Project description:Although the study of natural killer (NK) cell alloreactivity has been dominated by studies of killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIRs), we hypothesized that NKG2A and LIR-1, present on 53% +/- 13% and 36% +/- 18% of normal NK cells, respectively, play roles in the NK cell killing of primary leukemia targets. KIR(-) cells, which compose nearly half of the circulating NK cell population, exhibit tolerance to primary leukemia targets, suggesting signaling through other inhibitory receptors. Both acute myelogenous leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia targets were rendered susceptible to lysis by fresh resting KIR(-) NK cells when inhibitory receptor-major histocompatibility class I interactions were blocked by pan-HLA antibodies, demonstrating that these cells are functionally competent. Blockade of a single inhibitory receptor resulted in slightly increased killing, whereas combined LIR-1 and NKG2A blockade consistently resulted in increased NK cell cytotoxicity. Dual blockade of NKG2A and LIR-1 led to significant killing of targets by resting KIR(-) NK cells, demonstrating that this population is not hyporesponsive. Together these results suggest that alloreactivity of a significant fraction of KIR(-) NK cells is mediated by NKG2A and LIR-1. Thus strategies to interrupt NKG2A and LIR-1 in combination with anti-KIR blockade hold promise for exploiting NK cell therapy in acute leukemias.
Project description:Central nervous system acute lymphoblastic leukemia (CNS-ALL) is a major clinical problem. Prophylactic therapy is neurotoxic, and a third of the relapses involve the CNS. Increased expression of interleukin 15 (IL-15) in leukemic blasts is associated with increased risk for CNS-ALL. Using in vivo models for CNS leukemia caused by mouse T-ALL and human xenografts of ALL cells, we demonstrate that expression of IL-15 in leukemic cells is associated with the activation of natural killer (NK) cells. This activation limits the outgrowth of leukemic cells in the periphery, but less in the CNS because NK cells are excluded from the CNS. Depletion of NK cells in NOD/SCID mice enabled combined systemic and CNS leukemia of human pre-B-ALL. The killing of human leukemia lymphoblasts by NK cells depended on the expression of the NKG2D receptor. Analysis of bone marrow (BM) diagnostic samples derived from children with subsequent CNS-ALL revealed a significantly high expression of the NKG2D and NKp44 receptors. We suggest that the CNS may be an immunologic sanctuary protected from NK-cell activity. CNS prophylactic therapy may thus be needed with emerging NK cell-based therapies against hematopoietic malignancies.
Project description:Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) still frequently recurs after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), underscoring the need to improve the graft-versus-leukemia (GvL) effect. Natural killer (NK) cells reconstitute in the first months following HSCT when leukemia burden is at its lowest, but ALL cells have been shown to be resistant to NK cell-mediated killing. We show here that this resistance is overcome by NK cell stimulation with TLR-9-activated plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs). NK cell priming with activated pDCs resulted in TRAIL and CD69 up-regulation on NK cells and IFN-? production. NK cell activation was dependent on IFN-? produced by pDCs, but was not reproduced by IFN-? alone. ALL killing was further enhanced by inhibition of KIR engagement. We showed that ALL lysis was mainly mediated by TRAIL engagement, while the release of cytolytic granules was involved when ALL expressed NK cell activating receptor ligands. Finally, adoptive transfers of activated-pDCs in ALL-bearing humanized mice delayed the leukemia onset and cure 30% of mice. Our data therefore demonstrate that TLR-9 activated pDCs are a powerful tool to overcome ALL resistance to NK cell-mediated killing and to reinforce the GvL effect of HSCT. These results open new therapeutic avenues to prevent relapse in children with ALL.
Project description:Natural killer cells (NK) are essential for the elimination of resistant acute myeloid and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (AML and ALL) cells. NK cell-based immunotherapies have already successfully entered for clinical trials, but limitations due to immune escape mechanisms were identified. Therefore, we extended our established NK cell protocol by integration of the previously investigated powerful trispecific immunoligand ULBP2-aCD19-aCD33 [the so-called triplebodies (TBs)] to improve the anti-leukemic specificity of activated NK cells. IL-2-driven expansion led to strongly elevated natural killer group 2 member D (NKG2D) expressions on donor NK cells which promote the binding to ULBP2+ TBs. Similarly, CD33 expression on these NK cells could be detected. Dual-specific targeting and elimination were investigated against the B-cell precursor leukemia cell line BV-173 and patient blasts, which were positive for myeloid marker CD33 and B lymphoid marker CD19 exclusively presented on biphenotypic B/myeloid leukemia's. Cytotoxicity assays demonstrated improved killing properties of NK cells pre-coated with TBs compared to untreated controls. Specific NKG2D blocking on those NK cells in response to TBs diminished this killing activity. On the contrary, the observed upregulation of surface CD33 on about 28.0% of the NK cells decreased their viability in response to TBs during cytotoxic interaction of effector and target cells. Similar side effects were also detected against CD33+ T- and CD19+ B-cells. Very preliminary proof of principle results showed promising effects using NK cells and TBs against primary leukemic cells. In summary, we demonstrated a promising strategy for redirecting primary human NK cells in response to TBs against leukemia, which may lead to a future progress in NK cell-based immunotherapies.
Project description:The Ikaros gene encodes a Krüppel-like zinc-finger transcription factor involved in hematopoiesis regulation. Ikaros has been established as one of the most clinically relevant tumor suppressors in several hematological malignancies. In fact, expression of dominant negative Ikaros isoforms is associated with adult B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, acute myeloid leukemia and adult and juvenile chronic myeloid leukemia. Here, we report the isolation of a novel, non-canonical Ikaros splice variant, called Ikaros 11 (Ik11). Ik11 is structurally related to known dominant negative Ikaros isoforms, due to the lack of a functional DNA-binding domain. Interestingly, Ik11 is the first Ikaros splice variant missing the transcriptional activation domain. Indeed, we demonstrated that Ik11 works as a dominant negative protein, being able to dimerize with Ikaros DNA-binding isoforms and inhibit their functions, at least in part by retaining them in the cytoplasm. Notably, we demonstrated that Ik11 is the first dominant negative Ikaros isoform to be aberrantly expressed in B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Aberrant expression of Ik11 interferes with both proliferation and apoptotic pathways, providing a mechanism for Ik11 involvement in tumor pathogenesis. Thus, Ik11 could represent a novel marker for B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders.
Project description:Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children around the globe. Mexico City has one of the highest incidence rates of childhood leukemia worldwide with 49.5 cases per million children under the age of 15 which is similar to that reported for Hispanic populations living in the United States. In addition, it has been noted a dismal prognosis in Mexican and Hispanic ALL pediatric population. Although ALL, like cancer in general, has its origins in endogenous, exogenous, and genetic factors, several studies have shown that the immune system also plays a deterministic role in cancer development. Among various elements of the immune system, T lymphocytes and NK cells seem to dominate the immune response against leukemia. The aim of the present study was to perform a phenotypic and functional characterization of NK cells in ALL Mexican children at the moment of diagnosis and before treatment initiation. A case-control study was conducted by the Mexican Interinstitutional Group for the Identification of the Causes of Childhood Leukemia (MIGICCL). 41 cases were incident ALL children younger than 17 years old and residents of Mexico City. 14 controls were children without leukemia, matched by age and sex with cases. NK cell function was evaluated by degranulation assays towards K562 cells and SLAM-associated protein (SAP) expression was measured by intracellular staining. All assays were performed using peripheral blood mononuclear cells from controls and patients. The results indicate that NK mediated cytotoxicity, measured by CD107a degranulation assays in response to K562 cells, was reduced in ALL patients compared to controls. Interestingly, an impaired NK cell killing of target cells was not equally distributed among ALL patients. In contrast to patients classified as high-risk, standard-risk patients did not display a significant reduction in NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Moreover, patients presenting a leukocyte count ? 50,000xmm3 displayed a reduction in NK-cell mediated cytotoxicity and a reduction in SAP expression, indicating a positive correlation between a reduced SAP expression and an impaired NK cell-mediated citotoxicity. In the present study it was observed that unlike patients with standard-risk, NK cells from children presenting high-risk ALL, harbor an impaired cytotoxicity towards K562 at diagnosis. In addition, NK cell function was observed to be compromised in patients with a leukocyte count ?50,000xmm3, where also it was noticed a decreased expression of SAP compared to patients with a leukocyte count <50,000xmm3. These data indicate NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity is not equally affected in ALL patients, nevertheless a positive correlation between low SAP expression and decreased NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity was observed in ALL patients with a leukocyte count ?50,000xmm3. Finally, an abnormal NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity may represent a prognostic factor for high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Project description:The anti-leukemia activity of NK cells helps prevent relapse during hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in leukemia patients. However, the factors that determine the sensitivity or resistance of leukemia cells in the context of NK-mediated cytotoxicity are not well-established. Here, we performed a genome-wide CRISPR screen in the human chronic-myelogenous-leukemia (CML) cell line K562 to identify genes that regulate the vulnerability of leukemia cells to killing by primary human NK cells. The distribution of guide RNAs (gRNAs) in K562 cells that survived co-incubation with NK cells showed that loss of NCR3LG1, which encodes the ligand of the natural cytotoxicity receptor NKp30, protected K562 cells from killing. In contrast, loss of genes that regulate the antigen-presentation and interferon-?-signaling pathways increased the vulnerability of K562 cells. The addition of IFN-? neutralizing antibody increased the susceptibility of K562 cells to NK-mediated killing. Upregulation of MHC class I on K562 cells after co-incubation with NK cells was dependent on IFNGR2. Analysis of RNA-seq data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) showed that low IFNGR2 expression in cancer tissues was associated with improved overall survival in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and Kidney Renal Clear Cell Carcinoma (KIRC) patients. Our results, showing that the upregulation of MHC class I by NK-derived IFN-? leads to resistance to NK cytotoxicity, suggest that targeting IFN-? responses might be a promising approach to enhance NK cell anti-cancer efficacy.
Project description:Precursor Natural Killer (NK) cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma is a rare entity defined clearly by WHO (2008 WHO classification). However, the pathobiology of this subset of neoplasms is not clearly defined. There is wide disparity in the literature regarding the nomenclature and diagnostic criteria used to diagnose and characterize acute leukemias of presumed NK cell origin. In the present article we report a case of Precursor NK cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma and review the cases reported after 2008 WHO classification came into vogue, as acute leukemias of NK cell origin.
Project description:Relapsed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a significant post-transplant complication lacking standard treatment and associated with a poor prognosis. Cellular therapy, which is already widely used as a treatment for several hematological malignancies, could be a potential treatment alternative. Natural killer (NK) cells play an important role in relapse control but can be inhibited by the leukemia cells highly positive for HLA class I. In order to restore NK cell activity after their ex vivo activation, NK cells can be combined with conditioning target cells. In this study, we tested NK cell activity against KG1a (AML cell line) with and without two types of pretreatment-Ara-C treatment that induced NKG2D ligands (increased activating signal) and/or blocking of HLA-KIR (killer-immunoglobulin-like receptors) interaction (decreased inhibitory signal). Both treatments improved NK cell killing activity. Compared with target cell killing of NK cells alone (38%), co-culture with Ara-C treated KG1a target cells increased the killing to 80%. Anti-HLA blocking antibody treatment increased the proportion of dead KG1a cells to 53%. Interestingly, the use of the combination treatment improved the killing potential to led to the death of 85% of KG1a cells. The combination of Ara-C and ex vivo activation of NK cells has the potential to be a feasible approach to treat relapsed AML after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation.
Project description:Drug-resistant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients do not respond to standard chemotherapy, and an urgent need exists to develop new treatment strategies. Our study exploited the presence of B-cell activating factor receptor (BAFF-R) on the surface of drug-resistant B-ALL cells as a therapeutic target. We used anti-BAFF-R (VAY736), optimized for natural killer (NK) cell-mediated antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), to kill drug-resistant ALL cells. VAY736 antibody and NK cell treatments significantly decreased ALL disease burden and provided survival benefit in vivo However, if the disease was advanced, the ADCC efficacy of NK cells was inhibited by microenvironmental transforming growth factor-beta (TGF?). Inhibiting TGF? signaling in NK cells using the TGF? receptor 1 (R1) inhibitor (EW-7197) significantly enhanced VAY736-induced NK cell-mediated ALL killing. Our results highlight the potential of using a combination of VAY736 antibody with EW-7197 to treat advance-stage, drug-resistant B-ALL patients.