Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) blockade targeting the PD-1 immune checkpoint has demonstrated unprecedented clinical efficacy in the treatment of advanced cancers including hematologic malignancies. This article reviews the landscape of PD-1/programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression and current PD-1 blockade immunotherapy trials in B-cell lymphomas. Most notably, in relapsed/refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma, which frequently has increased PD-1(+) tumor-infiltrating T cells, 9p24.1 genetic alteration, and high PD-L1 expression, anti-PD-1 monotherapy has demonstrated remarkable objective response rates (ORRs) of 65% to 87% and durable disease control in phase 1/2 clinical trials. The median duration of response was 16 months in a phase 2 trial. PD-1 blockade has also shown promise in a phase 1 trial of nivolumab in relapsed/refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas, including follicular lymphoma, which often displays abundant PD-1 expression on intratumoral T cells, and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, which variably expresses PD-1 and PD-L1. In primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, which frequently has 9p24.1 alterations, the ORR was 35% in a phase 2 trial of pembrolizumab. In contrast, the ORR with pembrolizumab was 0% in relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and 44% in CLL with Richter transformation in a phase 2 trial. T cells from CLL patients have elevated PD-1 expression; CLL PD-1(+) T cells can exhibit a pseudo-exhaustion or a replicative senescence phenotype. PD-1 expression was also found in marginal zone lymphoma but not in mantle cell lymphoma, although currently anti-PD-1 clinical trial data are not available. Mechanisms and predictive biomarkers for PD-1 blockade immunotherapy, treatment-related adverse events, hyperprogression, and combination therapies are discussed in the context of B-cell lymphomas.
Megakaryocytes (MKs) in adult marrow produce platelets that play important roles in blood coagulation and hemostasis. Monoallelic mutations of the master transcription factor gene RUNX1 lead to familial platelet disorder (FPD) characterized by defective MK and platelet development. However, the molecular mechanisms of FPD remain unclear. Previously, we generated human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from patients with FPD containing a RUNX1 nonsense mutation. Production of MKs from the FPD-iPSCs was reduced, and targeted correction of the RUNX1 mutation restored MK production. In this study, we used isogenic pairs of FPD-iPSCs and the MK differentiation system to identify RUNX1 target genes. Using integrative genomic analysis of hematopoietic progenitor cells generated from FPD-iPSCs, and mutation-corrected isogenic controls, we identified 2 gene sets the transcription of which is either up- or downregulated by RUNX1 in mutation-corrected iPSCs. Notably, NOTCH4 expression was negatively controlled by RUNX1 via a novel regulatory DNA element within the locus, and we examined its involvement in MK generation. Specific inactivation of NOTCH4 by an improved CRISPR-Cas9 system in human iPSCs enhanced megakaryopoiesis. Moreover, small molecules known to inhibit Notch signaling promoted MK generation from both normal human iPSCs and postnatal CD34(+) hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Our study newly identified NOTCH4 as a RUNX1 target gene and revealed a previously unappreciated role of NOTCH4 signaling in promoting human megakaryopoiesis. Our work suggests that human iPSCs with monogenic mutations have the potential to serve as an invaluable resource for discovery of novel druggable targets.
Coagulopathy is common in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and predicts poor clinical outcomes. We have shown that brain-derived extracellular microvesicles, including extracellular mitochondria, play a key role in the development of TBI-induced coagulopathy. Here, we further show in mouse models that the apoptotic cell-scavenging factor lactadherin, given at a single dose of 400 mu g/kg 30 minutes before (preconditioning) or 30 minutes after cerebral fluid percussion injury, prevented coagulopathy as defined by clotting time, fibrinolysis, intravascular fibrin deposition, and microvascular bleeding of the lungs. Lactadherin also reduced cerebral edema, improved neurological function, and increased survival. It achieved these protective effects by enhancing the clearance of circulating microvesicles through phosphatidylserine-mediated phagocytosis. Together, these results identify the scavenging system for apoptotic cells as a potential therapeutic target to prevent TBI-induced coagulopathy and improve the outcome of TBI.
Nonmuscle myosin II has been implicated in regulation of von Willebrand factor (VWF) release from endothelial Weibel-Palade bodies (WPBs), but the specific role of myosin IIa isoform is poorly defined. Here, we report that myosin IIa is expressed both in primary human endothelial cells and intact mouse vessels, essential for cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-mediated endothelial VWF secretion. Downregulation of myosin IIa by shRNAs significantly suppressed both forskolin-and epinephrine-induced VWF secretion. Endothelium-specific myosin IIa knockout mice exhibited impaired epinephrine-stimulated VWF release, prolonged bleeding time, and thrombosis. Further study showed that in resting cells, myosin IIa deficiency disrupted the peripheral localization of Rab27-positive WPBs along stress fibers; on stimulation by cAMP agonists, myosin IIa in synergy with zyxin promotes the formation of a functional actin framework, which is derived from preexisting cortical actin filaments, around WPBs, facilitating fusion and subsequent exocytosis. In summary, our findings not only identify new functions of myosin IIa in regulation of WPB positioning and the interaction between preexisting cortical actin filaments and exocytosing vesicles before fusion but also revealmyosin IIa as a physiological regulator of endothelial VWF secretion in stress-induced hemostasis and thrombosis.
The pathogenesis of corticosteroid-resistant immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), a clinically challenging condition in which patients exhibit either no response to corticosteroids or are corticosteroid-dependent, remains poorly understood. Murine studies suggest that bone marrow (BM) endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) play a crucial role in regulating megakaryocytopoiesis. However, little is known regarding the number and function of BM EPCs or how to improve impaired BM EPCs in corticosteroid-resistant ITP patients. In the current case-control study, we evaluated whether the BM EPCs in corticosteroid-resistant ITP differed from those in corticosteroid-sensitive ITP. Moreover, whether atorvastatin could enhance the number and function of BM EPCs derived from corticosteroid-resistant ITP patients was investigated in vitro and in vivo. Reduced and dysfunctional BM EPCs, characterized by decreased capacities of migration and angiogenesis as well as higher levels of reactive oxygen species and apoptosis, were observed in corticosteroid-resistant ITP patients. In vitro treatment with atorvastatin quantitatively and functionally improved BM EPCs derived from corticosteroid-resistant ITP patients by downregulating the p38 MAPK pathway and upregulating the Akt pathway, and rescued the impaired BM EPCs to support megakaryocytopoiesis. Subsequently, a pilot cohort study showed that atorvastatin was safe and effective in corticosteroid-resistant ITP patients. Taken together, these results indicate that reduced and dysfunctional BM EPCs play a role in the pathogenesis of corticosteroid-resistant ITP, and the impaired BM EPCs could be improved by atorvastatin both in vitro and in vivo. Although requiring further validation, our data indicate that atorvastatin represents a promising therapeutic approach for repairing impaired BM EPCs in corticosteroid-resistant ITP patients.
B-cell lymphomas are heterogeneous blood disorders with limited therapeutic options, largely because of their propensity to relapse and become refractory to treatments. Carabin, a key suppressor of B-cell receptor signaling and proliferation, is inactivated in B-cell lymphoma by unknown mechanisms. Here, we identify prolyl 4-hydroxylase 2 (P4HA2) as a specific proline hydroxylase of Carabin. Carabin hydroxylation leads to its proteasomal degradation, thereby activating the Ras/extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway and increasing B-cell lymphoma proliferation. P4HA2 is undetectable in normal B cells but upregulated in the diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), driving Carabin inactivation and lymphoma proliferation. Our results indicate that P4HA2 is a potential prognosis marker for DLBCL and a promising pharmacological target for developing treatment of molecularly stratified B-cell lymphomas.
The transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) signaling pathway controls hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) behavior in the marrow niche; however, TGF-beta signaling becomes chronic in early-stage myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Although TGF-beta signaling normally induces negative feedback, in early-stage MDS, high levels of microRNA-21 (miR-21) contribute to chronic TGF-beta signaling. We found that a TGF-beta signal-correlated gene signature is sufficient to identify an MDS patient population with abnormal RNA splicing (eg, CSF3R) independent of splicing factor mutations and coincident with low HNRNPK activity. Levels of SKI messenger RNA (mRNA) encoding a TGF-beta antagonist are sufficient to identify these patients. However, MDS patients with high SKI mRNA and chronic TGF-beta signaling lack SKI protein because of miR-21 activity. To determine the impact of SKI loss, we examined murine Ski(-/-) HSC function. First, competitive HSC transplants revealed a profound defect in stem cell fitness (competitive disadvantage) but not specification, homing, or multilineage production. Aged recipients of Ski(-/-) HSCs exhibited mild phenotypes similar to phenotypes in those with macrocytic anemia. Second, blastocyst complementation revealed a dramatic block in Ski(-/-) hematopoiesis in the absence of transplantation. Similar to SKI-high MDS patient samples, Ski(-/-) HSCs strikingly upregulated TGF-beta signaling and deregulated expression of spliceosome genes (including Hnrnpk). Moreover, novel single-cell splicing analyses demonstrated that Ski(-/-) HSCs and high levels of SKI expression in MDS patient samples share abnormal alternative splicing of common genes (including those that encode splicing factors). We conclude that miR-21-mediated loss of SKI activates TGF-beta signaling and alternative splicing to impair the competitive advantage of normal HSCs (fitness), which could contribute to selection of early-stage MDSgenic clones.
Monocytes and macrophages play a key role in defending pathogens, removing the dead cells or cell debris, and wound healing. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor rapamycin (RPM) is widely used in clinics to treat patients with organ transplantation or tumors. The role of mTOR in monocyte/macrophage development remains to be clarified. Here we found that mTOR intrinsically controls monocyte/macrophage development, as evidenced by the decreased percentages and cell numbers of CD11b(+)F4/80(+) cells resulting from mTOR inhibition in SCID mice, mTOR-deficient mice, and mixed chimera mice, and the in vitro colony formation and monocyte/macrophage induction assays. However, Lyzs-mTOR knockout mice displayed normal levels of monocytes/macrophages, indicating that mTOR is not essential for the survival and maturation of monocytes/macrophages. Further studies showed that mTOR deficiency significantly reduced macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor CD115 expression at the transcriptional and translational levels. The molecular mechanism studies indicate that the impaired monocyte/macrophage development caused by mTOR deficiency is mainly a result of the overactivated STAT5 and subsequent downregulation of IRF8, but not the altered cell metabolism and autophagy. Therefore, our work identifies that mTOR is an intrinsic master for monocyte/macrophage development at the early stages through regulating STAT5-IRF8-dependent CD115-expressing pathway. Long-term usage of RPM may cause a defect of myeloid progenitors in bone marrow.
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) are clonal hematopoietic stem cell disorders characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis. Anemia is the defining cytopenia of MDS patients, yet the molecular mechanisms for dyserythropoiesis in MDSs remain to be fully defined. Recent studies have revealed that heterozygous loss-of-function mutation of DNA dioxygenase TET2 is 1 of the most common mutations in MDSs and that TET2 deficiency disturbs erythroid differentiation. However, mechanistic insights into the role of TET2 on disordered erythropoiesis are not fully defined. Here, we show that TET2 deficiency leads initially to stem cell factor (SCF)-dependent hyperproliferation and impaired differentiation of human colony-forming unit-erythroid (CFU-E) cells, which were reversed by a c-Kit inhibitor. We further show that this was due to increased phosphorylation of c-Kit accompanied by decreased expression of phosphatase SHP-1, a negative regulator of c-Kit. At later stages, TET2 deficiency led to an accumulation of a progenitor population, which expressed surface markers characteristic of normal CFU-E cells but were functionally different. In contrast to normal CFU-E cells that require only erythropoietin (EPO) for proliferation, these abnormal progenitors required SCF and EPO and exhibited impaired differentiation. We termed this population of progenitors "marker CFU-E" cells. We further show that AXL expression was increased in marker CFU-E cells and that the increased AXL expression led to increased activation of AKT and ERK. Moreover, the altered proliferation and differentiation of marker CFU-E cells were partially rescued by an AXL inhibitor. Our findings document an important role for TET2 in erythropoiesis and have uncovered previously unknown mechanisms by which deficiency of TET2 contributes to ineffective erythropoiesis.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI)-induced coagulopathy is a common and well-recognized risk for poor clinical outcomes, but its pathogenesis remains poorly understood, and treatment options are limited and ineffective. We discuss the recent progress and knowledge gaps in understanding this lethal complication of TBI. We focus on (1) the disruption of the brain-blood barrier to disseminate brain injury systemically by releasing brain-derived molecules into the circulation and (2) TBI-induced hypercoagulable and hyperfibrinolytic states that result in persistent and delayed intracranial hemorrhage and systemic bleeding.
Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) comprises similar to 10% to 15% of childhood ALL cases, many of which respond exquisitely to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), for example, imatinib in PDGFRB-rearranged ALL. However, some cases developed drug resistance to TKIs and the mechanisms are poorly understood. In this study, we identified a novel PDGFRB fusion gene, namely AGGF1-PDGFRB, and functionally characterized its oncogenic potential in vitro. Further genomic profiling of longitudinally collected samples during treatment revealed the emergence of a mutation, PDGFRB(C843G), which directly conferred resistance to all generations of ABL TKIs, including imatinib, dasatinib, nilotinib, and ponatinib. PDGFRB-mutant leukemia cells are highly sensitive to multitarget kinase inhibitor CHZ868, suggesting potential therapeutic options for some patients resistant to ABL TKIs. In summary, we describe a complex clonal evolution pattern in Ph-like ALL and identified a novel PDGFRB point mutation that drives leukemia relapse after ABL TKI treatment.