysis found disease status at transplant, time to diagnosis of relapse from transplant and pretransplant tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) use as significant factors associated with PRS. Analysis of BCR-ABL transcript expression in the hematopoietic progenitor compartment was performed in 36 patients (22 relapsed, 8 non-relapsed and 6 TKI alone controls). Patients with BCR-ABL expression in their early hematopoietic stem cell compartment (Lineage(-)CD34(+)CD38(-)CD90(+)) had worse survival irrespective of the disease status. We conclude that disease status remains the strongest clinical prognostic factor for PRS in CML following allo-SCT. The persistence of BCR-ABL expression in the progenitor cell compartment in some patients after SCT emphasizes the need to target CML-leukemia stem cells.
Project description:Imatinib therapy, which targets the oncogene product BCR-ABL, has transformed chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) from a life-threatening disease into a chronic condition. Most patients, however, harbor residual leukemia cells, and disease recurrence usually occurs when imatinib is discontinued. Although various mechanisms to explain leukemia cell persistence have been proposed, the critical question from a therapeutic standpoint--whether disease persistence is BCR-ABL dependent or independent--has not been answered. Here, we report that human CML stem cells do not depend on BCR-ABL activity for survival and are thus not eliminated by imatinib therapy. Imatinib inhibited BCR-ABL activity to the same degree in all stem (CD34+CD38-, CD133+) and progenitor (CD34+CD38+) cells and in quiescent and cycling progenitors from newly diagnosed CML patients. Although short-term in vitro imatinib treatment reduced the expansion of CML stem/progenitors, cytokine support permitted growth and survival in the absence of BCR-ABL activity that was comparable to that of normal stem/progenitor counterparts. Our findings suggest that primitive CML cells are not oncogene addicted and that therapies that biochemically target BCR-ABL will not eliminate CML stem cells.
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:Understanding leukemia heterogeneity is critical for the development of curative treatments as the failure to eliminate therapy-persistent leukemic stem cells (LSCs) may result in disease relapse. Here we have combined high-throughput immunophenotypic screens with large-scale single-cell gene expression analysis to define the heterogeneity within the LSC population in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients at diagnosis and following conventional tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) treatment. Our results reveal substantial heterogeneity within the putative LSC population in CML at diagnosis and demonstrate differences in response to subsequent TKI treatment between distinct subpopulations. Importantly, LSC subpopulations with myeloid and proliferative molecular signatures are proportionally reduced at a higher extent in response to TKI therapy compared with subfractions displaying primitive and quiescent signatures. Additionally, cell surface expression of the CML stem cell markers CD25, CD26, and IL1RAP is high in all subpopulations at diagnosis but downregulated and unevenly distributed across subpopulations in response to TKI treatment. The most TKI-insensitive cells of the LSC compartment can be captured within the CD45RA- fraction and further defined as positive for CD26 in combination with an aberrant lack of cKIT expression. Together, our results expose a considerable heterogeneity of the CML stem cell population and propose a Lin-CD34+CD38-/lowCD45RA-cKIT-CD26+ population as a potential therapeutic target for improved therapy response.
Project description:Mouse hematopoiesis is initiated by long-term hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) that differentiate into a series of multipotent progenitors that exhibit progressively diminished self-renewal ability. In human hematopoiesis, populations enriched for HSC activity have been identified, as have downstream lineage-committed progenitors, but multipotent progenitor activity has not been uniquely isolated. Previous reports indicate that human HSC are enriched in Lin-CD34+CD38- cord blood and bone marrow and express CD90. We demonstrate that the Lin-CD34+CD38- fraction of cord blood and bone marrow can be subdivided into three subpopulations: CD90+CD45RA-, CD90-CD45RA-, and CD90-CD45RA+. Utilizing in vivo transplantation studies and complementary in vitro assays, we demonstrate that the Lin-CD34+CD38-CD90+CD45RA- cord blood fraction contains HSC and isolate this activity to as few as 10 purified cells. Furthermore, we report the first prospective isolation of a population of candidate human multipotent progenitors, Lin-CD34+CD38-CD90-CD45RA- cord blood.
Project description:Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is a clonal myeloproliferative disorder characterized by the presence of a fusion oncogene BCR-ABL, which encodes a protein with constitutive TK activity. The implementation of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) marked a major advance in CML therapy; however, there are problems with current treatment. For example, relapse occurs when these drugs are discontinued in the majority of patients who have achieved a complete molecular response on TKI and these agents are less effective in patients with mutations in the BCR-ABL kinase domain. Importantly, TKI can effectively target proliferating mature cells, but do not eradicate quiescent leukaemic stem cells (LSCs), therefore allowing disease persistence despite treatment. It is essential that alternative strategies are used to target the LSC population. BCR-ABL activation is responsible for the modulation of different signalling pathways, which allows the LSC fraction to evade cell death. Several pathways have been shown to be modulated by BCR-ABL, including PI3K/AKT/mTOR, JAK-STAT and autophagy signalling pathways. Targeting components of these survival pathways, alone or in combination with TKI, therefore represents an attractive potential therapeutic approach for targeting the LSC. However, many pathways are also active in normal stem cells. Therefore, potential targets must be validated to effectively eradicate CML stem cells while sparing normal counterparts. This review summarizes the main pathways modulated in CML stem cells, the recent developments and the use of novel drugs to target components in these pathways which may be used to target the LSC population.This article is part of a themed section on Emerging Therapeutic Aspects in Oncology. To view the other articles in this section visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bph.2013.169.issue-8.