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1.  Ott1 (Rbm15) Is Essential for Placental Vascular Branching Morphogenesis and Embryonic Development of the Heart and Spleen▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;29(2):333-341.
The infant leukemia-associated gene Ott1 (Rbm15) has broad regulatory effects within murine hematopoiesis. However, germ line Ott1 deletion results in fetal demise prior to embryonic day 10.5, indicating additional developmental requirements for Ott1. The spen gene family, to which Ott1 belongs, has a transcriptional activation/repression domain and RNA recognition motifs and has a significant role in the development of the head and thorax in Drosophila melanogaster. Early Ott1-deficient embryos show growth retardation and incomplete closure of the notochord. Further analysis demonstrated placental defects in the spongiotrophoblast and syncytiotrophoblast layers, resulting in an arrest of vascular branching morphogenesis. The rescue of the placental defect using a conditional allele with a trophoblast-sparing cre transgene allowed embryos to form a normal placenta and survive gestation. This outcome showed that the process of vascular branching morphogenesis in Ott1-deficient animals was regulated by the trophoblast compartment rather than the fetal vasculature. Mice surviving to term manifested hyposplenia and abnormal cardiac development. Analysis of global gene expression of Ott1-deficient embryonic hearts showed an enrichment of hypoxia-related genes and a significant alteration of several candidate genes critical for cardiac development. Thus, Ott1-dependent pathways, in addition to being implicated in leukemogenesis, may also be important for the pathogenesis of placental insufficiency and cardiac malformations.
PMCID: PMC2612519  PMID: 18981216
2.  The OTT-MAL fusion oncogene activates RBPJ-mediated transcription and induces acute megakaryoblastic leukemia in a knockin mouse model 
Acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (AMKL) is a form of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) associated with a poor prognosis. The genetics and pathophysiology of AMKL are not well understood. We generated a knockin mouse model of the one twenty-two–megakaryocytic acute leukemia (OTT-MAL) fusion oncogene that results from the t(1;22)(p13;q13) translocation specifically associated with a subtype of pediatric AMKL. We report here that OTT-MAL expression deregulated transcriptional activity of the canonical Notch signaling pathway transcription factor recombination signal binding protein for immunoglobulin κ J region (RBPJ) and caused abnormal fetal megakaryopoiesis. Furthermore, cooperation between OTT-MAL and an activating mutation of the thrombopoietin receptor myeloproliferative leukemia virus oncogene (MPL) efficiently induced a short-latency AMKL that recapitulated all the features of human AMKL, including megakaryoblast hyperproliferation and maturation block, thrombocytopenia, organomegaly, and extensive fibrosis. Our results establish that concomitant activation of RBPJ (Notch signaling) and MPL (cytokine signaling) transforms cells of the megakaryocytic lineage and suggest that specific targeting of these pathways could be of therapeutic value for human AMKL.
PMCID: PMC2662544  PMID: 19287095
3.  FLT3 mutations confer enhanced proliferation and survival properties to multipotent progenitors in a murine model of chronic myelomonocytic leukemia 
Cancer cell  2007;12(4):367-380.
Despite their known transforming properties, the effects of leukemogenic FLT3-ITD mutations on hematopoietic stem and multipotent progenitor cells and on hematopoietic differentiation are not well understood. We report a mouse model harboring an ITD in the murine Flt3 locus that develops myeloproliferative disease resembling CMML and further identified FLT3-ITD mutations in a subset of human CMML. These findings correlated with an increase in number, cell cycling and survival of multipotent stem and progenitor cells in an ITD dose-dependent manner in animals that exhibited alterations within their myeloid progenitor compartments and a block in normal B-cell development. This model provides insights into the consequences of constitutive signaling by an oncogenic tyrosine kinase on hematopoietic progenitor quiescence, function, and cell fate.
Activating FLT3 mutations are among the most common genetic events in AML and confer a poor clinical prognosis. Essential to our understanding of how these lesions contribute to myeloid leukemia is the development of a Flt3-ITD ‘knock-in’ murine model that has allowed examination of the consequences of constitutive FLT3 signaling on primitive hematopoietic progenitors when expressed at appropriate physiologic levels. These animals informed us to the existence of FLT3-ITD-positive human CMML, which has clinical importance given the availability of FLT3 small molecule inhibitors. This model will not only serve as a powerful biological tool to identify mutations that cooperate with FLT3 in leukemogenesis, but also to assess molecular therapies that target either FLT3 or components of its signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC2104473  PMID: 17936561
4.  Stable expression of small interfering RNA sensitizes TEL-PDGFβR to inhibition with imatinib or rapamycin 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2004;113(12):1784-1791.
Small molecule inhibitors, such as imatinib, are effective therapies for tyrosine kinase fusions BCR-ABL–TEL-PDGFβR–mediated human leukemias, but resistance may develop. The unique fusion junctions of these molecules are attractive candidates for molecularly targeted therapeutic intervention using RNA interference (RNAi), which is mediated by small interfering RNA (siRNA). We developed a retroviral system for stable expression of siRNA directed to the unique fusion junction sequence of TEL-PDGFβR in transformed hematopoietic cells. Stable expression of the siRNA resulted in approximately 90% inhibition of TEL-PDGFβR expression and its downstream effectors, including PI3K and mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Expression of TEL-PDGFβR–specific siRNA (TPsiRNA) significantly attenuated the proliferation of TEL-PDGFβR–transformed Ba/F3 cells or disease latency and penetrance in mice induced by intravenous injection of these Ba/F3 cells. Although a 90% reduction in TEL-PDGFβR expression was insufficient to induce cell death, stable siRNA expression sensitized transformed cells to the PDGFβR inhibitor imatinib or to the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin. TPsiRNA also inhibited an imatinib-resistant TEL-PDGFβR mutant, and the inhibition was enhanced by siRNA in combination with PKC412, another PDGFβR inhibitor. Although siRNA delivery in vivo is a challenging problem, stable expression of siRNA, which targets oncogenic fusion genes, may potentiate the effects of conventional therapy for hematologic malignancies.
PMCID: PMC420507  PMID: 15199413
5.  Conditional expression of oncogenic K-ras from its endogenous promoter induces a myeloproliferative disease 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2004;113(4):528-538.
Oncogenic ras alleles are among the most common mutations found in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Previously, the role of oncogenic ras in cancer was assessed in model systems overexpressing oncogenic ras from heterologous promoters. However, there is increasing evidence that subtle differences in gene dosage and regulation of gene expression from endogenous promoters play critical roles in cancer pathogenesis. We characterized the role of oncogenic K-ras expressed from its endogenous promoter in the hematopoietic system using a conditional allele and IFN-inducible, Cre-mediated recombination. Mice developed a completely penetrant myeloproliferative syndrome characterized by leukocytosis with normal maturation of myeloid lineage cells; myeloid hyperplasia in bone marrow; and extramedullary hematopoiesis in the spleen and liver. Flow cytometry confirmed the myeloproliferative phenotype. Genotypic and Western blot analysis demonstrated Cre-mediated excision and expression, respectively, of the oncogenic K-ras allele. Bone marrow cells formed growth factor–independent colonies in methylcellulose cultures, but the myeloproliferative disease was not transplantable into secondary recipients. Thus, oncogenic K-ras induces a myeloproliferative disorder but not AML, indicating that additional mutations are required for AML development. This model system will be useful for assessing the contribution of cooperating mutations in AML and testing ras inhibitors in vivo.
PMCID: PMC338267  PMID: 14966562
6.  Niche-based screening identifies small-molecule inhibitors of leukemia stem cells 
Nature chemical biology  2013;9(12):840-848.
Efforts to develop more effective therapies for acute leukemia may benefit from high-throughput screening systems that reflect the complex physiology of the disease, including leukemia stem cells (LSCs) and supportive interactions with the bone-marrow microenvironment. The therapeutic targeting of LSCs is challenging because LSCs are highly similar to normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) and are protected by stromal cells in vivo. We screened 14,718 compounds in a leukemia-stroma co-culture system for inhibition of cobblestone formation, a cellular behavior associated with stem-cell function. Among those that inhibited malignant cells but spared HSPCs was the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin. Lovastatin showed anti-LSC activity in vitro and in an in vivo bone marrow transplantation model. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that the effect was on-target, via inhibition of HMGCoA reductase. These results illustrate the power of merging physiologically-relevant models with high-throughput screening.
PMCID: PMC4009363  PMID: 24161946
7.  Fatal myeloproliferation, induced in mice by TEL/PDGFβR expression, depends on PDGFβR tyrosines 579/581 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2000;105(4):423-432.
The t(5;12)(q33;p13) translocation associated with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) generates a TEL/PDGFβR fusion gene. Here, we used a murine bone marrow transplant (BMT) assay to test the transforming properties of TEL/PDGFβR in vivo. TEL/PDGFβR, introduced into whole bone marrow by retroviral transduction, caused a rapidly fatal myeloproliferative disease that closely recapitulated human CMML. TEL/PDGFβR transplanted mice developed leukocytosis with Gr-1+ granulocytes, splenomegaly, evidence of extramedullary hematopoiesis, and bone marrow fibrosis, but no lymphoproliferative disease. We assayed mutant forms of the TEL/PDGFβR fusion protein — including 8 tyrosine to phenylalanine substitutions at phosphorylated PDGFβR sites to which various SH2 domain–containing signaling intermediates bind — for ability to transform hematopoietic cells. All of the phenylalanine (F-) mutants tested conferred IL-3-independence to a cultured murine hematopoietic cell line, but, in the BMT assay, different F-mutants displayed distinct transforming properties. In transplanted animals, tyrosines 579/581 proved critical for the development of myeloproliferative phenotype. F-mutants with these residues mutated showed no sign of myeloproliferation but instead developed T-cell lymphomas. In summary, TEL/PDGFβR is necessary and sufficient to induce a myeloproliferative disease in a murine BMT model, and PDGFβR residues Y579/581 are required for this phenotype.
PMCID: PMC289168  PMID: 10683371
8.  Notch Signaling Specifies Megakaryocyte Development from Hematopoietic Stem Cells 
Cell stem cell  2008;3(3):314-326.
In the hematopoietic system, Notch signaling specifies T cell lineage fate, in part through negative regulation of B cell and myeloid lineage development. However, we unexpectedly observed the development of megakaryocytes when using heterotypic cocultures of hematopoietic stem cells with OP9 cells expressing Delta-like1, but not with parental OP9 cells. This effect was abrogated by inhibition of Notch signaling either with γ-secretase inhibitors or by expression of the dominant-negative Master-mind-like1. The importance of Notch signaling for megakaryopoietic development in vivo was confirmed by using mutant alleles that either activate or inhibit Notch signaling. These findings indicate that Notch is a positive regulator of megakaryopoiesis and plays a more complex role in cell-fate decisions among myeloid progenitors than previously appreciated.
PMCID: PMC3970322  PMID: 18786418
9.  STAT5 Is Crucial to Maintain Leukemic Stem Cells in Acute Myelogenous Leukemias Induced by MOZ-TIF2 
Cancer research  2012;73(1):373-384.
MOZ-TIF2 is a leukemogenic fusion oncoprotein that confers self-renewal capability to hematopoietic progenitor cells and induces acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) with long latency in bone marrow transplantation assays. Here, we report that FLT3-ITD transforms hematopoietic cells in cooperation with MOZ-TIF2 in vitro and in vivo. Coexpression of FLT3-ITD confers growth factor independent survival/proliferation, shortens disease latency, and results in an increase in the number of leukemic stem cells (LSC). We show that STAT5, a major effector of aberrant FLT3-ITD signal transduction, is both necessary and sufficient for this cooperative effect. In addition, STAT5 signaling is essential for MOZ-TIF2–induced leukemic transformation itself. Lack of STAT5 in fetal liver cells caused rapid differentiation and loss of replating capacity of MOZ-TIF2–transduced cells enriched for LSCs. Furthermore, mice serially transplanted with Stat5−/− MOZ-TIF2 leukemic cells develop AML with longer disease latency and finally incomplete penetrance when compared with mice transplanted with Stat5+/+ MOZ-TIF2 leukemic cells. These data suggest that STAT5AB is required for the self-renewal of LSCs and represents a combined signaling node of FLT3-ITD and MOZ-TIF2 driven leukemogenesis. Therefore, targeting aberrantly activated STAT5 or rewired downstream signaling pathways may be a promising therapeutic option.
PMCID: PMC3916953  PMID: 23149921
10.  EGFR Inhibition in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Resistance, Once Again, Rears Its Ugly Head 
PLoS Medicine  2005;2(3):e75.
Most patients with non-small cell lung cancer who initially respond to gefitinib or erlotinib (tyrosine kinase inhibitors) ultimately develop resistance and disease relapse. What is the mechanism for this resistance?
PMCID: PMC549608  PMID: 15736989
11.  AKT/FOXO Signaling Enforces Reversible Differentiation Blockade in Myeloid Leukemias 
Cell  2011;146(5):10.1016/j.cell.2011.07.032.
AKT activation is associated with many malignancies, where AKT acts, in part, by inhibiting FOXO tumor suppressors. We show a converse role for AKT/FOXOs in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Rather than decreased FOXO activity, we observed that FOXOs are active in ∼40% of AML patient samples regardless of genetic subtype. We also observe this activity in human MLL-AF9 leukemia allele-induced AML in mice, where either activation of Akt or compound deletion of FoxO1/3/4 reduced leukemic cell growth, with the latter markedly diminishing leukemia-initiating cell (LIC) function in vivo and improving animal survival. FOXO inhibition resulted in myeloid maturation and subsequent AML cell death. FOXO activation inversely correlated with JNK/c-JUN signaling, and leukemic cells resistant to FOXO inhibition responded to JNK inhibition. These data reveal a molecular role for AKT/FOXO and JNK/c-JUN in maintaining a differentiation blockade that can be targeted to inhibit leukemias with a range of genetic lesions.
PMCID: PMC3826540  PMID: 21884932
12.  mTOR Complex 1 Plays Critical Roles in Hematopoiesis and Pten-Loss-Evoked Leukemogenesis 
Cell stem cell  2012;11(3):429-439.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-pathway serves as a key sensor of cellular-energetic state, and functions to maintain tissue homeostasis. Hyperactivation of the mTOR pathway impairs hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) function and is associated with leukemogenesis. However, the roles of the unique mTOR complexes (mTORCs) in hematopoeisis and leukemogenesis have not been adequately elucidated. We deleted the mTORC1 component, Raptor (regulatory-associated protein of mTOR), in mouse HSC and its loss causes a non-lethal phenotype characterized by pancytopenia, splenomegaly, and the accumulation of monocytoid cells. Furthermore, Raptor is required for HSC regeneration, and plays largely non-redundant roles with Rictor (rapamycin-insensitive companion of mTOR), in these processes. Ablation of Raptor also significantly extends survival of mice in models of leukemogenesis evoked by Pten deficiency. These data delineate critical roles for mTORC1 in hematopoietic function and leukemogenesis, and inform clinical strategies based on chronic mTORC1 inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3743253  PMID: 22958934
13.  Integrative screening approach identifies regulators of polyploidization and targets for acute megakaryocytic leukemia 
Cell  2012;150(3):575-589.
The mechanism by which cells decide to skip mitosis to become polyploid is largely undefined. Here we used a high-content image-based screen to identify small-molecule probes that induce polyploidization of megakaryocytic leukemia cells and serve as perturbagens to help understand this process. We found that dimethylfasudil (diMF, H-1152P) selectively increased polyploidization, mature cell-surface marker expression, and apoptosis of malignant megakaryocytes. A broadly applicable, highly integrated target identification approach employing proteomic and shRNA screening revealed that a major target of diMF is Aurora A kinase (AURKA), which has not been studied extensively in megakaryocytes. Moreover, we discovered that MLN8237 (Alisertib), a selective inhibitor of AURKA, induced polyploidization and expression of mature megakaryocyte markers in AMKL blasts and displayed potent anti-AMKL activity in vivo. This research provides the rationale to support clinical trials of MLN8237 and other inducers of polyploidization in AMKL. Finally, we have identified five networks of kinases that regulate the switch to polyploidy.
PMCID: PMC3613864  PMID: 22863010
14.  A germline JAK2 SNP is associated with predisposition to the development of JAK2V617F-positive myeloproliferative neoplasms 
Nature genetics  2009;41(4):455-459.
Polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia and primary myelofibrosis are myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) characterized by multilineage clonal hematopoiesis1–5. Given that the identical somatic activating mutation in the JAK2 tyrosine kinase gene (JAK2V617F) is observed in most individuals with polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia and primary myelofibrosis6–10, there likely are additional genetic events that contribute to the pathogenesis of these phenotypically distinct disorders. Moreover, family members of individuals with MPN are at higher risk for the development of MPN, consistent with the existence of MPN predisposition loci11. We hypothesized that germline variation contributes to MPN predisposition and phenotypic pleiotropy. Genome-wide analysis identified an allele in the JAK2 locus (rs10974944) that predisposes to the development of JAK2V617F-positive MPN, as well as three previously unknown MPN modifier loci. We found that JAK2V617F is preferentially acquired in cis with the predisposition allele. These data suggest that germline variation is an important contributor to MPN phenotype and predisposition.
PMCID: PMC3676425  PMID: 19287384
15.  Common and overlapping oncogenic pathways contribute to the evolution of acute myeloid leukemias 
Cancer research  2011;71(12):4117-4129.
Fusion oncogenes in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) promote self-renewal from committed progenitors, thereby linking transformation and self-renewal pathways. Like most cancers, AML is a genetically and biologically heterogeneous disease, but it is unclear whether transformation results from common or overlapping genetic programs acting downstream of multiple mutations, or by the engagement of unique genetic programs acting cooperatively downstream of individual mutations. This distinction is important, because the involvement of common programs would imply the existence of common molecular targets to treat AML, no matter which fusion oncogenes are involved. Here we demonstrate that the ability to promote self-renewal is a generalized property of leukemia-associated oncogenes. Disparate oncogenes initiated overlapping transformation and self-renewal gene expression programs, the common elements of which were defined in established leukemia stem cells from an animal model as well as from a large cohort of patients with differing AML subtypes, where they strongly predicted pathobiological character. Notably, individual genes commonly activated in these programs could partially phenocopy the self-renewal function of leukemia-associated oncogenes in committed murine progenitors. Further, they could generate AML following expression in murine bone marrow. In summary, our findings reveal the operation of common programs of self-renewal and transformation downstream of leukemia-associated oncogenes, suggesting mechanistically common therapeutic approaches to AML are likely to be possible, regardless of the identity of the driver oncogene involved.
PMCID: PMC3119437  PMID: 21505102
Leukemia-associated fusion genes; activation of self-renewal; transcriptional dysregulation; common pathways; therapeutic targets
16.  Phase IIB Trial of Oral Midostaurin (PKC412), the FMS-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3 Receptor (FLT3) and Multi-Targeted Kinase Inhibitor, in Patients With Acute Myeloid Leukemia and High-Risk Myelodysplastic Syndrome With Either Wild-Type or Mutated FLT3 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(28):4339-4345.
Mutations leading to constitutive activation of the FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 receptor (FLT3) occur in blasts of 30% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Midostaurin (PKC412; N-benzoylstaurosporin) is a multitargeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor, with demonstrated activity in patients with AML/myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) with FLT3 mutations.
Patients and Methods
Ninety-five patients with AML or MDS with either wild-type (n = 60) or mutated (n = 35) FLT3 were randomly assigned to receive oral midostaurin at 50 or 100 mg twice daily. The drug was discontinued in the absence of response at 2 months, disease progression, or unacceptable toxicity. Response was defined as complete response, partial response (PR), hematologic improvement, or reduction in peripheral blood or bone marrow blasts by ≥ 50% (BR).
The rate of BR for the population in whom efficacy could be assessed (n = 92) was 71% in patients with FLT3-mutant and 42% in patients with FLT3 wild-type. One PR occurred in a patient with FLT3-mutant receiving the 100-mg dose regimen. Both doses were well-tolerated; there were no differences in toxicity or response rate according to the dose of midostaurin.
These results suggest that midostaurin has hematologic activity in both patients with FLT3-mutant and wild-type. The degree of clinical activity observed supports additional studies that combine midostaurin and other agents such as chemotherapy especially in FLT3-mutant AML.
PMCID: PMC4135183  PMID: 20733134
17.  Physiological Jak2V617F expression causes a lethal myeloproliferative neoplasm with differential effects on hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells 
Cancer cell  2010;17(6):584-596.
We report a Jak2V617F knock-in mouse myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) model resembling human polycythemia vera (PV). The MPN is serially transplantable and we demonstrate that the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) compartment has the unique capacity for disease initiation but does not have a significant selective competitive advantage over wild type HSCs. In contrast, myeloid progenitor populations are expanded and skewed towards the erythroid lineage, but cannot transplant the disease. Treatment with a JAK2 kinase inhibitor ameliorated the MPN phenotype, but did not eliminate the disease-initiating population. These findings provide insights into the consequences of JAK2 activation on HSC differentiation and function and have the potential to inform therapeutic approaches to JAK2V617F positive MPN.
The JAK2V617F mutation is a promising candidate for molecularly targeted therapy in MPN. Early data from JAK2 inhibitor clinical trials have called into question the capacity of these compounds to alter the natural history of JAK2V617F mediated MPN. Determining the effect of JAK2 inhibitors on the disease-initiating population requires a model in which the JAK2V617F allele is expressed at physiological levels in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, as it is in humans. Our model demonstrates that JAK2V617F causes expansion of erythroid progenitors but that only the HSC compartment can initiate disease in a transplanted mouse. We further demonstrate that the HSC compartment, the definitive target for curative therapy of JAK2V617F mediated MPN, is resistant to treatment with a JAK2 inhibitor.
PMCID: PMC2909585  PMID: 20541703
18.  Musashi-2 regulates normal hematopoiesis and promotes aggressive myeloid leukemia 
Nature medicine  2010;16(8):903-908.
RNA-binding proteins of the Musashi (Msi) family are expressed in stem cell compartments and in aggressive tumors, but they have not yet been widely explored in the blood. Here we demonstrate that Msi2 is the predominant form expressed in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and its knockdown leads to reduced engraftment and depletion of HSCs in vivo. Overexpression of human MSI2 in a mouse model increases HSC cell cycle progression and cooperates with the chronic myeloid leukemia–associated BCR-ABL1 oncoprotein to induce an aggressive leukemia. MSI2 is overexpressed in human myeloid leukemia cell lines, and its depletion leads to decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis. Expression levels in human myeloid leukemia directly correlate with decreased survival in patients with the disease, thereby defining MSI2 expression as a new prognostic marker and as a new target for therapy in acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
PMCID: PMC3090658  PMID: 20616797
19.  mTOR activation induces tumor suppressors that inhibit leukemogenesis and deplete hematopoietic stem cells after Pten deletion 
Cell stem cell  2010;7(5):593-605.
Pten deficiency depletes hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) but expands leukemia-initiating cells and the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, blocks these effects. Understanding the opposite effects of mTOR activation on HSCs versus leukemia-initiating cells could improve anti-leukemia therapies. We found that the depletion of Pten-deficient HSCs was not caused by oxidative stress and could not be blocked by N-acetyl-cysteine. Instead, Pten deletion induced, and rapamycin attenuated, the expression of p16Ink4a and p53 in HSCs, and p19Arf and p53 in other hematopoietic cells. p53 suppressed leukemogenesis and promoted HSC depletion after Pten deletion. p16Ink4a also promoted HSC depletion but had a limited role suppressing leukemogenesis. p19Arf strongly suppressed leukemogenesis but did not deplete HSCs. Secondary mutations attenuated this tumor suppressor response in some leukemias that arose after Pten deletion. mTOR activation therefore depletes HSCs by a tumor suppressor response that is attenuated by secondary mutations in leukemogenic clones.
PMCID: PMC2995996  PMID: 21040901
Pten; hematopoietic stem cell; leukemia-initiating cell; mTOR; Ink4a/Arf; p53
20.  Hedgehog Signaling Is Dispensable for Adult Murine Hematopoietic Stem Cell Function and Hematopoiesis 
Cell stem cell  2009;4(6):559-567.
We report the unexpected finding that loss of Hh signaling through conditional deletion of Smoothened (Smo) in the adult hematopoietic compartment has no apparent effect on adult hematopoiesis, including peripheral blood count, number or cell-cycle status of stem or progenitor cells, hematopoietic colony-forming potential, long-term repopulating activity in competitive repopulation assays, or stress response to serial 5-fluorouracil treatment. Furthermore, pharmacologic inhibition of Hh signaling with a potent and selective small molecule antagonist has no substantive effect on hematopoiesis in the mouse. In addition, Hh signaling is not required for the development of MLL-AF9-mediated acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Taken together, these data demonstrate that Hh signaling is dispensable for normal hematopoietic development and hematopoietic stem cell function, indicating that targeting of Hh signaling in solid tumors is not likely to result in hematopoietic toxicity. Furthermore, the Hh pathway may not be a compelling target in certain hematopoietic malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3065323  PMID: 19497284
21.  Transcriptional Profiling Of Polycythemia Vera Identifies Gene Expression Patterns Both Dependent And Independent From The Action Of JAK2V617F 
To understand the changes in gene expression in PV progenitor cells and their relationship to JAK2V617F
Experimental Design
mRNA isolated from CD34+ cells from 9 PV patients and normal controls was profiled using Affymetrix arrays. Gene expression change mediated by JAK2V617F was determined by profiling CD34+ cells transduced with the kinase and by analysis of leukemia cell lines harboring JAK2V617F, treated with an inhibitor.
A PV expression signature was enriched for genes involved in hematopoietic development, inflammatory responses and cell proliferation. By quantitative RT-PCR, 23 genes were consistently deregulated in all patient samples. Several of these genes such as WT1 and KLF4 were regulated by JAK2, while others such as NFIB and EVI1 appeared to be deregulated in PV by a JAK2 independent mechanism. Using cell line models and comparing gene expression profiles of cell lines and PV CD34+ PV specimens, we have identified panels of JAK2 dependent 14 genes and JAK2 independent 12 genes. These two 14 and 12 gene sets could separate not only PV from normal CD34+ specimens, but also other MPN such as ET and MF from their normal counterparts.
A subset of the aberrant gene expression in PV progenitor cells can be attributed to the action of the mutant kinase, but there remain a significant number of genes characteristic of the disease but deregulated by as yet unknown mechanisms. Genes deregulated in PV as a result of the action of JAK2V617F or independent of the kinase may represent other targets for therapy.
PMCID: PMC2947624  PMID: 20601445
22.  Hematopoietic Stem Cell Defects in Mice with Deficiency of Fancd2 or Usp1 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2010;28(7):1186-1195.
Fanconi anemia (FA) is a human genetic disease characterized by a DNA repair defect and progressive bone marrow failure. Central events in the FA pathway are the monoubiquitination of the Fancd2 protein and the removal of ubiquitin by the deubiquitinating enzyme, Usp1. Here, we have investigated the role of Fancd2 and Usp1 in the maintenance and function of murine hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Bone marrow from Fancd2−/− mice and Usp1−/− mice exhibited marked hematopoietic defects. A decreased frequency of the HSC populations including Lin-Sca-1+Kit+ cells and cells enriched for dormant HSCs expressing signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM) markers, was observed in the bone marrow of Fancd2-deficient mice. In addition, bone marrow from Fancd2−/− mice contained significantly reduced frequencies of late-developing cobblestone area-forming cell activity in vitro compared to the bone marrow from wild-type mice. Furthermore, Fancd2-deficient and Usp1-deficient bone marrow had defective long-term in vivo repopulating ability. Collectively, our data reveal novel functions of Fancd2 and Usp1 in maintaining the bone marrow HSC compartment and suggest that FA pathway disruption may account for bone marrow failure in FA patients.
PMCID: PMC2910804  PMID: 20506303
Hematopoiesis and Stem Cells; Fancd2 mice; Usp1 mice
23.  Accurate Detection of Uniparental Disomy and Microdeletions by SNP Array Analysis in Myelodysplastic Syndromes with Normal Cytogenetics 
Progress in the management of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) has been hampered by the inability to detect cytogenetic abnormalities in 40-60% of cases. We prospectively analyzed matched pairs of bone marrow and buccal cell (normal) DNA samples from 51 MDS patients by single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays, and identified somatically acquired clonal genomic abnormalities in 21 patients (41%). Among the 33 patients with normal bone marrow cell karyotypes, five (15%) had clonal, somatically acquired aberrations by SNP array analysis, including four with segmental uniparental disomies (UPD) and one with three separate microdeletions. Each abnormality was detected more readily in CD34+ cells then in unselected bone marrow cells. Paired analysis of bone marrow and buccal cell DNA from each patient was necessary to distinguish true clonal genomic abnormalities from inherited copy number variations and regions with apparent LOH. UPDs affecting chromosome 7q were identified in two patients who had a rapidly deteriorating clinical course despite a low-risk International Prognostic Scoring System score (IPSS). Further studies of larger numbers of patients will be needed to determine whether 7q UPD detected by SNP array analysis will identify higher-risk MDS patients at diagnosis, analogous to those with 7q cytogenetic abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC2950785  PMID: 19387468
Myelodysplastic Syndrome; SNP array; Uniparental Disomy
24.  Direct inhibition of the NOTCH transcription factor complex 
Nature  2009;462(7270):182-188.
Direct inhibition of transcription factor complexes remains a central challenge in the discipline of ligand discovery. In general, these proteins lack surface involutions suitable for high-affinity binding by small molecules. Here we report the design of synthetic, cell-permeable, stabilized α-helical peptides that target a critical protein–protein interface in the NOTCH transactivation complex. We demonstrate that direct, high-affinity binding of the hydrocarbon-stapled peptide SAHM1 prevents assembly of the active transcriptional complex. Inappropriate NOTCH activation is directly implicated in the pathogenesis of several disease states, including T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL). The treatment of leukaemic cells with SAHM1 results in genome-wide suppression of NOTCH-activated genes. Direct antagonism of the NOTCH transcriptional program causes potent, NOTCH-specific anti-proliferative effects in cultured cells and in a mouse model of NOTCH1-driven T-ALL.
PMCID: PMC2951323  PMID: 19907488
25.  JAK2 Exon 12 Mutations in Polycythemia Vera and Idiopathic Erythrocytosis 
The New England journal of medicine  2007;356(5):459-468.
The V617F mutation, which causes the substitution of phenylalanine for valine at position 617 of the Janus kinase (JAK) 2 gene (JAK2), is often present in patients with polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, and idiopathic myelofibrosis. However, the molecular basis of these myeloproliferative disorders in patients without the V617F mutation is unclear.
We searched for new mutations in members of the JAK and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) gene families in patients with V617F-negative polycythemia vera or idiopathic erythrocytosis. The mutations were characterized biochemically and in a murine model of bone marrow transplantation.
We identified four somatic gain-of-function mutations affecting JAK2 exon 12 in 10 V617F-negative patients. Those with a JAK2 exon 12 mutation presented with an isolated erythrocytosis and distinctive bone marrow morphology, and several also had reduced serum erythropoietin levels. Erythroid colonies could be grown from their blood samples in the absence of exogenous erythropoietin. All such erythroid colonies were heterozygous for the mutation, whereas colonies homozygous for the mutation occur in most patients with V617F-positive polycythemia vera. BaF3 cells expressing the murine erythropoietin receptor and also carrying exon 12 mutations could proliferate without added interleukin-3. They also exhibited increased phosphorylation of JAK2 and extracellular regulated kinase 1 and 2, as compared with cells transduced by wild-type JAK2 or V617F JAK2. Three of the exon 12 mutations included a substitution of leucine for lysine at position 539 of JAK2. This mutation resulted in a myeloproliferative phenotype, including erythrocytosis, in a murine model of retroviral bone marrow transplantation.
JAK2 exon 12 mutations define a distinctive myeloproliferative syndrome that affects patients who currently receive a diagnosis of polycythemia vera or idiopathic erythrocytosis.
PMCID: PMC2873834  PMID: 17267906

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