β-thalassemia is a genetic anemia caused by partial or complete loss of β-globin synthesis leading to ineffective erythropoiesis and RBCs with short life-span. Currently, there is no efficacious oral medication modifying anemia for patients with beta-thalassemia. The inappropriately low levels of the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin enable excessive iron absorption by ferroportin, the unique cellular iron exporter in mammals, leading to organ iron overload and associated morbidities. Correction of unbalanced iron absorption and recycling by induction of hepcidin synthesis or treatment with hepcidin mimetics ameliorates β-thalassemia. However, hepcidin modulation or replacement strategies currently in clinical development all require parenteral drug administration. We identified oral ferroportin inhibitors by screening a library of small molecular weight compounds for modulators of ferroportin internalization. Restricting iron availability by VIT-2763, the first clinical stage oral ferroportin inhibitor, ameliorated anemia and the dysregulated iron homeostasis in the Hbbth3/+ mouse model of beta-thalassemia intermedia. VIT-2763 not only improved erythropoiesis but also corrected the proportions of myeloid precursors in spleens of Hbbth3/+ mice. VIT-2763 is currently developed as an oral drug targeting ferroportin for the treatment of β-thalassemia.
Vania Manolova, Naja Nyffenegger, Anna Flace, Patrick Altermatt, Ahmet Varol, Cédric Doucerain, Hanna Sundstrom, Franz Dürrenberger
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) induce molecular remission in the majority of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), but persistence of CML stem cells hinders cure and necessitates indefinite TKI therapy. We report that CML stem cells upregulate expression of pleiotrophin (PTN) and require cell-autonomous PTN signaling for CML pathogenesis in BCR/ABL+ mice. Constitutive PTN deletion substantially reduced the numbers of CML stem cells capable of initiating CML in vivo. Hematopoietic cell–specific deletion of PTN suppressed CML development in BCR/ABL+ mice, suggesting that cell-autonomous PTN signaling was necessary for CML disease evolution. Mechanistically, PTN promoted CML stem cell survival and TKI resistance via induction of Jun and the unfolded protein response. Human CML cells were also dependent on cell-autonomous PTN signaling and anti–PTN antibody suppressed human CML colony formation and CML repopulation in vivo. Our results suggest that targeted inhibition of PTN has therapeutic potential to eradicate CML stem cells.
Heather A. Himburg, Martina Roos, Tiancheng Fang, Yurun Zhang, Christina M. Termini, Lauren Schlussel, Mindy M. Kim, Amara Pang, Jenny Kan, Liman Zhao, Hyung Suh, Joshua P. Sasine, Gopal Sapparapu, Peter M. Bowers, Gary Schiller, John P. Chute
The interleukin-3 receptor alpha subunit, CD123, is expressed on many hematologic malignancies including acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN). Tagraxofusp (SL-401) is a CD123-targeted therapy consisting of interleukin-3 fused to a truncated diphtheria toxin payload. Factors influencing response to tagraxofusp other than CD123 expression are largely unknown. We interrogated tagraxofusp resistance in patients and experimental models and found that it was not associated with CD123 loss. Rather, resistant AML and BPDCN cells frequently acquired deficiencies in the diphthamide synthesis pathway, impairing tagraxofusp’s ability to ADP-ribosylate cellular targets. Expression of DPH1, encoding a diphthamide pathway enzyme, was reduced by DNA CpG methylation in resistant cells. Treatment with the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor azacitidine restored DPH1 expression and tagraxofusp sensitivity. We also developed a drug-dependent ADP-ribosylation assay in primary cells that correlated with tagraxofusp activity and may represent an additional novel biomarker. As predicted by these results and our observation that resistance also increased mitochondrial apoptotic priming, we found that the combination of tagraxofusp and azacitidine was effective in patient-derived xenografts treated in vivo. These data have important implications for clinical use of tagraxofusp and led to a phase 1 study combining tagraxofusp and azacitidine in myeloid malignancies.
Katsuhiro Togami, Timothy Pastika, Jason Stephansky, Mahmoud Ghandi, Amanda L. Christie, Kristen L. Jones, Carl A. Johnson, Ross W. Lindsay, Christopher L. Brooks, Anthony Letai, Jeffrey W. Craig, Olga Pozdnyakova, David M. Weinstock, Joan Montero, Jon C. Aster, Cory M. Johannessen, Andrew A. Lane
Patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) have a clonal population of blood cells deficient in glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins, resulting from a mutation in the X-linked gene PIGA. Here we report on a set of patients in whom PNH results instead from biallelic mutation of PIGT on chromosome 20. These PIGT-PNH patients have clinically typical PNH, but they have in addition prominent auto-inflammatory features, including recurrent attacks of aseptic meningitis. In all these patients we find a germ-line point mutation in one PIGT allele, whereas the other PIGT allele is removed by somatic deletion of a 20q region comprising maternally imprinted genes implicated in myeloproliferative syndromes. Unlike in PIGA-PNH cells, GPI is synthesized in PIGT-PNH cells and, since its attachment to proteins is blocked, free GPI is expressed on the cell surface. From studies of patients’ leukocytes and of PIGT-knockout THP-1 cells we show that, through increased IL-1β secretion, activation of the lectin pathway of complement and generation of C5b-9 complexes, free GPI is the agent of auto-inflammation. Eculizumab treatment abrogates not only intravascular hemolysis, but also auto-inflammation. Thus, PIGT-PNH differs from PIGA-PNH both in the mechanism of clonal expansion and in clinical manifestations.
Britta Höchsmann, Yoshiko Murakami, Makiko Osato, Alexej Knaus, Michi Kawamoto, Norimitsu Inoue, Tetsuya Hirata, Shogo Murata, Markus Anliker, Thomas Eggermann, Marten Jäger, Ricarda Floettmann, Alexander Höellein, Sho Murase, Yasutaka Ueda, Jun-ichi Nishimura, Yuzuru Kanakura, Nobuo Kohara, Hubert Schrezenmeier, Peter M. Krawitz, Taroh Kinoshita
Background: Idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease (iMCD) is a hematologic illness involving cytokine-induced lymphoproliferation, systemic inflammation, cytopenias, and life-threatening multi-organ dysfunction. The molecular underpinnings of interleukin-6(IL-6)-blockade refractory patients remain unknown; no targeted therapies exist. In this study, we searched for therapeutic targets in IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD patients with the thrombocytopenia, anasarca, fever/elevated C-reactive protein, reticulin myelofibrosis, renal dysfunction, organomegaly (TAFRO) clinical subtype. Methods: We analyzed tissues and blood samples from three IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD-TAFRO patients. Cytokine panels, quantitative serum proteomics, flow cytometry of PBMCs, and pathway analyses were employed to identify novel therapeutic targets. To confirm elevated mTOR signaling, a candidate therapeutic target from the above assays, immunohistochemistry was performed for phosphorylated S6, a read-out of mTOR activation, in three iMCD lymph node tissue samples and controls. Proteomic, immunophenotypic, and clinical response assessments were performed to quantify the effects of administration of the mTOR inhibitor, sirolimus. Results: Studies of three IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD cases revealed increased CD8+ T cell activation, VEGF-A, and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway activity. Administration of sirolimus significantly attenuated CD8+ T cell activation and decreased VEGF-A levels. Sirolimus induced clinical benefit responses in all three patients with durable and ongoing remissions of 66, 19, and 19 months. Conclusion: This precision medicine approach identifies PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling as the first pharmacologically-targetable pathogenic process in IL-6-blockade refractory iMCD. Prospective evaluation of sirolimus in treatment-refractory iMCD is planned (NCT03933904). Funding: Castleman’s Awareness & Research Effort/Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, Penn Center for Precision Medicine, University Research Foundation, Intramural NIH funding, and National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
David C. Fajgenbaum, Ruth-Anne Langan, Alberto Sada Japp, Helen L. Partridge, Sheila K. Pierson, Amrit Singh, Daniel J. Arenas, Jason R. Ruth, Christopher S. Nabel, Katie Stone, Mariko Okumura, Anthony Schwarer, Fábio Freire Jose, Nelson Hamerschlak, Gerald B. Wertheim, Michael B. Jordan, Adam D. Cohen, Vera Krymskaya, Arthur Rubenstein, Michael R. Betts, Taku Kambayashi, Frits van Rhee, Thomas S. Uldrick
Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome (SDS) is a rare and clinically-heterogeneous bone marrow (BM) failure syndrome caused by mutations in the Shwachman-Bodian-Diamond Syndrome (SBDS) gene. Although SDS was described over 50 years ago, the molecular pathogenesis is poorly understood due, in part, to the rarity and heterogeneity of the affected hematopoietic progenitors. To address this, we used single cell RNA sequencing to profile scant hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells from SDS patients. We generated a single cell map of early lineage commitment and found that SDS hematopoiesis was left-shifted with selective loss of granulocyte-monocyte progenitors. Transcriptional targets of transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) were dysregulated in SDS hematopoietic stem cells and multipotent progenitors, but not in lineage-committed progenitors. TGFβ inhibitors (AVID200 and SD208) increased hematopoietic colony formation of SDS patient BM. Finally, TGFβ3 and other TGFβ pathway members were elevated in SDS patient blood plasma. These data establish the TGFβ pathway as a novel candidate biomarker and therapeutic target in SDS and translate insights from single cell biology into a potential therapy.
Cailin E. Joyce, Assieh Saadatpour, Melisa Ruiz-Gutierrez, Ozge Vargel Bolukbasi, Lan Jiang, Dolly D. Thomas, Sarah Young, Inga Hofmann, Colin Sieff, Kasiani C. Myers, Jennifer Whangbo, Towia A. Libermann, Chad Nusbaum, Guo-Cheng Yuan, Akiko Shimamura, Carl D. Novina
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) results from hematopoietic stem cell transformation by the BCR-ABL kinase. Despite the success of BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) in treating CML patients, leukemia stem cells (LSCs) resist elimination and persist as a major barrier to cure. Previous studies suggest that overexpression of the sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) deacetylase may contribute to LSC maintenance in CML. Here, by genetically deleting SIRT1 in transgenic CML mice, we definitively demonstrated an important role for SIRT1 in leukemia development. We identified a previously unrecognized role for SIRT1 in mediating increased mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in CML LSCs. We showed that mitochondrial alterations were kinase independent and that TKI treatment enhanced inhibition of CML hematopoiesis in SIRT1-deleted mice. We further showed that the SIRT1 substrate PGC-1α contributed to increased oxidative phosphorylation and TKI resistance in CML LSCs. These results reveal an important role for SIRT1 and downstream signaling mechanisms in altered mitochondrial respiration in CML LSCs.
Ajay Abraham, Shaowei Qiu, Balu K. Chacko, Hui Li, Andrew Paterson, Jianbo He, Puneet Agarwal, Mansi Shah, Robert Welner, Victor M. Darley-Usmar, Ravi Bhatia
The nuclear protein DEK is an endogenous DNA-binding chromatin factor regulating hematopoiesis. DEK is one of only 2 known secreted nuclear chromatin factors, but whether and how extracellular DEK regulates hematopoiesis is not known. We demonstrated that extracellular DEK greatly enhanced ex vivo expansion of cytokine-stimulated human and mouse hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and regulated HSC and hematopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) numbers in vivo and in vitro as determined both phenotypically (by flow cytometry) and functionally (through transplantation and colony formation assays). Recombinant DEK increased long-term HSC numbers and decreased HPC numbers through a mechanism mediated by the CXC chemokine receptor CXCR2 and heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) (as determined utilizing Cxcr2–/– mice, blocking CXCR2 antibodies, and 3 different HSPG inhibitors) that was associated with enhanced phosphorylation of ERK1/2, AKT, and p38 MAPK. To determine whether extracellular DEK required nuclear function to regulate hematopoiesis, we utilized 2 mutant forms of DEK: one that lacked its nuclear translocation signal and one that lacked DNA-binding ability. Both altered HSC and HPC numbers in vivo or in vitro, suggesting the nuclear function of DEK is not required. Thus, DEK acts as a hematopoietic cytokine, with the potential for clinical applicability.
Maegan L. Capitano, Nirit Mor-Vaknin, Anjan K. Saha, Scott Cooper, Maureen Legendre, Haihong Guo, Rafael Contreras-Galindo, Ferdinand Kappes, Maureen A. Sartor, Christopher T. Lee, Xinxin Huang, David M. Markovitz, Hal E. Broxmeyer
The etiology of severe hemolytic anemia in most patients with recessive hereditary spherocytosis (rHS) and the related disorder hereditary pyropoikilocytosis (HPP) is unknown. Whole exome sequencing of DNA from probands of 24 rHS or HPP kindreds identified numerous mutations in erythrocyte membrane α-spectrin (SPTA1). Twenty-eight mutations were novel, with null alleles frequently found in trans to missense mutations. No mutations were identified in a third of SPTA1 alleles (17/48). Whole genome sequencing revealed linkage disequilibrium between the common rHS-linked α-spectrinBug Hill polymorphism and a rare intron 30 variant in all 17 mutation-negative alleles. In vitro minigene studies and in vivo splicing analyses revealed the intron 30 variant changes a weak alternate branch point (BP) to a strong BP. This change leads to increased utilization of an alternate 3′ splice acceptor site, perturbing normal α-spectrin mRNA splicing and creating an elongated mRNA transcript. In vivo mRNA stability studies revealed the newly created termination codon in the elongated transcript activates nonsense mediated decay leading to spectrin deficiency. These results demonstrate a unique mechanism of human genetic disease contributes to the etiology of a third of cases of rHS, facilitating diagnosis and treatment of severe anemia, and identifying a new target for therapeutic manipulation.
Patrick G. Gallagher, Yelena Maksimova, Kimberly Lezon-Geyda, Peter E. Newburger, Desiree Medeiros, Robin D. Hanson, Jennifer A. Rothman, Sara J. Israels, Donna A. Wall, Robert F. Sidonio Jr., Colin Sieff, L. Kate Gowans, Nupur Mittal, Roland Rivera-Santiago, David W. Speicher, Susan J. Baserga, Vincent P. Schulz
A resident population of dendritic cells (DCs) has been identified in murine bone marrow, but its contribution to the regulation of hematopoiesis and establishment of the stem cell niche is largely unknown. Here, we show that murine bone marrow DCs are perivascular and have a type 2 conventional DC (cDC2) immunophenotype. RNA expression analysis of sorted bone marrow DCs shows that expression of many chemokines and chemokine receptors is distinct from that observed in splenic cDC2s, suggesting that bone marrow DCs may represent a unique DC population. A similar population of DCs is present in human bone marrow. Ablation of conventional DCs (cDCs) results in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) mobilization that is greater than that seen with ablation of bone marrow macrophages, and cDC ablation also synergizes with G-CSF to mobilize HSPCs. Ablation of cDCs is associated with an expansion of bone marrow endothelial cells and increased vascular permeability. CXCR2 expression in sinusoidal endothelial cells and the expression of two CXCR2 ligands, CXCL1 and CXCL2, in the bone marrow are markedly increased following cDC ablation. Treatment of endothelial cells in vitro with CXCL1 induces increased vascular permeability and HSPC transmigration. Finally, we show that HSPC mobilization after cDC ablation is attenuated in mice lacking CXCR2 expression. Collectively, these data suggest that bone marrow DCs play an important role in regulating HSPC trafficking, in part, through regulation of sinusoidal CXCR2 signaling and vascular permeability.
Jingzhu Zhang, Teerawit Supakorndej, Joseph R. Krambs, Mahil Rao, Grazia Abou-Ezzi, Rachel Y. Ye, Sidan Li, Kathryn Trinkaus, Daniel C. Link