Combined epigenetic and metabolic treatments overcome differentiation blockade in acute myeloid leukemia.
ABSTRACT: A hallmark of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the inability of self-renewing malignant cells to mature into a non-dividing terminally differentiated state. This differentiation block has been linked to dysregulation of multiple cellular processes, including transcriptional, chromatin, and metabolic regulation. The transcription factor HOXA9 and the histone demethylase LSD1 are examples of such regulators that promote differentiation blockade in AML. To identify metabolic targets that interact with LSD1 inhibition to promote myeloid maturation, we screened a small molecule library to identify druggable substrates. We found that differentiation caused by LSD1 inhibition is enhanced by combined perturbation of purine nucleotide salvage and de novo lipogenesis pathways, and identified multiple lines of evidence to support the specificity of these pathways and suggest a potential basis of how perturbation of these pathways may interact synergistically to promote myeloid differentiation. In sum, these findings suggest potential drug combination strategies in the treatment of AML.
Project description:The histone demethylase lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1 or KDM1A) has emerged as a candidate therapeutic target in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML); tranylcypromine-derivative inhibitors induce loss of clonogenic activity and promote differentiation, in particular in the MLL-translocated molecular subtype of AML. In AML, the use of drugs in combination often delivers superior clinical activity. To identify genes and cellular pathways that collaborate with LSD1 to maintain the leukaemic phenotype, and which could be targeted by combination therapies, we performed a genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 dropout screen. We identified multiple components of the amino acid sensing arm of mTORC1 signalling-RRAGA, MLST8, WDR24 and LAMTOR2-as cellular sensitizers to LSD1 inhibition. Knockdown of mTORC1 components, or mTORC1 pharmacologic inhibition, in combination with LSD1 inhibition enhanced differentiation in both cell line and primary cell settings, in vitro and in vivo, and substantially reduced the frequency of clonogenic primary human AML cells in a modelled minimal residual disease setting. Synergistic upregulation of a set of transcription factor genes associated with terminal monocytic lineage differentiation was observed. Thus, dual mTORC1 and LSD1 inhibition represents a candidate combination approach for enhanced differentiation in MLL-translocated AML which could be evaluated in early phase clinical trials.
Project description:Meningioma 1 (MN1) is an independent prognostic marker for normal karyotype acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with high expression linked to all-trans retinoic acid resistance and poor survival. MN1 is also a potent and sufficient oncogene in murine leukemia models, strongly dependent on the MEIS1/AbdB-like HOX protein complex to transform common myeloid progenitors, block myeloid differentiation, and promote leukemic stem cell self-renewal. To identify key genes and pathways underlying leukemic activity, we functionally assessed MN1 cell phenotypic heterogeneity, revealing leukemic and non-leukemic subsets. Using gene expression profiling of these subsets combined with previously published comparisons of full-length MN1 and mutants with varying leukemogenic activity, we identified candidate genes critical to leukemia. Functional analysis identified Hlf and Hoxa9 as critical to MN1 in vitro proliferation, self-renewal and impaired myeloid differentiation. Although critical to transformation, Meis1 knockdown had little impact on these properties in vitro. However, we identified Meis2 as critical to MN1-induced leukemia, with essential roles in proliferation, self-renewal, impairment of differentiation and disease progression in vitro and in vivo. Here, we provide evidence of phenotypic and functional hierarchy in MN1-induced leukemic cells, characterise contributions of Hlf, Hoxa9 and Meis1 to in vitro leukemic properties, and reveal Meis2 as a novel player in MN1-induced leukemogenesis.
Project description:Pharmacologic inhibition of LSD1 promotes blast cell differentiation in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with MLL translocations. The assumption has been that differentiation is induced through blockade of LSD1's histone demethylase activity. However, we observed that rapid, extensive, drug-induced changes in transcription occurred without genome-wide accumulation of the histone modifications targeted for demethylation by LSD1 at sites of LSD1 binding and that a demethylase-defective mutant rescued LSD1 knockdown AML cells as efficiently as wild-type protein. Rather, LSD1 inhibitors disrupt the interaction of LSD1 and RCOR1 with the SNAG-domain transcription repressor GFI1, which is bound to a discrete set of enhancers located close to transcription factor genes that regulate myeloid differentiation. Physical separation of LSD1/RCOR1 from GFI1 is required for drug-induced differentiation. The consequent inactivation of GFI1 leads to increased enhancer histone acetylation within hours, which directly correlates with the upregulation of nearby subordinate genes.
Project description:Ectopic expression of the oncogenic transcription factor HoxA9 is a major cause of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here, we demonstrate that HoxA9 is a specific substrate of granule proteases. Protease knockout allowed the comprehensive determination of genome-wide HoxA9 binding sites by chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing in primary murine cells and a human AML cell line. The kinetics of enhancer activity and transcription rates in response to alterations of an inducible HoxA9 were determined. This permitted identification of HoxA9-controlled enhancers and promoters, allocation to their respective transcription units, and discrimination against HoxA9-bound, but unresponsive, elements. HoxA9 triggered an elaborate positive-feedback loop that drove expression of the complete Hox-A locus. In addition, it controlled key oncogenic transcription factors Myc and Myb and directly induced the cell cycle regulators Cdk6 and CyclinD1, as well as telomerase, drawing the essential blueprint for perturbation of proliferation by leukemogenic HoxA9 expression.
Project description:While acute myeloid leukemia (AML) comprises many disparate genetic subtypes, one shared hallmark is the arrest of leukemic myeloblasts at an immature and self-renewing stage of development. Therapies that overcome differentiation arrest represent a powerful treatment strategy. We leveraged the observation that the majority of AML, despite their genetically heterogeneity, share in the expression of HoxA9, a gene normally downregulated during myeloid differentiation. Using a conditional HoxA9 model system, we performed a high-throughput phenotypic screen and defined compounds that overcame differentiation blockade. Target identification led to the unanticipated discovery that inhibition of the enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) enables myeloid differentiation in human and mouse AML models. In vivo, DHODH inhibitors reduced leukemic cell burden, decreased levels of leukemia-initiating cells, and improved survival. These data demonstrate the role of DHODH as a metabolic regulator of differentiation and point to its inhibition as a strategy for overcoming differentiation blockade in AML.
Project description:Lsd1KO and ATRA treatment in Hoxa9/Meis1- and MN1-transformed myeloid progenitor cells LSD1 has emerged as a promising epigenetic target in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Inhibition of LSD1 has been shown to induce differentiation and facilitate the responsiveness of AML cells to all-trans retinoic acid. We used two murine AML models based on retroviral overexpression of Hoxa9/Meis1 (H9M) or MN1 to study the effect of Lsd1 knockout in AML. The conditional knockout of Lsd1 resulted in differentiation with both granulocytic and monocytic features in H9M-induced AML cells and enhanced their responsiveness towards ATRA treatment, which was not seen in MN1-driven AML. It also extended the survival of mice with H9M-driven AML. To identify molecular changes associated with the loss of Lsd1, we performed whole transcriptome analysis by RNA sequencing of H9M and MN1 Lsd1 fl/fl (Ctrl) and Lsd1cKO cells with or without ATRA treatment. The experiment was done in triplicates. The conditional knockout led to a broad increase in the expression of multiple genes regulated by the important myeloid transcription factors GFI1 and PU.1. These include the transcription factors GFI1B and IRF8, which may be relevant for the observed differentiation response. Overall design: Examination of the effect of LSD1 knockout and ATRA treatment in two murine AML models
Project description:LSD1 (Lysine Specific Demethylase1)/KDM1A (Lysine Demethylase 1A), a flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD)-dependent histone H3K4/K9 demethylase, sustains oncogenic potential of leukemia stem cells in primary human leukemia cells. However, the pro-differentiation and anti-proliferation effects of LSD1 inhibition in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are not yet fully understood. Here, we report that small hairpin RNA (shRNA) mediated LSD1 inhibition causes a remarkable transcriptional activation of myeloid lineage marker genes (CD11b/ITGAM and CD86), reduction of cell proliferation and decrease of clonogenic ability of human AML cells. Cell surface expression of CD11b and CD86 is significantly and dynamically increased in human AML cells upon sustained LSD1 inhibition. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and quantitative PCR (ChIP-qPCR) analyses of histone marks revealed that there is a specific increase of H3K4me2 modification and an accompanied increase of H3K4me3 modification at the respective CD11b and CD86 promoter region, whereas the global H3K4me2 level remains constant. Consistently, inhibition of LSD1 in vivo significantly blocks tumor growth and induces a prominent increase of CD11b and CD86. Taken together, our results demonstrate the anti-tumor properties of LSD1 inhibition on human AML cell line and mouse xenograft model. Our findings provide mechanistic insights into the LSD1 functions in controlling both differentiation and proliferation in AML.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous hematopoietic malignancy characterized by the accumulation of incompletely differentiated progenitor cells (blasts) in the bone marrow and blood, and by suppression of normal hematopoiesis. It has recently become apparent that the AML genome is characterized by recurrent mutations and dysregulations in epigenetic regulators. These mutations frequently occur before the onset of full blown leukemia, at the pre-leukemic phase, and persist in residual disease that remains after therapeutic intervention, thus suggesting that targeting the AML epigenome may help to eradicate minimal residual disease and prevent relapse. Within the AML epigenome, lysine-specific demethylase 1 A (LSD1) is a histone demethylase that is found frequently overexpressed, albeit not mutated, in AML. LSD1 is a required constituent of critical transcription repressor complexes like CoREST and nucleosome remodeling and deacetylase (NuRD), and abrogation of LSD1 expression results in impaired self-renewal and proliferation, and increased differentiation and apoptosis in AML models and primary cells, particularly in AMLs with MLL- and AML1-rearrangements, or erythroid and megakaryoblastic differentiation block. On this basis, a number of LSD1 inhibitors have been developed in the past decade, and few of them are currently being tested in clinical trials for patients with AML, along with other malignancies. To date, the most promising application of this therapeutic strategy appears to be combination therapy of LSD1 inhibitors with all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) to reactivate myeloid differentiation in cells that are not spontaneously susceptible to ATRA treatment. In this review, we provide an overview of LSD1 function in normal hematopoiesis and leukemia, and of the current clinical application of LSD1 inhibitors for the treatment of patients with AML.
Project description:The histone demethylase LSD1 (KDM1A) demethylates mono- and di-methylated (Me2) lysine (K) 4 on histone H3. High LSD1 expression blocks differentiation and confers a poor prognosis in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here, treatment with the novel LSD1 antagonist SP2509 attenuated the binding of LSD1 with the corepressor CoREST, increased the permissive H3K4Me3 mark on the target gene promoters, and increased the levels of p21, p27 and CCAAT/enhancer binding protein ? in cultured AML cells. In addition, SP2509 treatment or LSD1 shRNA inhibited the colony growth of AML cells. SP2509 also induced morphological features of differentiation in the cultured and primary AML blasts. SP2509 induced more apoptosis of AML cells expressing mutant NPM1 than mixed-lineage leukemia fusion oncoproteins. Treatment with SP2509 alone significantly improved the survival of immune-depleted mice following tail-vein infusion and engraftment of cultured or primary human AML cells. Co-treatment with pan-HDAC inhibitor (HDI) panobinostat (PS) and SP2509 was synergistically lethal against cultured and primary AML blasts. Compared with each agent alone, co-treatment with SP2509 and PS significantly improved the survival of the mice engrafted with the human AML cells, without exhibiting any toxicity. Collectively, these findings show that the combination of LSD1 antagonist and pan-HDI is a promising therapy warranting further testing against AML.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally, are involved in many complex cellular processes. Several miRNAs are differentially expressed in hematopoietic tissues and play important roles in normal differentiation, but, when aberrantly regulated, contribute to the abnormal proliferation and differentiation of leukemic cells. Recently, we reported that a small subset of miRNAs is differentially expressed in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) blasts and is modulated by treatment with all-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA). In particular, PML/RAR?-positive blasts from APL patients display lower levels of miRNA let-7c, a member of the let-7 family, than normal promyelocytes and its expression increases after ATRA treatment. In this study, we investigated the effects of let-7c in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. We found that ectopic expression of let-7c promotes granulocytic differentiation of AML cell lines and primary blasts. Moreover, we identified PBX2, a well-known homeodomain protein whose aberrant expression enhances HoxA9-dependent leukemogenesis, as a novel let-7c target that may contribute to the AML phenotype. Together, these studies raise the possibility that perturbation of the let-7c-PBX2 pathway may have a therapeutic value in AML.