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MIF as a biomarker and therapeutic target for overcoming resistance to proteasome inhibitors in human myeloma

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 136 (22)

Multiple myeloma (MM) remains largely incurable despite significant advances in biotherapy and chemotherapy. The development of drug resistance is a major problem in MM management. Macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) expression was significantly higher in purified MM cells from relapsed patients than those with sustained response, and MM patients with high MIF had significantly shorter progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). MM cell lines also express high levels of MIF, and knocking out MIF made them more sensitive to proteasome inhibitor (PI)-induced apoptosis not observed with other chemotherapy drugs. Mechanistic studies showed that MIF protects MM cells from PI-induced apoptosis by maintaining mitochondrial function via suppression of superoxide production in response to PIs. Specifically, MIF, in the form of a homotrimer, acts as a chaperone for superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) to suppress PI-induced SOD1 misfolding and to maintain SOD1 activity. MIF inhibitor 4-iodo-6-phenylpyrimidine and homotrimer disrupter ebselen, which do not kill MM cells, enhanced PI-induced SOD1 misfolding and loss of function, resulting in significantly more cell death in both cell lines and primary MM cells. More importantly, inhibiting MIF activity in vivo displayed synergistic antitumor activity with PIs and resensitized PI-resistant MM cells to treatment. In support of these findings, gene-profiling data showed a significantly negative correlation between MIF and SOD1 expression and response to PI treatment in patients with MM. This study shows that MIF plays a crucial role in MM sensitivity to PIs and suggests that targeting MIF may be a promising strategy to (re)sensitize MM to the treatment.

Therapy-induced mutations drive the genomic landscape of relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (1)

To study the mechanisms of relapse in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), we performed whole-genome sequencing of 103 diagnosis-relapse-germline trios and ultra-deep sequencing of 208 serial samples in 16 patients. Relapse specific somatic alterations were enriched in 12 genes (NR3C1, NR3C2, TP53, NT5C2, FPGS, CREBBP, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2, WHSC1, PRPS1, and PRPS2) involved in drug response. Their prevalence was 17% in very early relapse (<9 months from diagnosis), 65% in early relapse (9-36 months), and 32% in late relapse (>36 months) groups. Convergent evolution, in which multiple subclones harbor mutations in the same drug resistance gene, was observed in 6 relapses and confirmed by single-cell sequencing in 1 case. Mathematical modeling and mutational signature analysis indicated that early relapse resistance acquisition was frequently a 2-step process in which a persistent clone survived initial therapy and later acquired bona fide resistance mutations during therapy. In contrast, very early relapses arose from preexisting resistant clone(s). Two novel relapse-specific mutational signatures, one of which was caused by thiopurine treatment based on in vitro drug exposure experiments, were identified in early and late relapses but were absent from 2540 pan-cancer diagnosis samples and 129 non-ALL relapses. The novel signatures were detected in 27% of relapsed ALLs and were responsible for 46% of acquired resistance mutations in NT5C2, PRPS1, NR3C1, and TP53. These results suggest that chemotherapy-induced drug resistance mutations facilitate a subset of pediatric ALL relapses.

Efficacy and safety of CAR19/22 T-cell cocktail therapy in patients with refractory/relapsed B-cell malignancies

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (1)

Antigen-escape relapse has emerged as a major challenge for long-term disease control after CD19-directed therapies, to which dual-targeting of CD19 and CD22 has been proposed as a potential solution. From March 2016 through January 2018, we conducted a pilot study in 89 patients who had refractory/relapsed B-cell malignancies, to evaluate the efficacy and safety of sequential infusion of anti-CD19 and anti-CD22, a cocktail of 2 single-specific, third-generation chimeric antigen receptor-engineered (CAR19/22) T cells. Among the 51 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the minimal residual disease-negative response rate was 96.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 86.3-99.5). With a median follow-up of 16.7 months (range, 1.3-33.3), the median progression-free survival (PFS) was 13.6 months (95% CI, 6.5 to not reached [NR]), and the median overall survival (OS) was 31.0 months (95% CI, 10.6-NR). Among the 38 patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the overall response rate was 72.2% (95% CI, 54.8-85.8), with a complete response rate of 50.0% (95% CI, 32.9-67.1). With a median follow-up of 14.4 months (range, 0.4-27.4), the median PFS was 9.9 months (95% CI, 3.3-NR), and the median OS was 18.0 months (95% CI, 6.1-NR). Antigen-loss relapse occurred in 1 patient during follow-up. High-grade cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicity occurred in 22.4% and 1.12% patients, respectively. In all except 1, these effects were reversible. Our results indicated that sequential infusion of CAR19/22 T cell was safe and efficacious and may have reduced the rate of antigen-escape relapse in B-cell malignancies.

Coactivation of NF-kappa B and Notch signaling is sufficient to induce B-cell transformation and enables B-myeloid conversion

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (2)

NF-kappa B and Notch signaling can be simultaneously activated in a variety of B-cell lymphomas. Patients with B-cell lymphoma occasionally develop clonally related myeloid tumors with poor prognosis. Whether concurrent activation of both pathways is sufficient to induce B-cell transformation and whether the signaling initiates B-myebid conversion in a pathological context are largely unknown. Here, we provide genetic evidence that concurrent activation of NF-kappa B and Notch signaling in committed B cells is sufficient to induce B-cell lymphomatous transformation and primes common progenitor cells to convert to myeloid lineage through dedifferentiation, not transdifferentiation. Intriguingly, the converted myeloid cells can further transform, albeit at low frequency, into myeloid leukemia. Mechanistically, coactivation of NF-kappa B and Notch signaling endows committed B cells with the ability to self renew. Downregulation of BACH2, a lymphoma and myeloid gene suppressor, but not upregulation of CEBP/alpha and/or downregulation of B-cell transcription factors, is an early event in both B-cell transformation and myeloid conversion. Interestingly, a DNA hypomethylating drug not only effectively eliminated the converted myeloid leukemia cells, but also restored the expression of green fluorescent protein, which had been lost in converted myeloid leukemia cells. Collectively, our results suggest that targeting NF-kappa B and Notch signaling will not only improve lymphoma treatment, but also prevent the lymphomato-myeloid tumor conversion. Importantly, DNA hypomethylating drugs might efficiently treat these converted myeloid neoplasms.

Wdr26 regulates nuclear condensation in developing erythroblasts

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (3)

Mammalian red blood cells lack nuclei. The molecular mechanisms underlying erythroblast nuclear condensation and enucleation, however, remain poorly understood. Here we show that Wdr26, a gene upregulated during terminal erythropoiesis, plays an essential role in regulating nuclear condensation in differentiating erythroblasts. Loss of Wdr26 induces anemia in zebrafish and enucleation defects in mouse erythroblasts because of impaired erythroblast nuclear condensation. As part of the glucose-induced degradation-deficient ubiquitin ligase complex, Wdr26 regulates the ubiquitination and degradation of nuclear proteins, including lamin B. Failure of lamin B degradation blocks nuclear opening formation leading to impaired clearance of nuclear proteins and delayed nuclear condensation. Collectively, our study reveals an unprecedented role of an E3 ubiquitin ligase in regulating nuclear condensation and enucleation during terminal erythropoiesis. Our results provide mechanistic insights into nuclear protein homeostasis and vertebrate red blood cell development.

HDAC11 deficiency disrupts oncogene-induced hematopoiesis in myeloproliferative neoplasms

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (3)

Protein acetylation is an important contributor to cancer initiation. Histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) controls JAK2 translation and protein stability and has been implicated in JAK2-driven diseases best exemplified by myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). By using novel classes of highly selective HDAC inhibitors and genetically deficient mouse models, we discovered that HDAC11 rather than HDAC6 is necessary for the proliferation and survival of oncogenic JAK2-driven MPN cells and patient samples. Notably, HDAC11 is variably expressed in primitive stem cells and is expressed largely upon lineage commitment. Although Hdac11 is dispensable for normal homeostatic hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell differentiation based on chimeric bone marrow reconstitution, Hdac11 deficiency significantly reduced the abnormal megakaryocyte population, improved splenic architecture, reduced fibrosis, and increased survival in the MPLW515L-MPN mouse model during primary and secondary transplantation. Therefore, inhibitors of HDAC11 are an attractive therapy for treating patients with MPN. Although JAK2 inhibitor therapy provides substantial clinical benefit in MPN patients, the identification of alternative therapeutic targets is needed to reverse MPN pathogenesis and control malignant hematopoiesis. This study establishes HDAC11 as a unique type of target molecule that has therapeutic potential in MPN.

Identifying and treating refractory ITP: difficulty in diagnosis and role of combination treatment

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (7)

Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) is the most common acquired thrombocytopenia after chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia. Existing guidelines describe the management and treatment of most patients who, overall, do well, even if they present with chronic disease, and they are usually not at a high risk for bleeding; however, a small percentage of patients is refractory and difficult to manage. Patients classified as refractory have a diagnosis that is not really ITP or have disease that is difficult to manage. ITP is a diagnosis of exclusion; no specific tests exist to confirm the diagnosis. Response to treatment is the only affirmative confirmation of diagnosis. However, refractory patients do not respond to front-line or other treatments; thus, no confirmation of diagnosis exists. The first section of this review carefully evaluates the diagnostic considerations in patients with refractory ITP. The second section describes combination treatment for refractory cases of ITP. The reported combinations are divided into the era before thrombopoietin (TPO) and rituximab and the current era. Current therapy appears to have increased effectiveness. However, the definition of refractory, if it includes insufficient response to TPO agents, describes a group with more severe and difficult-to-treat disease. The biology of refractory ITP is largely unexplored and includes oligoclonality, lymphocyte pumps, and other possibilities. Newer treatments, especially rapamycin, fostamatinib, FcRn, and BTK inhibitors, may be useful components of future therapy given their mechanisms of action; however, TPO agents, notwithstanding failure as monotherapy, appear to be critical components. In summary, refractory ITP is a complicated entity in which a precise specific diagnosis is as important as the development of effective combination treatments.

Bispecific and split CAR T cells targeting CD13 and TIM3 eradicate acute myeloid leukemia

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (10)

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have radically improved the treatment of B cell-derived malignancies by targeting CD19. The success has not yet expanded to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We developed a Sequentially Tumor-Selected Antibody and Antigen Retrieval (STAR) system to rapidly isolate multiple nanobodies (Nbs) that preferentially bind AML cells and empower CAR T cells with anti-AML efficacy. STAR-isolated Nb157 specifically bound CD13, which is highly expressed in AML cells, and CD13 CAR T cells potently eliminated AML in vitro and in vivo. CAR T cells bispecific for CD13 and TIM3, which are upregulated in AML leukemia stem cells, eradicated patient-derived AML, with much reduced toxicity to human bone marrow stem cells and peripheral myeloid cells in mouse models, highlighting a promising approach for developing effective AML CAR T cell therapy.

Dnmt3a loss and Idh2 neomorphic mutations mutually potentiate malignant hematopoiesis

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (11)

Mutations in the epigenetic regulators DNMT3A and IDH1/2 co-occur in patients with acute myeloid leukemia and lymphoma. In this study, these 2 epigenetic mutations cooperated to induce leukemia. Leukemia-initiating cells from Dnmt3a(-/-) mice that express an IDH2 neomorphic mutant have a megakaryocyte-erythroid progenitor-like immunophenotype, activate a stem-cell-like gene signature, and repress differentiated progenitor genes. We observed an epigenomic dysregulation with the gain of repressive H3K9 trimethylation and loss of H3K9 acetylation in diseased mouse bone marrow hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs). HDAC inhibitors rapidly reversed the H3K9 methylation/acetylation imbalance in diseased mouse HSPCs while reducing the leukemia burden. In addition, using targeted metabolomic profiling for the first time in mouse leukemia models, we also showed that prostaglandin E2 is overproduced in double-mutant HSPCs, rendering them sensitive to prostaglandin synthesis inhibition. These data revealed that Dnmt3a and Idh2 mutations are synergistic events in leukemogenesis and that HSPCs carrying both mutations are sensitive to induced differentiation by the inhibition of both prostaglandin synthesis and HDAC, which may reveal new therapeutic opportunities for patients carrying IDH1/2 mutations.

Nivolumab treatment of relapsed/refractory Epstein-Barr virus-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in adults

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (11)

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (EBV-HLH) is a life-threatening hyperinflammatory syndrome triggered by EBV infection. It often becomes relapsed or refractory (r/r), given that etoposide-based regimens cannot effectively clear the virus. r/r EBV-HLH is invariably lethal in adults without allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Here, we performed a retrospective analysis of 7 r/r EBV-HLH patients who were treated with nivolumab on a compassionate-use basis at West China Hospital. All 7 patients tolerated the treatment and 6 responded to it. Five of them achieved and remained in clinical complete remission with a median followup of 16 months (range, 11.4-18.9 months). Importantly, both plasma and cellular EBV-DNAs were completely eradicated in 4 patients. Single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis showed that HLH syndrome was associated with hyperactive monocytes/macrophages and ineffective CD8 T cells with a defective activation program. Nivolumab treatment expanded programmed death protein-1-positive T cells and restored the expression of HLH-associated degranulation and costimulatory genes in CD8 T cells. Our data suggest that nivolumab, as a monotherapy, provides a potential cure for r/r EBV-HLH, most likely by restoring a defective anti-EBV response.

Myc-Miz1 signaling promotes self-renewal of leukemia stem cells by repressing Cebp alpha and Cebp delta

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (14)

c-Myc (Myc hereafter) is found to be deregulated and/or amplified in most acute myeloid leukemias (AMLs). Almost all AML cells are dependent upon Myc for their proliferation and survival. Thus, Myc has been proposed as a critical anti-AML target. Myc has Max mediated transactivational and Myc-interacting zinc finger protein 1 (Miz1)-mediated transre pressional activities. The role of Myc-Max-mediated transactivation in the pathogenesis of AML has been well studied; however, the role of Myc-Miz1-mediated transrepression in AML is still somewhat obscure. Myc protein harboring a V394D mutation (Myc(V394D)) is a mutant form of Myc that lacks transrepressional activity due to a defect in its ability to interact with Mizt We found that, compared with Myc, the oncogenic function of Myc(V394D) is significantly impaired. The AML/myeloproliferative disorder that develops in mice receiving Myc(V394D)-transduced hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) is significantly delayed compared with mice receiving Myc-transduced HSPCs. Using a murine MLL-AF9 AML model, we found that AML cells expressing Myc(V394D) (intrinsic Myc deleted) are partially differentiated and show reductions in both colony-forming ability in vitro and leukemogenic capacity in vivo. The reduced frequency of leukemia stem cells (LSCs) among Myc(V394D)-AML cells and their reduced leukemogenic capacity during serial transplantation suggest that Myc-Miz1 interaction is required for the self-renewal of LSCs. In addition, we found that Myc(V394D)-AML cells are more sensitive to chemotherapy than are Myc AML cells. Mechanistically, we found that Myc represses Miz1 mediated expression of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (Cebp alpha) and CebpZ delta, thus playing an important role in the pathogenesis of AML by maintaining the undifferentiated state and self renewal capacity of LSCs.

The role of type 1 interferons in coagulation induced by gram-negative bacteria

期刊: BLOOD, 2020; 135 (14)

Bacterial infection not only stimulates innate immune responses but also activates coagulation cascades. Overactivation of the coagulation system in bacterial sepsis leads to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), a life-threatening condition. However, the mechanisms by which bacterial infection activates the coagulation cascade are not fully understood. Here we show that type 1 interferons (IFNs), a widely expressed family of cytokines that orchestrate innate antiviral and antibacterial immunity, mediate bacterial infection-induced DIC by amplifying the release of high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) into the bloodstream. Inhibition of the expression of type 1 IFNs and disruption of their receptor IFN-alpha/beta R or downstream effector (eg, HMGB1) uniformly decreased gram-negative bacteria-induced DIC. Mechanistically, extracellular HMGB1 markedly increased the procoagulant activity of tissue factor by promoting the externalization of phosphatidylserine to the outer cell surface, where phosphatidylserine assembles a complex of cofactor-proteases of the coagulation cascades. These findings not only provide novel insights into the link between innate immune responses and coagulation, but they also open a new avenue for developing novel therapeutic strategies to prevent DIC in sepsis.

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