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1.  Pathprinting: An integrative approach to understand the functional basis of disease 
Genome Medicine  2013;5(7):68.
New strategies to combat complex human disease require systems approaches to biology that integrate experiments from cell lines, primary tissues and model organisms. We have developed Pathprint, a functional approach that compares gene expression profiles in a set of pathways, networks and transcriptionally regulated targets. It can be applied universally to gene expression profiles across species. Integration of large-scale profiling methods and curation of the public repository overcomes platform, species and batch effects to yield a standard measure of functional distance between experiments. We show that pathprints combine mouse and human blood developmental lineage, and can be used to identify new prognostic indicators in acute myeloid leukemia. The code and resources are available at
PMCID: PMC3971351  PMID: 23890051
2.  MLL-rearranged Leukemia is Dependent on Aberrant H3K79 Methylation by DOT1L 
Cancer Cell  2011;20(1):66-78.
The histone 3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase Dot1l has been implicated in the development of leukemias bearing translocations of the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene. We identified the MLL-fusion targets in an MLL-AF9 leukemia model, and conducted epigenetic profiling for H3K79me2, H3K4me3, H3K27me3 and H3K36me3 in hematopoietic progenitor and leukemia stem cells (LSC). We found abnormal profiles only for H3K79me2 on MLL-AF9 fusion target loci in LSC. Inactivation of Dot1l lead to down-regulation of direct MLL-AF9 targets and an MLL-translocation associated gene expression signature, while global gene expression remained largely unaffected. Suppression of MLL-translocation associated gene expression corresponded with dependence of MLL-AF9 leukemia on Dot1l in vivo. These data point to DOT1L as a potential therapeutic target in MLL-rearranged leukemia.
PMCID: PMC3329803  PMID: 21741597
3.  Gene Expression Profiling of Leukemia Stem Cells 
Characterization of gene expression programs and pathways important for normal and cancer stem cells has become an active area of investigation. Microarray analysis of various cell populations provides an opportunity to assess genomewide expression programs to define cellular identity and to potentially identify pathways activated in various stem cells. Here we describe methods to isolate a leukemia stem cell population, amplify RNA, and perform microarray analyses.
PMCID: PMC3339407  PMID: 19277590
Stem cells; Leukemia stem cells; Gene expression profiling; Microarray; MLL-AF9; Leukemia; Gene expression; RNA amplification
4.  The Stem Cell Discovery Engine: an integrated repository and analysis system for cancer stem cell comparisons 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(Database issue):D984-D991.
Mounting evidence suggests that malignant tumors are initiated and maintained by a subpopulation of cancerous cells with biological properties similar to those of normal stem cells. However, descriptions of stem-like gene and pathway signatures in cancers are inconsistent across experimental systems. Driven by a need to improve our understanding of molecular processes that are common and unique across cancer stem cells (CSCs), we have developed the Stem Cell Discovery Engine (SCDE)—an online database of curated CSC experiments coupled to the Galaxy analytical framework. The SCDE allows users to consistently describe, share and compare CSC data at the gene and pathway level. Our initial focus has been on carefully curating tissue and cancer stem cell-related experiments from blood, intestine and brain to create a high quality resource containing 53 public studies and 1098 assays. The experimental information is captured and stored in the multi-omics Investigation/Study/Assay (ISA-Tab) format and can be queried in the data repository. A linked Galaxy framework provides a comprehensive, flexible environment populated with novel tools for gene list comparisons against molecular signatures in GeneSigDB and MSigDB, curated experiments in the SCDE and pathways in WikiPathways. The SCDE is available at
PMCID: PMC3245064  PMID: 22121217
5.  The Wnt/β-catenin Pathway Is Required for the Development of Leukemia Stem Cells in AML 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;327(5973):1650-1653.
A subset of cells called leukemia stem cells (LSCs) possess limitless self-renewal and are responsible for maintenance of leukemia. Selective eradication of LSCs could offer significant therapeutic benefit and there is great interest in identifying the signaling pathways that control their development. Here, LSCs were studied in mouse models of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) induced either by co-expression of the Hoxa9 and Meis1a oncogenes or the fusion oncoprotein MLL-AF9. We show that the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway is required for self-renewal of LSCs derived from either hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) or more differentiated granulocyte macrophage progenitors (GMP). Since the Wnt/β-catenin pathway is normally active in HSCs, but not in GMP, reactivation of β-catenin signaling is required for transformation of progenitor cells by certain oncogenes. β-catenin is not absolutely required for self-renewal of adult HSCs, thus targeting the Wnt/β-catenin pathway may represent a new therapeutic opportunity in AML.
PMCID: PMC3084586  PMID: 20339075
6.  MLL-Rearranged B Lymphoblastic Leukemias Selectively Express the Immunoregulatory Carbohydrate-Binding Protein Galectin-1 
Patients with mixed lineage leukemia (MLL)–rearranged B-lymphoblastic leukemias (B-ALL) have an unfavorable prognosis and require intensified treatment. Multiple MLL fusion partners have been identified, complicating the diagnostic evaluation of MLL rearrangements. We analyzed molecular markers of MLL rearrangement for use in rapid diagnostic assays and found the immunomodulatory protein, Galectin-1 (Gal-1), to be selectively expressed in MLL-rearranged B-ALL.
Experimental Design
Transcriptional profiling of ALL subtypes revealed selective overexpression of Gal-1 in MLL-rearranged ALLs. For this reason, we analyzed Gal-1 protein expression in MLL-germline and MLL-rearranged adult and infant pediatric B-ALLs and cell lines by immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry, and intracellular flow cytometry of viable tumor cell suspensions. Because deregulated gene expression in MLL-rearranged leukemias may be related to the altered histone methyltransferase activity of the MLL fusion protein complex, we also analyzed histone H3 lysine 79 (H3K79) dimethylation in the LGALS1 promoter region using chromatin immunoprecipitation.
Gal-1 transcripts were significantly more abundant in MLL-rearranged B-ALLs. All 32 primary MLL-rearranged B-ALLs exhibited abundant Gal-1 immunostaining, regardless of the translocation partner, whereas only 2 of 81 germline-MLL B-ALLs expressed Gal-1. In addition, Gal-1 was selectively detected in newly diagnosed MLL-rearranged B-ALLs by intracellular flow cytometry. The LGALS1 promoter H3K79 was significantly hypermethylated in MLL-rearranged B-ALLs compared with MLL-germline B-ALLs and normal pre-B cells.
In B-ALL, Gal-1 is a highly sensitive and specific biomarker of MLL rearrangement that is likely induced by a MLL-dependent epigenetic modification.
PMCID: PMC2920144  PMID: 20332322
7.  H3K79 methylation profiles define murine and human MLL-AF4 leukemias 
Cancer cell  2008;14(5):355-368.
We created a mouse model where conditional expression of an Mll-AF4 fusion oncogene induces B-precursor acute lymphoblastic (ALL) or acute myeloid leukemias (AML). Gene expression profile analysis of the ALL cells demonstrated significant overlap with human MLL-rearranged ALL. ChIP-chip analysis demonstrated histone H3 Lysine 79 (H3K79) methylation profiles that correlated with Mll-AF4 associated gene expression profiles in murine ALLs, and in human MLL-rearranged leukemias. Human MLL-rearranged ALLs could be distinguished from other ALLs by their H3K79 profiles and suppression of the H3K79 methyltransferase DOT1L inhibited expression of critical MLL-AF4 target genes. We have thus demonstrated that ectopic H3K79 methylation is a distinguishing feature of murine and human MLL-AF4 ALLs and is important for maintenance of MLL-AF4 driven gene expression.
The t(4;11) encodes an MLL-AF4 fusion protein, and predicts a particularly poor prognosis when found in acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL). Recent studies suggest certain MLL-fusion proteins enhance gene expression by recruitment of the histone H3 lysine79 (H3K79) methyltransferase DOT1L. We demonstrate that H3K79 methylation is enhanced at many loci in leukemia cells from a murine model of Mll-AF4 and in human MLL-AF4 leukemia cells and this elevation is correlated with enhanced gene expression. Furthermore, suppression of H3K79 methylation leads to inhibition of gene expression in MLL-AF4 cells. These data demonstrate that inhibition of DOT1L may be a therapeutic approach in this disease, and that this mouse model should be useful for assessment of therapeutic approaches for MLL-rearranged ALL.
PMCID: PMC2591932  PMID: 18977325

Results 1-7 (7)