The 5-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine antifolate pemetrexed (Pmx) is an active agent for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). Pmx is transported into MPM cells by the reduced folate carrier (RFC) and proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT). We tested the notion that a novel 6-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine thienoyl antifolate (compound 2) might be an effective treatment for MPM, reflecting its highly selective membrane transport by PCFT over RFC. Compound 2 selectively inhibited proliferation of a HeLa subline expressing exclusively PCFT (R1-11-PCFT4) over an isogenic subline expressing only RFC (R1-11-RFC6). By outgrowth, H2452 human MPM cells were highly sensitive to the inhibitory effects of compound 2. By colony-forming assays, following an intermittent (24 h) drug exposure, 2 was cytotoxic. Cytotoxic activity by 2 was due to potent inhibition of glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase (GARFTase) in de novo purine biosynthesis, as confirmed by nucleoside protection and in situ GARFTase assays with [14C]glycine. Assays with [3H]compound 2 and R1-11-PCFT4 or R1-11-RFC6 cells directly confirmed selective membrane transport by PCFT over RFC. PCFT transport was also confirmed for H2452 cells. In R1-11-PCFT4 and H2452 cells, [3H]compound 2 was metabolized to polyglutamates. Potent in vivo efficacy was confirmed toward early- and upstage H2452 xenografts in severe combined immunodeficient mice administered intravenous compound 2. Our results demonstrate potent antitumor efficacy of compound 2 toward H2452 MPM in vitro and in vivo, reflecting its efficient membrane transport by PCFT over RFC, synthesis of polyglutamates, and inhibition of GARFTase. Selectivity for non-RFC cellular uptake processes by novel tumor-targeted antifolates such as compound 2 presents an exciting new opportunity for treating solid tumors.
proton-coupled folate transporter; mesothelioma; folate; antifolate; pemetrexed
Folates, the generic term for the family of B vitamins, are derived entirely from dietary sources, and are key one-carbon donors required for de novo nucleotide and methionine synthesis. These highly hydrophilic molecules utilize genetically distinct and functionally diverse transport systems to enter cells: the reduced folate carrier (RFC), the proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT), and the folate receptors. Each plays a unique role in mediating folate transport across epithelia and into systemic tissues. With the recent discovery of the mechanism of intestinal folate absorption, and the clarification of the genetic basis for the autosomal recessive disorder, hereditary folate malabsorption, involving loss-of-function mutations in PCFT protein, it is now possible to piece together how these folate transporters contribute, both individually and collectively, to folate homeostasis in humans. This review focuses on the physiological roles of these major folate transporters with a brief consideration of their impact on the pharmacological activities of antifolates.
t(8;21)(q22;q22) results in the AML1-ETO (A1E) fusion gene and is a common cytogenetic abnormality in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Although insertions at the breakpoint region of the A1E fusion transcripts have been reported, additional structural alterations are largely uncharacterized. By RT-PCR amplifications and DNA sequencing, numerous in-frame and out-of-frame AML1b-ETO and AML1c-ETO transcripts were identified in 13 pediatric t(8;21) AMLs, likely resulting from alternate splicing, internal deletions, and/or breakpoint region insertions involving both the AML1 (RUNX1) and ETO regions. The in-frame A1E fusion transcript forms represented minor forms. These structure alterations were found in AML1c-ETO but not AML1b-ETO transcripts in 2 adult t(8;21) AMLs. Although no analogous alterations were detected in native AML1b transcripts, identical alterations in native ETO transcripts were identified. When transfected into HeLa cells, only AML1b, and not the in-frame A1E forms, transactivated the GM-CSF promoter. In co-transfection experiments, the effects of A1E proteins on GM-CSF transactivation by AML1b ranged from repressive to activating. Our results demonstrate a remarkable and unprecedented heterogeneity in A1E fusion transcripts in t(8;21) myeloblasts and suggest that synthesis of alternate A1E transcript and protein forms can significantly impact the regulation of AML1 responsive genes.
t(8;21); AML1-ETO; acute myeloid leukemia; fusion transcripts
It has been previously shown that acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients with higher levels of GATA1 expression have poorer outcomes. Furthermore, pediatric Down syndrome (DS) patients with acute megakaryocytic leukemia (AMKL), whose blast cells almost universally harbor somatic mutations in exon 2 of the transcription factor gene GATA1, demonstrate increased overall survival relative to non-DS pediatric patients, suggesting a potential role for GATA1 in chemotherapy response. In this study, we confirmed that amongst non-DS patients, GATA1 transcripts were significantly higher in AMKL blasts compared to blasts from other AML subgroups. Further, GATA1 transcript levels significantly correlated with transcript levels for the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL in our patient cohort. ShRNA knockdown of GATA1 in the megakaryocytic cell line Meg-01 resulted in significantly increased cytarabine (ara-C) and daunorubicin anti-proliferative sensitivities and decreased Bcl-xL transcript and protein levels. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and reporter gene assays demonstrated that the Bcl-x gene (which transcribes the Bcl-xL transcripts) is a bona fide GATA1 target gene in AMKL cells. Treatment of the Meg-01 cells with the histone deacetylase inhibitor valproic acid resulted in down-regulation of both GATA1 and Bcl-xL and significantly enhanced ara-C sensitivity. Furthermore, additional GATA1 target genes were identified by oligonucleotide microarray and ChIP-on-Chip analyses. Our findings demonstrate a role for GATA1 in chemotherapy resistance in non-DS AMKL cells, and identified additional GATA1 target genes for future studies.
The human RFC (hRFC) gene is regulated by five major 5’ non-coding exons, characterized by alternate transcription start sites and splice forms. The result is up to 14 hRFC transcripts for which different 5’ untranslated regions (UTRs) are fused to a common coding sequence. By in vitro translation assays with hRFC constructs corresponding to the major transcript forms, most of the forms were translated poorly. Upon expression of the 5’UTR-hRFC constructs in hRFC-null HeLa cells, a range of steady state hRFC proteins and transcripts were detected that reflected relative transcript stabilities and, to a lesser extent, translation efficiencies. Transcripts including 5’ UTRs derived from non-coding exon A encoded a modified hRFC protein translated from an upstream initiation site. When this modified hRFC protein was expressed in hRFC-null K562 cells, there were only minor differences in surface targeting, stability, or transport function from wild type hRFC. Our results demonstrate an important role for posttranscriptional determinants of cellular hRFC levels and activity.
We reported the selective transport of classical 2-amino-4-oxo-6-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidines with a thienoyl-for-benzoyl-substituted side chain and a 3- (3a) and 4-carbon (3b) bridge. Compound 3a was more potent than 3b against tumor cells; While 3b was completely selective for transport by folate receptors (FRs) and the proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT) over reduced folate carrier (RFC), 3a was not. To determine if decreasing the distance between the bicyclic scaffold and L-glutamate in 3b would preserve transport selectivity and potency against human tumor cells, 3b regioisomers with [1,3] (7 and 8) and [1,2] (4, 5 and 6) substitutions on the thienoyl ring, and with acetylenic insertions in the 4-atom bridge, were synthesized and evaluated. Compounds 7 and 8 were potent nanomolar inhibitors of KB and IGROV1 human tumor cells with complete selectivity for FRα and PCFT over RFC.
This review summarizes the biology of the proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT). PCFT was identified in 2006 as the primary transporter for intestinal absorption of dietary folates, as mutations in PCFT are causal in hereditary folate malabsorption (HFM) syndrome. Since 2006, there have been major advances in understanding the mechanistic roles of critical amino acids and/or domains in the PCFT protein, many of which were identified as mutated in HFM patients, and in characterizing transcriptional control of the human PCFT gene. With the recognition that PCFT is abundantly expressed in human tumors and is active at pHs characterizing the tumor microenvironment, attention turned to exploiting PCFT for delivering novel cytotoxic antifolates for solid tumors. The finding that pemetrexed is an excellent PCFT substrate explains its demonstrated clinical efficacy for mesothelioma and non-small cell lung cancer, and prompted development of more PCFT-selective tumor-targeted 6-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine antifolates that derive their cytotoxic effects by targeting de novo purine nucleotide biosynthesis.
folate; antifolate; transport; proton-coupled folate transporter; reduced folate carrier; tumor microenvironment
2-Amino-4-oxo-6-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine antifolates with a thienoyl side chain (compounds 1–3, respectively) were synthesized for comparison with compound 4, the previous lead compound of this series. Conversion of hydroxyl acetylen-thiophene carboxylic esters to thiophenyl-α-bromomethylketones and condensation with 2,4-diamino-6-hydroxypyrimidine afforded the 6-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine compounds of type 18 and 19. Coupling with L-glutamate diethyl ester, followed by saponification, afforded 1–3. Compound 3 selectively inhibited proliferation of cells expressing folate receptors (FRs) α or β, or the proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT), including human tumor cells KB and IGROV1 much more potently than 4. Compound 3 was more inhibitory than 4 toward β-glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase (GARFTase). Both 3 and 4 depleted cellular ATP pools. In SCID mice with IGROV1 tumors, 3 was more efficacious than 4. Collectively, our results show potent antitumor activity for 3 in vitro and in vivo, associated with its selective membrane transport by FRs and PCFT over RFC and inhibition of GARFTase, clearly establishing the 3-atom bridge as superior to the 1, 2 and 4-atom bridge lengths for the activity of this series.
To determine the possibility of synergistic anti-leukemic activity and the underlying molecular mechanisms associated with cytarabine combined with valproic acid (VPA) [a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACI) and an FDA-licensed drug for treating both children and adults with epilepsy] in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
The type and extent of anti-leukemic interactions between cytarabine and VPA in clinically relevant pediatric AML cell lines and diagnostic blasts from children with AML were determined by MTT assays and standard isobologram analyses. The effects of cytarabine and VPA on apoptosis and cell cycle distributions were determined by flow cytometry analysis and caspase enzymatic assays. The effects of the two agents on DNA damage and Bcl-2 family proteins were determined by Western blotting.
We demonstrated synergistic antileukemic activities between cytarabine and VPA in 4 pediatric AML cell lines and 9 diagnostic AML blast samples. t(8;21) AML blasts were significantly more sensitive to VPA and showed far greater sensitivities to combined cytarabine and VPA than non-t(8;21) AML cases. Cytarabine and VPA cooperatively induced DNA double strand breaks, reflected in induction of γH2AX and apoptosis, accompanied by activation of caspases 9 and 3. Further, VPA induced Bim expression and shRNA knockdown of Bim resulted in significantly decreased apoptosis induced by cytarabine, and by cytarabine plus VPA.
Our results establish global synergistic antileukemic activity of combined VPA and cytarabine in pediatric AML and provide compelling evidence to support the use of VPA in the treatment of children with this deadly disease.
2-Amino-4-oxo-6-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidines with a thienoyl side chain and 4-6 carbon bridge lengths (compounds 1-3) were synthesized as substrates for folate receptors (FRs) and the proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT). Conversion of acetylene carboxylic acids to α-bromomethylketones and condensation with 2,4-diamino-6-hydroxypyrimidine afforded the 6-substituted pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidines. Sonogashira coupling with (S)-2-[(5-bromo-thiophene-2-carbonyl)-amino]-pentanedioic acid diethyl ester, followed by hydrogenation and saponification, afforded 1-3. Compounds 1 and 2 potently inhibited KB and IGROV1 human tumor cells that express FRα, reduced folate carrier (RFC), and PCFT. The analogs were selective for FR- and PCFT over RFC. Glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase was the principal cellular target. In SCID mice with KB tumors, 1 was highly active against both early (3.5 log kill, 1/5 cures) and advanced (3.7 log kill, 4/5 complete remissions) stage tumors. Our results demonstrate potent in vitro and in vivo antitumor activity for 1 due to selective transport by FRs and PCFT over RFC.
RFC (reduced folate carrier) is the major transporter for reduced folates and antifolates [e.g. MTX (methotrexate)]. RFC is characterized by two halves, each with six TMD (transmembrane domain) α helices connected by a hydrophilic loop, and cytoplasmic N- and C-termini. We previously identified TMDs 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 as forming the hydrophilic cavity for translocation of (anti)folates. The proximal end of TMD8 (positions 311–314) was implicated in substrate binding from scanning-cysteine accessibility methods; cysteine replacement of Ser313 resulted in loss of transport. In the present study, Ser313 was mutated to alanine, cysteine, phenylalanine and threonine. Mutant RFCs were expressed in RFC-null R5 HeLa cells. Replacement of Ser313 with cysteine or phenylalanine abolished MTX transport, whereas residual activity was preserved for the alanine and threonine mutants. In stable K562 transfectants, S313A and S313T RFCs showed substantially decreased Vmax values without changes in Kt values for MTX compared with wild-type RFC. S313A and S313T RFCs differentially impacted binding of ten diverse (anti)folate substrates. Cross-linking between TMD8 and TMD5 was studied by expressing cysteine-less TMD1–6 (N6) and TMD7–12 (C6) half-molecules with cysteine insertions spanning these helices in R5 cells, followed by treatment with thiol-reactive homobifunctional cross-linkers. C6–C6 and N6–N6 cross-links were seen for all cysteine pairs. From the N6 and C6 cysteine pairs, Cys175/Cys311 was cross-linked; cross-linking increased in the presence of transport substrates. The results of the present study indicate that the proximal end of TMD8 is juxtaposed to TMD5 and is conformationally active in the presence of transport substrates, and TMD8, including Ser313, probably contributes to the RFC substrate-binding domain.
antifolate; cross-linking; folate; major facilitator superfamily; mutagenesis; oligomer; reduced folate carrier; transporter; BMH, 1,6-bis(maleimido)hexane; C6, transmembrane domains 7–12; cl, cysteine-less; HA, haemagglutinin; MFS, major facilitator superfamily; MTSES, 2-sulfonatoethyl methanethiosulfonate; MTX, methotrexate; N6, transmembrane domains 1–6; p-PDM, p-phenylenedimaleimide; RFC, reduced folate carrier; hRFC, human RFC; TMD, transmembrane domain; wt, wild-type
We explored the impact of mutations in the NOTCH1, FBW7 and PTEN genes on prognosis and downstream signaling in a well-defined cohort of 47 pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) patients. In T-ALL lymphoblasts, we identified high frequency mutations in NOTCH1 (n=16), FBW7 (n=5) and PTEN (n=26). NOTCH1 mutations resulted in 1.3-3.3-fold increased transactivation of a HES1 reporter construct over wild-type NOTCH1; mutant FBW7 resulted in further augmentation of reporter gene activity. NOTCH1 and FBW7 mutations were accompanied by increased median transcripts for NOTCH1 target genes (HES1, DELTEX1, cMYC). However, none of these mutations were associated with treatment outcome. Elevated HES1, DELTEX1 and cMYC transcripts were associated with significant increases in transcript levels of several chemotherapy relevant genes, including MDR1, ABCC5, reduced folate carrier, asparagine synthetase, thiopurine methyltranserase, Bcl-2 and dihydrofolate reductase. PTEN transcripts positively correlated with HES1 and cMYC transcript levels. Our results suggest that (1) multiple factors should be considered with attempting to identify molecular-based prognostic factors for pediatric T-ALL, and (2) depending on the NOTCH1 signaling status, modifications in the types or dosing of standard chemotherapy drugs for T-ALL, or combinations of agents capable of targeting NOTCH1, AKT and/or mTOR with standard chemotherapy agents may be warranted.
acute lymphoblastic leukemia; NOTCH1; FBW7; PTEN; HES1; DELTEX1; cMYC; chemotherapy; T-cell
A series of 6-substituted classical pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidine antifolates with a 3- to 6-carbon bridge between the heterocycle and the benzoyl-L-glutamate (compounds 2, 3, 4 and 5, respectively) was synthesized starting from methyl 4-formylbenzoate and a Wittig reaction with the appropriate triphenylphosphonium bromide, followed by reduction and conversion to the α-bromomethylketones. Cyclocondensation of 2,4-diamino-4-oxopyrimidine with the α-bromoketones, coupling with diethyl-L-glutamate and saponification afforded 2–5. Compounds 2–5 had negligible substrate activity for RFC but showed variably potent (nanomolar) and selective inhibitory activities toward Chinese hamster ovary cells that expressed FRα or FRβ, and toward FRα-expressing KB and IGROV1 human tumor cells. Inhibition of KB cell colony formation was also observed. Glycinamide ribonucleotide formyl transferase (GARFTase) was identified as the primary intracellular target of the pyrrolo[2,3-d]pyrimidines. The combined properties of selective FR targeting, lack of RFC transport, and GARFTase inhibition resulting in potent antitumor activity are unprecedented and warrant development of these analogs as antitumor agents.
A series of seven 2-amino-4-oxo-6-substituted thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidines, with bridge length variations (from 2-8 carbon atoms) were synthesized as selective folate receptor (FR) α and β substrates and as antitumor agents. The syntheses were accomplished from appropriate allylalcohols and 4-iodobenzoate to afford the aldehydes which were converted to the appropriate 2-amino-4-carbethoxy-5-substituted thiophenes 23-29. Cyclization with chlorformamidine afforded the thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidines 30-36 which were hydrolyzed and coupled with diethyl-L-glutamate, followed by saponification to give the target compounds 2-8. Compounds 3-6 were potent growth inhibitors (IC50 4.7 to 334 nM) of human tumor cells (KB and IGROV1) that express FRs. In addition, compounds 3-6 inhibited the growth of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells that expressed FRs but not the reduced folate carrier (RFC) or proton-coupled folate transporter (PCFT). However, the compounds were inactive toward CHO cells that lacked FRs but contained either the RFC or PCFT. By nucleoside and 5-amino-4-imidazole carboxamide (AICA) protection studies, along with in vitro and in situ enzyme activity assays, the mechanism of antitumor activity was identified as the dual inhibition of glycinamide ribonucleotide formyltransferase and, likely, AICA ribonucleotide formyltransferase. The dual inhibitory activity of the active thieno[2,3-d]pyrimidine antifolates and the FR specificity represent unique mechanistic features for these compounds distinct from all other known antifolates. The potent inhibitory effects of compounds 3-6 toward cells expressing FRs but not PCFT provide direct evidence that cellular uptake of this series of compounds by FRs does not depend on the presence of PCFT and argues that direct coupling between these transporters is not obligatory.
The ubiquitously expressed reduced folate carrier (RFC) or SLC19A1 is recognized to be an essential transport system for folates in mammalian cells and tissues. In addition to its generalized role as a folate transporter, RFC provides specialized tissue functions including absorption across intestinal/colonic epithelia, transport across the basolateral membrane of renal proximal tubules, transplacental transport of folates, and folate transport across the blood-brain barrier. The human RFC (hRFC) gene is regulated by 5 major upstream non-coding regions (designated A1/A2, A, B, C, and D), each transcribed from a unique promoter. Altogether, at least 14 distinct hRFC transcripts can be envisaged in which different 5’ untranslated regions (UTRs) are fused to a common splice acceptor region (positions -1 to -49) within the first coding exon with a common 1776 bp coding sequence. The 5’ non-coding regions are characterized by alternate transcription start sites, multiple splice forms, and selective tissue distributions. Alternate 5’UTRs impact mRNA stabilities and translation efficiencies, and result in synthesis of modified hRFC proteins translated from upstream AUGs. In this report, we describe production and characterization of transgenic mice (TghRFC1) containing a functional hRFC gene and of humanized mice in which the mRFC gene is inactivated and an active hRFC gene has been introduced. The mice appear to be healthy and to breed well. Analysis of tissue specificity of expression in both the TghRFC1 and humanized hRFC mice by real-time RT-PCR demonstrates that the hRFC gene is expressed with a specificity closely resembling that seen in human tissues. For the humanized hRFC mice, levels of B and A1/A2 5’UTRs predominated in all mice/tissues, thus resembling results in normal human tissues. Lower levels of A and C 5’UTRs were also detected. The availability of humanized mouse models for hRFC will permit investigators to address critical unanswered questions pertinent to human health and disease. These include the ability to analyze the hRFC gene in vivo, to control dietary and other environmental conditions that may impact levels of gene expression, and to control the genetics of the mice in order to assess the effects of hRFC gene alterations on tissue folate uptake and distribution, none of which can be easily achieved in human populations.
reduced folate carrier; mouse models; folate homeostasis; promoter usage
The tripeptide GSH is important in maintenance of renal redox status and defense against reactive electrophiles and oxidants. Previous studies showed that GSH is transported across the basolateral plasma membrane (BLM) into the renal proximal tubule by both sodium-coupled and sodium-independent pathways. Substrate specificity and inhibitor studies suggested the function of several carriers, including organic anion transporter 3 (Oat3). To test the hypothesis that rat Oat 3 can function in renal GSH transport, the cDNA for rat Oat3 was expressed as a His6-tagged protein in E. coli, purified from inclusion bodies and by Ni2+-affinity chromatography, and reconstituted into proteoliposomes. cDNA-expressed and reconstituted Oat3 transported both GSH and p-aminohippurate (PAH) in exchange for 2-oxoglutarate (2-OG) and 2-OG and PAH in exchange for GSH, and PAH uptake was inhibited by both probenecid and furosemide, consistent with function of Oat3. mRNA expression of Oat3 and several other potential carriers was detected by semiquantitative RT-PCR in rat kidney cortex but was absent from NRK-52E cells, a rat proximal tubular cell line. Basolateral uptake of GSH in NRK-52E cells showed little PAH- or 2-OG-stimulated uptake. We conclude that Oat3 can function in GSH uptake and that NRK-52E cells possess a low background rate of GSH uptake, making these cells a good model for overexpression of specific, putative GSH carriers.
Glutathione; Transport; Rat Kidney; Basolateral Plasma Membrane; Organic Anion Transporters; mRNA Expression
We previously showed that two anion carriers of the mitochondrial inner membrane, the dicarboxylate carrier (DIC; Slc25a10) and oxoglutarate carrier (OGC; Slc25a11), transport glutathione (GSH) from cytoplasm into mitochondrial matrix. In the previous study, NRK-52E cells, derived from normal rat kidney proximal tubules, were transfected with the wild-type cDNA for the DIC expressed in rat kidney; DIC transfectants exhibited increased mitochondrial uptake and accumulation of GSH and were markedly protected from chemically induced apoptosis. In the present study, cDNAs for both wild-type (WT) and a double-cysteine mutant of rat OGC (rOGC and rOGC-C221,224S, respectively) were expressed in Escherichia coli, purified, and reconstituted into proteoliposomes to assess their function. Although both WT rOGC and rOGC-C221,224S exhibited transport properties for GSH and 2-oxoglutarate that were similar to those found in mitochondria of rat kidney proximal tubules, rates of transport and mitochondrial accumulation of substrates were reduced by > 75% in rOGC-C221,224S compared with the WT carrier. NRK-52E cells were stably transfected with the cDNA for WT-rOGC and exhibited 10- to 20-fold higher GSH transport activity than nontransfected cells and were markedly protected from apoptosis induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide (tBH) or S-(1,2-dichlorovinyl)-l-cysteine (DCVC). In contrast, cells stably transfected with the cDNA for rOGC-C221,224S were not protected from tBH- or DCVC-induced apoptosis. These results provide further evidence that genetic manipulation of mitochondrial GSH transporter expression alters mitochondrial and cellular GSH status, resulting in markedly altered susceptibility to chemically induced apoptosis.
GSH, glutathione; DIC, dicarboxylate carrier; 2-OG, 2-oxoglutarate; OGC, oxoglutarate carrier; rDIC, rat dicarboxylate carrier; tBH, tert-butyl hydroperoxide; WT, wild-type; rOGC, rat 2-oxoglutarate carrier; DCVC, S-(1; 2-dichlorovinyl)-l-cysteine; PCR, polymerase chain reaction; SDS, sodium dodecyl sulfate; RT-PCR, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction; bp, base pair(s); Mes, 4-morpholineethanesulfonic acid; TMD, transmembrane domain; PLP, pyridoxal 5′-phosphate; PhSucc, phenylsuccinate
Acute megakaryocytic leukemia (AMkL) in Down syndrome (DS) children is uniformly associated with somatic GATA1 mutations, which result in the synthesis of a shorter protein (GATA1s) with altered transactivation activity compared to the wild-type GATA1. It is not fully established whether leukemogenesis and therapeutic responses in DS AMkL patients are due to loss of the wild-type GATA1 or due to a unique function of GATA1s.
Stable clones of CMK cells with decreased GATA1s or Bcl-2 levels were generated by using GATA1- or BCL-2-specific lentivirus shRNAs. In vitro ara-C, daunorubicin, and VP-16 cytotoxicities of the shRNA stable clones were determined by using the Cell Titer-blue reagent. Apoptosis and cell cycle distribution were determined by flow cytometry analysis. Changes in gene transcript levels were determined by gene expression microarray and/or real-time RT-PCR. Changes in protein levels were measured by Western blotting. In vivo binding of GATA1s to IL1A promoter was determined by chromatin immunoprecipitation assays.
Lentivirus shRNA knockdown of the GATA1 gene in the DS AMkL cell line, CMK (harbors a mutated GATA1 gene and only expresses GATA1s), resulting in lower GATA1s protein levels, promoted cell differentiation towards the megakaryocytic lineage and repressed cell proliferation. Increased basal apoptosis and sensitivities to ara-C, daunorubicin, and VP-16 accompanied by down-regulated Bcl-2 were also detected in the CMK GATA1 shRNA knockdown clones. Essentially the same results were obtained when Bcl-2 was knocked down with lentivirus shRNA in CMK cells. Besides Bcl-2, down-regulation of GATA1s also resulted in altered expression of genes (e.g., IL1A, PF4, and TUBB1) related to cell death, proliferation, and differentiation.
Our results suggest that GATA1s may facilitate leukemogenesis and potentially impact therapeutic responses in DS AMkL by promoting proliferation and survival, and by repressing megakaryocytic lineage differentiation, potentially by regulating expression of Bcl-2 protein and other relevant genes.