Project description:Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is characterized by subpopulations of leukaemia stem cells (LSCs) that are defined by their ability to engraft in immunodeficient mice. Here we show an LSC DNA methylation signature, derived from xenografts and integration with gene expression that is comprised of 71 genes and identifies a key role for the HOXA cluster. Most of the genes are epigenetically regulated independently of underlying mutations, although several are downstream targets of epigenetic modifier genes mutated in AML. The LSC epigenetic signature is associated with poor prognosis independent of known risk factors such as age and cytogenetics. Analysis of early haematopoietic progenitors from normal individuals reveals two distinct clusters of AML LSC resembling either lymphoid-primed multipotent progenitors or granulocyte/macrophage progenitors. These results provide evidence for DNA methylation variation between AML LSCs and their blast progeny, and identify epigenetically distinct subgroups of AML likely reflecting the cell of origin.
Project description:Leukaemia-propagating cells are more frequent in high-risk acute B lymphoblastic leukaemia than in many malignancies that follow a hierarchical cancer stem cell model. It is unclear whether this characteristic can be more universally applied to patients from non-'high-risk' sub-groups and across a broad range of cellular immunophenotypes. Here, we demonstrate in a wide range of primary patient samples and patient samples previously passaged through mice that leukaemia-propagating cells are found in all populations defined by high or low expression of the lymphoid differentiation markers CD10, CD20 or CD34. The frequency of leukaemia-propagating cells and their engraftment kinetics do not differ between these populations. Transcriptomic analysis of CD34(high) and CD34(low) blasts establishes their difference and their similarity to comparable normal progenitors at different stages of B-cell development. However, consistent with the functional similarity of these populations, expression signatures characteristic of leukaemia propagating cells in acute myeloid leukaemia fail to distinguish between the different populations. Together, these findings suggest that there is no stem cell hierarchy in acute B lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Project description:Cells of the osteoblast lineage affect the homing and the number of long-term repopulating haematopoietic stem cells, haematopoietic stem cell mobilization and lineage determination and B cell lymphopoiesis. Osteoblasts were recently implicated in pre-leukaemic conditions in mice. However, a single genetic change in osteoblasts that can induce leukaemogenesis has not been shown. Here we show that an activating mutation of ?-catenin in mouse osteoblasts alters the differentiation potential of myeloid and lymphoid progenitors leading to development of acute myeloid leukaemia with common chromosomal aberrations and cell autonomous progression. Activated ?-catenin stimulates expression of the Notch ligand jagged 1 in osteoblasts. Subsequent activation of Notch signalling in haematopoietic stem cell progenitors induces the malignant changes. Genetic or pharmacological inhibition of Notch signalling ameliorates acute myeloid leukaemia and demonstrates the pathogenic role of the Notch pathway. In 38% of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes or acute myeloid leukaemia, increased ?-catenin signalling and nuclear accumulation was identified in osteoblasts and these patients showed increased Notch signalling in haematopoietic cells. These findings demonstrate that genetic alterations in osteoblasts can induce acute myeloid leukaemia, identify molecular signals leading to this transformation and suggest a potential novel pharmacotherapeutic approach to acute myeloid leukaemia.
Project description:We investigated the evidence of recent positive selection in the human phototransduction system at single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and gene level.SNP genotyping data from the International HapMap Project for European, Eastern Asian, and African populations was used to discover differences in haplotype length and allele frequency between these populations. Numeric selection metrics were computed for each SNP and aggregated into gene-level metrics to measure evidence of recent positive selection. The level of recent positive selection in phototransduction genes was evaluated and compared to a set of genes shown previously to be under recent selection, and a set of highly conserved genes as positive and negative controls, respectively.Six of 20 phototransduction genes evaluated had gene-level selection metrics above the 90th percentile: RGS9, GNB1, RHO, PDE6G, GNAT1, and SLC24A1. The selection signal across these genes was found to be of similar magnitude to the positive control genes and much greater than the negative control genes.There is evidence for selective pressure in the genes involved in retinal phototransduction, and traces of this selective pressure can be demonstrated using SNP-level and gene-level metrics of allelic variation. We hypothesize that the selective pressure on these genes was related to their role in low light vision and retinal adaptation to ambient light changes. Uncovering the underlying genetics of evolutionary adaptations in phototransduction not only allows greater understanding of vision and visual diseases, but also the development of patient-specific diagnostic and intervention strategies.
Project description:Isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) genes 1 and 2 are frequently mutated in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), low-grade glioma, cholangiocarcinoma (CC) and chondrosarcoma (CS). For AML, low-grade glioma and CC, mutant IDH status is associated with a DNA hypermethylation phenotype, implicating altered epigenome dynamics in the aetiology of these cancers. Here we show that the IDH variants in CS are also associated with a hypermethylation phenotype and display increased production of the oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate, supporting the role of mutant IDH-produced 2-hydroxyglutarate as an inhibitor of TET-mediated DNA demethylation. Meta-analysis of the acute myeloid leukaemia, low-grade glioma, cholangiocarcinoma and CS methylation data identifies cancer-specific effectors within the retinoic acid receptor activation pathway among the hypermethylated targets. By analysing sequence motifs surrounding hypermethylated sites across the four cancer types, and using chromatin immunoprecipitation and western blotting, we identify the transcription factor EBF1 (early B-cell factor 1) as an interaction partner for TET2, suggesting a sequence-specific mechanism for regulating DNA methylation.
Project description:Early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ETP ALL) is an aggressive malignancy of unknown genetic basis. We performed whole-genome sequencing of 12 ETP ALL cases and assessed the frequency of the identified somatic mutations in 94 T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia cases. ETP ALL was characterized by activating mutations in genes regulating cytokine receptor and RAS signalling (67% of cases; NRAS, KRAS, FLT3, IL7R, JAK3, JAK1, SH2B3 and BRAF), inactivating lesions disrupting haematopoietic development (58%; GATA3, ETV6, RUNX1, IKZF1 and EP300) and histone-modifying genes (48%; EZH2, EED, SUZ12, SETD2 and EP300). We also identified new targets of recurrent mutation including DNM2, ECT2L and RELN. The mutational spectrum is similar to myeloid tumours, and moreover, the global transcriptional profile of ETP ALL was similar to that of normal and myeloid leukaemia haematopoietic stem cells. These findings suggest that addition of myeloid-directed therapies might improve the poor outcome of ETP ALL.
Project description:The differentiation of haematopoietic cells is regulated by a plethora of so-called transcription factors (TFs). Mutations in genes encoding TFs or graded reduction in their expression levels can induce the development of various malignant diseases such as acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Growth Factor Independence 1 (GFI1) is a transcriptional repressor with key roles in haematopoiesis, including regulating self-renewal of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) as well as myeloid and lymphoid differentiation. Analysis of AML patients and different AML mouse models with reduced GFI1 gene expression levels revealed a direct link between low GFI1 protein level and accelerated AML development and inferior prognosis. Here, we report that upregulated expression of GFI1 in several widely used leukemic cell lines inhibits their growth and decreases the ability to generate colonies in vitro. Similarly, elevated expression of GFI1 impedes the in vitro expansion of murine pre-leukemic cells. Using a humanized AML model, we demonstrate that upregulation of GFI1 expression leads to myeloid differentiation morphologically and immunophenotypically, increased level of apoptosis and reduction in number of cKit+ cells. These results suggest that increasing GFI1 level in leukemic cells with low GFI1 expression level could be a therapeutic approach.
Project description:We have sequenced miRNA libraries from human embryonic, neural and foetal mesenchymal stem cells. We report that the majority of miRNA genes encode mature isomers that vary in size by one or more bases at the 3’ and/or 5’ end of the miRNA. Northern blotting for individual miRNAs showed that the proportions of isomiRs expressed by a single miRNA gene often differ between cell and tissue types. IsomiRs were readily co-immunoprecipitated with Argonaute proteins in vivo and were active in luciferase assays, indicating that they are functional. Bioinformatics analysis predicts substantial differences in targeting between miRNAs with minor 5’ differences and in support of this we report that a 5’ isomiR-9-1 gained the ability to inhibit the expression of DNMT3B and NCAM2 but lost the ability to inhibit CDH1 in vitro. This result was confirmed by the use of isomiR-specific sponges. Our analysis of the miRGator database indicates that a small percentage of human miRNA genes express isomiRs as the dominant transcript in certain cell types and analysis of miRBase shows that 5’ isomiRs have replaced canonical miRNAs many times during evolution. This strongly indicates that isomiRs are of functional importance and have contributed to the evolution of miRNA genes Sequence library of miRNAs from a single sample of human foetal mesenchymal stem cells. Results tested and confirmed by northern blotting. Please note that only raw data files are available for the embryonic and neual samples and thus, directly submitted to SRA (SRX547311, SRX548700, respectively under SRP042115/PRJNA247767)
Project description:Regulation of haematopoietic stem cell fate through conditional gene expression could improve understanding of healthy haematopoietic and leukaemia initiating cell (LIC) biology. We established conditionally immortalised myeloid progenitor cell lines co-expressing constitutive Hoxa9.EGFP and inducible Meis1.dTomato (H9M-ciMP) to study growth behaviour, immunophenotype and morphology under different cytokine/microenvironmental conditions ex vivo upon doxycycline (DOX) induction or removal. The vector design and drug-dependent selection approach identified new retroviral insertion (RVI) sites that potentially collaborate with Meis1/Hoxa9 and define H9M-ciMP fate. For most cell lines, myelomonocytic conditions supported reversible H9M-ciMP differentiation into neutrophils and macrophages with DOX-dependent modulation of Hoxa9/Meis1 and CD11b/Gr-1 expression. Here, up-regulation of Meis1/Hoxa9 promoted reconstitution of exponential expansion of immature H9M-ciMPs after DOX reapplication. Stem cell maintaining conditions supported selective H9M-ciMP exponential growth. H9M-ciMPs that had Ninj2 RVI and were cultured under myelomonocytic or stem cell maintaining conditions revealed the development of DOX-dependent acute myeloid leukaemia in a murine transplantation model. Transcriptional dysregulation of Ninj2 and distal genes surrounding RVI (Rad52, Kdm5a) was detected. All studied H9M-ciMPs demonstrated adaptation to T-lymphoid microenvironmental conditions while maintaining immature myelomonocytic features. Thus, the established system is relevant to leukaemia and stem cell biology.
Project description:ASXL2 is frequently mutated in acute myeloid leukaemia patients with t(8;21). However, the roles of ASXL2 in normal haematopoiesis and the pathogenesis of myeloid malignancies remain unknown. Here we show that deletion of Asxl2 in mice leads to the development of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)-like disease. Asxl2-/- mice have an increased bone marrow (BM) long-term haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and granulocyte-macrophage progenitors compared with wild-type controls. Recipients transplanted with Asxl2-/- and Asxl2+/- BM cells have shortened lifespan due to the development of MDS-like disease or myeloid leukaemia. Paired daughter cell assays demonstrate that Asxl2 loss enhances the self-renewal of HSCs. Deletion of Asxl2 alters the expression of genes critical for HSC self-renewal, differentiation and apoptosis in Lin-cKit+ cells. The altered gene expression is associated with dysregulated H3K27ac and H3K4me1/2. Our study demonstrates that ASXL2 functions as a tumour suppressor to maintain normal HSC function.