Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is initiated by the PML-RARA fusion oncogene and has a characteristic expression profile that includes high levels of the Notch ligand JAG1. In this study, we used a series of bioinformatic, in vitro, and in vivo assays to assess the role of Notch signaling in human APL samples, and in a PML-RARA knockin mouse model of APL (Ctsg-PML-RARA). We identified a Notch expression signature in both human primary APL cells and in Kit+Lin−Sca1+ (KLS) cells from pre-leukemic Ctsg-PML-RARA mice. Both genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of Notch signaling abrogated the enhanced self-renewal seen in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) from pre-leukemic Ctsg-PML-RARA mice, but had no influence on cells from age-matched wildtype mice. In addition, 6 of 9 murine APL tumors tested displayed diminished growth in vitro when Notch signaling was inhibited pharmacologically. Finally, we found that genetic inhibition of Notch signaling with a dominant negative MAML protein reduced APL growth in vivo in a subset of tumors. These findings expand the role of Notch signaling in hematopoietic diseases, and further define the mechanistic events important for PML-RARA-mediated leukemogenesis.
Notch; Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia; Self-renewal
The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) has used the latest sequencing and analysis methods to identify somatic variants across thousands of tumours. Here we present data and analytical results for point mutations and small insertions/deletions from 3,281 tumours across 12 tumour types as part of the TCGA Pan-Cancer effort. We illustrate the distributions of mutation frequencies, types and contexts across tumour types, and establish their links to tissues of origin, environmental/carcinogen influences, and DNA repair defects. Using the integrated data sets, we identified 127 significantly mutated genes from well-known(forexample, mitogen-activatedprotein kinase, phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase,Wnt/β-catenin and receptor tyrosine kinase signalling pathways, and cell cycle control) and emerging (for example, histone, histone modification, splicing, metabolism and proteolysis) cellular processes in cancer. The average number of mutations in these significantly mutated genes varies across tumour types; most tumours have two to six, indicating that the numberof driver mutations required during oncogenesis is relatively small. Mutations in transcriptional factors/regulators show tissue specificity, whereas histone modifiers are often mutated across several cancer types. Clinical association analysis identifies genes having a significant effect on survival, and investigations of mutations with respect to clonal/subclonal architecture delineate their temporal orders during tumorigenesis. Taken together, these results lay the groundwork for developing new diagnostics and individualizing cancer treatment.
Most mutations in cancer genomes are thought to be acquired after the initiating event, which may cause genomic instability, driving clonal evolution. However, for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), normal karyotypes are common, and genomic instability is unusual. To better understand clonal evolution in AML, we sequenced the genomes of AML samples with a known initiating event (PML-RARA) vs. normal karyotype AML samples, and the exomes of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) from healthy people. Collectively, the data suggest that most of the mutations found in AML genomes are actually random events that occurred in HSPCs before they acquired the initiating mutation; the mutational history of that cell is “captured” as the clone expands. In many cases, only one or two additional, cooperating mutations are needed to generate the malignant founding clone. Cells from the founding clone can acquire additional cooperating mutations, yielding subclones that can contribute to disease progression and/or relapse.
Summary: Despite recent progress, computational tools that identify gene fusions from next-generation whole transcriptome sequencing data are often limited in accuracy and scalability. Here, we present a software package, BreakFusion that combines the strength of reference alignment followed by read-pair analysis and de novo assembly to achieve a good balance in sensitivity, specificity and computational efficiency.
Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online
Detection and characterization of genomic structural variation are important for understanding the landscape of genetic variation in human populations and in complex diseases such as cancer. Recent studies demonstrate the feasibility of detecting structural variation using next-generation, short-insert, paired-end sequencing reads. However, the utility of these reads is not entirely clear, nor are the analysis methods under which accurate detection can be achieved. The algorithm BreakDancer predicts a wide variety of structural variants including indels, inversions, and translocations. We examined BreakDancer's performance in simulation, comparison with other methods, analysis of an acute myeloid leukemia sample, and the 1,000 Genomes trio individuals. We found that it substantially improved the detection of small and intermediate size indels from 10 bp to 1 Mbp that are difficult to detect via a single conventional approach.
The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital–Washington University Pediatric Cancer Genome Project (PCGP) is participating in the international effort to identify somatic mutations that drive cancer. These cancer genome sequencing efforts will not only yield an unparalleled view of the altered signaling pathways in cancer but should also identify new targets against which novel therapeutics can be developed. Although these projects are still deep in the phase of generating primary DNA sequence data, important results are emerging and valuable community resources are being generated that should catalyze future cancer research. We describe here the rationale for conducting the PCGP, present some of the early results of this project and discuss the major lessons learned and how these will affect the application of genomic sequencing in the clinic.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is characterized by the t(15;17) translocation
that generates the fusion protein promyelocytic leukemia–retinoic acid
receptor α (PML-RARA) in nearly all cases. Multiple prior mouse models of
APL constitutively express PML-RARA from a variety of
non-Pml loci. Typically, all animals develop a myeloproliferative
disease, followed by leukemia in a subset of animals after a long latent period. In
contrast, human APL is not associated with an antecedent stage of myeloproliferation.
To address this discrepancy, we have generated a system whereby
PML-RARA expression is somatically acquired from the mouse
Pml locus in the context of Pml
haploinsufficiency. We found that physiologic PML-RARA expression
was sufficient to direct a hematopoietic progenitor self-renewal program in vitro and
in vivo. However, this expansion was not associated with evidence of
myeloproliferation, more accurately reflecting the clinical presentation of human
APL. Thus, at physiologic doses, PML-RARA primarily acts to increase
hematopoietic progenitor self-renewal, expanding a population of cells that are
susceptible to acquiring secondary mutations that cause progression to leukemia. This
mouse model provides a platform for more accurately dissecting the early events in
Motivation: The sequencing of tumors and their matched normals is frequently used to study the genetic composition of cancer. Despite this fact, there remains a dearth of available software tools designed to compare sequences in pairs of samples and identify sites that are likely to be unique to one sample.
Results: In this article, we describe the mathematical basis of our SomaticSniper software for comparing tumor and normal pairs. We estimate its sensitivity and precision, and present several common sources of error resulting in miscalls.
Availability and implementation: Binaries are freely available for download at http://gmt.genome.wustl.edu/somatic-sniper/current/, implemented in C and supported on Linux and Mac OS X.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Cytotoxic lymphocytes use the granule exocytosis pathway to kill pathogen-infected cells and tumor cells. Although many genes in this pathway have been extensively characterized (e.g., perforin, granzymes A and B), the role of granzyme C is less clear. We therefore developed a granzyme C-specific mAb and used flow cytometry to examine the expression of granzyme B and C in the lymphocyte compartments of wild-type and mutant GzmB−/− cre mice, which have a small deletion in the granzyme B gene. We detected granzyme B and C expression in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells activated with CD3/CD28 beads or MLRs. Stimulation of NK cells in vitro with IL-15 also induced expression of both granzymes. Granzyme C up-regulation was delayed relative to granzyme B in wild-type lymphocytes, whereas GzmB−/− cre cells expressed granzyme C earlier and more abundantly on a per-cell basis, suggesting that the deleted 350-bp region in the granzyme B gene is important for the regulation of both granzymes B and C. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed that granzyme C protein levels were regulated by mRNA abundance. In vivo, a population of wild-type CD8αα+ intraepithelial lymphocytes constitutively expressed granzyme B and GzmB−/− cre intraepithelial lymphocytes likewise expressed granzyme C. Using a model of a persistent murine CMV infection, we detected delayed expression of granzyme C in NK cells from infected hosts. Taken together, these findings suggest that granzyme C is activated with persistent antigenic stimulation, providing nonredundant backup protection for the host when granzyme B fails.
Most patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) die from progressive disease after relapse, which is associated with clonal evolution at the cytogenetic level1,2. To determine the mutational spectrum associated with relapse, we sequenced the primary tumor and relapse genomes from 8 AML patients, and validated hundreds of somatic mutations using deep sequencing; this allowed us to precisely define clonality and clonal evolution patterns at relapse. Besides discovering novel, recurrently mutated genes (e.g. WAC, SMC3, DIS3, DDX41, and DAXX) in AML, we found two major clonal evolution patterns during AML relapse: 1) the founding clone in the primary tumor gained mutations and evolved into the relapse clone, or 2) a subclone of the founding clone survived initial therapy, gained additional mutations, and expanded at relapse. In all cases, chemotherapy failed to eradicate the founding clone. The comparison of relapse-specific vs. primary tumor mutations in all 8 cases revealed an increase in transversions, probably due to DNA damage caused by cytotoxic chemotherapy. These data demonstrate that AML relapse is associated with the addition of new mutations and clonal evolution, which is shaped in part by the chemotherapy that the patients receive to establish and maintain remissions.
The genetic alterations responsible for an adverse outcome in most patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are unknown.
Using massively parallel DNA sequencing, we identified a somatic mutation in DNMT3A, encoding a DNA methyltransferase, in the genome of cells from a patient with AML with a normal karyotype. We sequenced the exons of DNMT3A in 280 additional patients with de novo AML to define recurring mutations.
A total of 62 of 281 patients (22.1%) had mutations in DNMT3A that were predicted to affect translation. We identified 18 different missense mutations, the most common of which was predicted to affect amino acid R882 (in 37 patients). We also identified six frameshift, six nonsense, and three splice-site mutations and a 1.5-Mbp deletion encompassing DNMT3A. These mutations were highly enriched in the group of patients with an intermediate-risk cytogenetic profile (56 of 166 patients, or 33.7%) but were absent in all 79 patients with a favorable-risk cytogenetic profile (P<0.001 for both comparisons). The median overall survival among patients with DNMT3A mutations was significantly shorter than that among patients without such mutations (12.3 months vs. 41.1 months, P<0.001). DNMT3A mutations were associated with adverse outcomes among patients with an intermediate-risk cytogenetic profile or FLT3 mutations, regardless of age, and were independently associated with a poor outcome in Cox proportional-hazards analysis.
DNMT3A mutations are highly recurrent in patients with de novo AML with an intermediate-risk cytogenetic profile and are independently associated with a poor outcome. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)
To define the factors that modulate regulatory T (Treg) cells in the tumor setting, we co-cultured various tumor cells with either purified Treg cells, or with unfractionated splenocytes. We found that Treg expansion occurred only with unfractionated splenocytes, suggesting that accessory cells and/or factors produced by them play an essential role in tumor-induced Treg expansion. We performed gene expression profiling on tumor-associated Treg cells to identify candidate signaling molecules and studied their effects on tumor-induced Treg expansion. We inadvertently discovered that IL-12 treatment blocked Treg expansion in an IL-12 receptor-dependent fashion. Additional studies showed that IL-12 acts by stimulating Interferon-gamma mediated inhibition of Treg cell proliferation, which may partially account for the anti-tumor effects of IL-12. Furthermore, IL-12 treatment was found to decrease IL-2 production, which may lead to interferon-gamma independent inhibition of Treg cells, as IL-2 is required for their survival and expansion. Mechanistic studies revealed that Interferon-gamma signaling directly causes cell cycle arrest in Treg cells. This study demonstrates that an IL-12-Interferon-gamma axis can suppress tumor-induced Treg proliferation. This mechanism may counteract the ability of Treg cells to promote tumor growth in vivo.
Regulatory T cells; Cytokine; Interleukin 12; Interferon-gamma; Tumor clearance
The t(8;21)(q22;q22) translocation, present in ~5% of adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cases, produces the AML1/ETO fusion protein. Dysregulation of the POU domain-containing transcription factor POU4F1 is a recurring abnormality in t(8;21) AML. Here, we show that POU4F1 over-expression is highly correlated with, but not caused by AML1/ETO. AML1/ETO markedly increases the self-renewal capacity of myeloid progenitors from murine bone marrow or fetal liver and drives expansion of these cells in liquid culture. POU4F1 is neither necessary nor sufficient for these AML1/ETO-dependent properties, suggesting that it contributes to leukemia through novel mechanisms. To identify targets of POU4F1, we performed gene expression profiling in primary mouse cells with genetically defined levels of POU4F1 and identified 140 differentially expressed genes. This expression signature was significantly enriched in human t(8;21) AML samples and was sufficient to cluster t(8;21) AML samples in an unsupervised hierarchical analysis. Among the most highly differentially expressed genes, half are known AML1/ETO targets, implying that the unique transcriptional signature of t(8;21) AML is, in part, attributable to POU4F1 and not AML1/ETO itself. These genes provide novel candidates for understanding the biology and developing therapeutic approaches for t(8;21) AML.
POU4F1; AML1/ETO; acute myeloid leukemia; gene expression profiling
The systematic karyotyping of bone marrow cells was the first genomic approach used to personalize therapy for patients with leukemia. The paradigm established by cytogenetic studies in leukemia (from gene discovery to therapeutic intervention) now has the potential to be rapidly extended with the use of whole-genome sequencing approaches for cancer, which are now possible. We are now entering a period of exponential growth in cancer gene discovery that will provide many novel therapeutic targets for a large number of cancer types. Establishing the pathogenetic relevance of individual mutations is a major challenge that must be solved. However, after thousands of cancer genomes have been sequenced, the genetic rules of cancer will become known and new approaches for diagnosis, risk stratification and individualized treatment of cancer patients will surely follow.
array CGH; cancer; comparative genomic hybridization; genomics; next-generation sequencing; SNP array
Antiapoptotic BCL2 family members have been implicated in the pathogenesis of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), but the functional significance and relative importance of individual proteins (e.g., BCL2, BCL-XL, and myeloid cell leukemia 1 [MCL1]) remain poorly understood. Here, we examined the expression of BCL2, BCL-XL, and MCL1 in primary human hematopoietic subsets and leukemic blasts from AML patients and found that MCL1 transcripts were consistently expressed at high levels in all samples tested. Consistent with this, Mcl1 protein was also highly expressed in myeloid leukemic blasts in a mouse Myc-induced model of AML. We used this model to test the hypothesis that Mcl1 facilitates AML development by allowing myeloid progenitor cells to evade Myc-induced cell death. Indeed, activation of Myc for 7 days in vivo substantially increased myeloid lineage cell numbers, whereas hematopoietic stem, progenitor, and B-lineage cells were depleted. Furthermore, Mcl1 haploinsufficiency abrogated AML development. In addition, deletion of a single allele of Mcl1 from fully transformed AML cells substantially prolonged the survival of transplanted mice. Conversely, the rapid lethality of disease was restored by coexpression of Bcl2 and Myc in Mcl1-haploinsufficient cells. Together, these data demonstrate a critical and dose-dependent role for Mcl1 in AML pathogenesis in mice and suggest that MCL1 may be a promising therapeutic target in patients with de novo AML.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is characterized by the t(15;17) chromosomal translocation, which results in fusion of the retinoic acid receptor α (RARA) gene to another gene, most commonly promyelocytic leukemia (PML). The resulting fusion protein, PML-RARA, initiates APL, which is a subtype (M3) of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In this report, we identify a gene expression signature that is specific to M3 samples; it was not found in other AML subtypes and did not simply represent the normal gene expression pattern of primary promyelocytes. To validate this signature for a large number of genes, we tested a recently developed high throughput digital technology (NanoString nCounter). Nearly all of the genes tested demonstrated highly significant concordance with our microarray data (P < 0.05). The validated gene signature reliably identified M3 samples in 2 other AML datasets, and the validated genes were substantially enriched in our mouse model of APL, but not in a cell line that inducibly expressed PML-RARA. These results demonstrate that nCounter is a highly reproducible, customizable system for mRNA quantification using limited amounts of clinical material, which provides a valuable tool for biomarker measurement in low-abundance patient samples.
Acute myeloid leukemia is a highly malignant hematopoietic tumor that affects about 13,000 adults yearly in the United States. The treatment of this disease has changed little in the past two decades, since most of the genetic events that initiate the disease remain undiscovered. Whole genome sequencing is now possible at a reasonable cost and timeframe to utilize this approach for unbiased discovery of tumor-specific somatic mutations that alter the protein-coding genes. Here we show the results obtained by sequencing a typical acute myeloid leukemia genome and its matched normal counterpart, obtained from the patient’s skin. We discovered 10 genes with acquired mutations; two were previously described mutations thought to contribute to tumor progression, and 8 were novel mutations present in virtually all tumor cells at presentation and relapse, whose function is not yet known. Our study establishes whole genome sequencing as an unbiased method for discovering initiating mutations in cancer genomes, and for identifying novel genes that may respond to targeted therapies.
We used massively parallel sequencing technology to sequence the genomic DNA of tumor and normal skin cells obtained from a patient with a typical presentation of FAB M1 Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) with normal cytogenetics. 32.7-fold ‘haploid’ coverage (98 billion bases) was obtained for the tumor genome, and 13.9-fold coverage (41.8 billion bases) was obtained for the normal sample. Of 2,647,695 well-supported Single Nucleotide Variants (SNVs) found in the tumor genome, 2,588,486 (97.7%) also were detected in the patient’s skin genome, limiting the number of variants that required further study. For the purposes of this initial study, we restricted our downstream analysis to the coding sequences of annotated genes: we found only eight heterozygous, non-synonymous somatic SNVs in the entire genome. All were novel, including mutations in protocadherin/cadherin family members (CDH24 and PCLKC), G-protein coupled receptors (GPR123 and EBI2), a protein phosphatase (PTPRT), a potential guanine nucleotide exchange factor (KNDC1), a peptide/drug transporter (SLC15A1), and a glutamate receptor gene (GRINL1B). We also detected previously described, recurrent somatic insertions in the FLT3 and NPM1 genes. Based on deep readcount data, we determined that all of these mutations (except FLT3) were present in nearly all tumor cells at presentation, and again at relapse 11 months later, suggesting that the patient had a single dominant clone containing all of the mutations. These results demonstrate the power of whole genome sequencing to discover novel cancer-associated mutations.
Copy number variants (CNVs) are currently defined as genomic sequences that are polymorphic in copy number and range in length from 1000 to several million base pairs. Among current array-based CNV detection platforms, long-oligonucleotide arrays promise the highest resolution. However, the performance of currently available analytical tools suffers when applied to these data because of the lower signal:noise ratio inherent in oligonucleotide-based hybridization assays. We have developed wuHMM, an algorithm for mapping CNVs from array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) platforms comprised of 385 000 to more than 3 million probes. wuHMM is unique in that it can utilize sequence divergence information to reduce the false positive rate (FPR). We apply wuHMM to 385K-aCGH, 2.1M-aCGH and 3.1M-aCGH experiments comparing the 129X1/SvJ and C57BL/6J inbred mouse genomes. We assess wuHMM's performance on the 385K platform by comparison to the higher resolution platforms and we independently validate 10 CNVs. The method requires no training data and is robust with respect to changes in algorithm parameters. At a FPR of <10%, the algorithm can detect CNVs with five probes on the 385K platform and three on the 2.1M and 3.1M platforms, resulting in effective resolutions of 24 kb, 2–5 kb and 1 kb, respectively.
A dissection of the genetic networks and circuitries is described for two form of leukaemia. Integrating transcription factor binding and gene expression profiling, networks are revealed that underly this important human disease.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) comprises a group of diseases characterized by the abnormal development of malignant myeloid cells. Recent studies have demonstrated an important role for aberrant transcriptional regulation in AML pathophysiology. Although several transcription factors (TFs) involved in myeloid development and leukemia have been studied extensively and independently, how these TFs coordinate with others and how their dysregulation perturbs the genetic circuitry underlying myeloid differentiation is not yet known. We propose an integrated approach for mammalian genetic network construction by combining the analysis of gene expression profiling data and the identification of TF binding sites.
We utilized our approach to construct the genetic circuitries operating in normal myeloid differentiation versus acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a subtype of AML. In the normal and disease networks, we found that multiple transcriptional regulatory cascades converge on the TFs Rora and Rxra, respectively. Furthermore, the TFs dysregulated in APL participate in a common regulatory pathway and may perturb the normal network through Fos. Finally, a model of APL pathogenesis is proposed in which the chimeric TF PML-RARα activates the dysregulation in APL through six mediator TFs.
This report demonstrates the utility of our approach to construct mammalian genetic networks, and to obtain new insights regarding regulatory circuitries operating in complex diseases in humans.
To define the mutation spectrum in non-Down syndrome acute megkaryoblastic leukemia (non-DS-AMKL), we performed transcriptome sequencing on diagnostic blasts from 14 pediatric patients and validated our findings in a recurrency/validation cohort consisting of 34 pediatric and 28 adult AMKL leukemia samples. Our analysis identified a cryptic chromosome 16 inversion [inv(16)(p13.3q24.3)] in 27% of pediatric cases, which encodes a CBFA2T3-GLIS2 fusion protein. Expression of CBFA2T3-GLIS2 in Drosophila and murine hematopoietic cells induced bone morphogenic protein (BMP) signaling, and resulted in a marked increase in the self-renewal capacity of hematopoietic progenitors. These data suggest that expression of CBFA2T3-GLIS2 directly contributes to leukemogenesis.
Three cold shock domain (CSD) family members (YB-1, MSY2, and MSY4) exist in vertebrate species ranging from frogs to humans. YB-1 is expressed throughout embryogenesis and is ubiquitously expressed in adult animals; it protects cells from senescence during periods of proliferative stress. YB-1-deficient embryos die unexpectedly late in embryogenesis (embryonic day 18.5 [E18.5] to postnatal day 1) with a runting phenotype. We have now determined that MSY4, but not MSY2, is also expressed during embryogenesis; its abundance declines substantially from E9.5 to E17.5 and is undetectable on postnatal day 1(adult mice express MSY4 in testes only). Whole-mount analysis revealed similar patterns of YB-1 and MSY4 RNA expression in E11.5 embryos. To determine whether MSY4 delays the death of YB-1-deficient embryos, we created and analyzed MSY4-deficient mice and then generated YB-1 and MSY4 double-knockout embryos. MSY4 is dispensable for normal development and survival, but the testes of adult mice have excessive spermatocyte apoptosis and seminiferous tubule degeneration. Embryos doubly deficient for YB-1 and MSY4 are severely runted and die much earlier (E8.5 to E11.5) than YB-1-deficient embryos, suggesting that MSY4 indeed shares critical cellular functions with YB-1 in the embryonic tissues where they are coexpressed.
Proteins containing “cold shock” domains belong to the most evolutionarily conserved family of nucleic acid-binding proteins known among bacteria, plants, and animals. One of these proteins, YB-1, is widely expressed throughout development and has been implicated as a cell survival factor that regulates the transcription and/or translation of many cellular growth and death-related genes. For these reasons, YB-1 deficiency has been predicted to be incompatible with cell survival. However, the majority of YB-1−/− embryos develop normally up to embryonic day 13.5 (E13.5). After E13.5, YB-1−/− embryos exhibit severe growth retardation and progressive mortality, revealing a nonredundant role of YB-1 in late embryonic development. Fibroblasts derived from YB-1−/− embryos displayed a normal rate of protein synthesis and minimal alterations in the transcriptome and proteome but demonstrated reduced abilities to respond to oxidative, genotoxic, and oncogene-induced stresses. YB-1−/− cells under oxidative stress expressed high levels of the G1-specific CDK inhibitors p16Ink4a and p21Cip1 and senesced prematurely; this defect was corrected by knocking down CDK inhibitor levels with specific small interfering RNAs. These data suggest that YB-1 normally represses the transcription of CDK inhibitors, making it an important component of the cellular stress response signaling pathway.
Expression of the PML-retinoic acid receptor α (PML-RARα) fusion protein is the initiating genetic event for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), but the molecular mechanisms responsible for disease initiation are not yet clear. Several observations have suggested that early myeloid cells are uniquely susceptible to transformation by PML-RARα. Recently, we have shown that the early myeloid-specific protease neutrophil elastase is important for APL development in the mouse. To better understand the role of neutrophil elastase for the pathogenesis of APL, we examined the consequences of PML-RARα expression in early myeloid cells with or without neutrophil elastase. We found that high-level PML-RARα expression was associated with cellular toxicity that was dependent on the expression of neutrophil elastase; a mutant form of PML-RARα that resisted neutrophil elastase cleavage was not toxic. When PML-RARα was expressed at very low levels in the early myeloid cells of mice, it induced myeloid expansion and delayed myeloid maturation; neutrophil elastase was also required for these activities. The activities of PML-RARα in early myeloid cells are therefore strongly influenced by the presence of neutrophil elastase. To assure physiologic relevance, PML-RARα functions should be evaluated in neutrophil elastase-expressing early myeloid cells.
Leukemia results from the expansion of self-renewing hematopoietic cells that are thought to contain mutations that contribute to disease initiation and progression. Studies of the gene expression profiles of human acute myeloid leukemia samples has allowed their classification based on the presence of translocations and French-American-British subtypes, but it is not yet clear whether their molecular signatures reflect the initiating mutations or mutations acquired during progression. To begin to address this question, we examined the expression profiles of normal murine promyelocyte-enriched samples, nontransformed murine promyelocytes expressing human promyelocytic leukemia-retinoic acid receptor alpha (PML-RARα) fusion gene, and primary acute promyelocytic leukemia cells. The expression profile of nontransformed cells expressing PML-RARα was remarkably similar to that of wild-type promyelocytes. In contrast, the expression profiles of fully transformed cells from three acute promyelocytic leukemia model systems were all different, suggesting that the expression signature of acute promyelocytic leukemia cells reflects the genetic changes that contributed to progression. To further evaluate these progression events, we compared two high-penetrance acute promyelocytic leukemia models that both commonly acquire an interstitial deletion of chromosome 2 during progression. The two models exhibited distinct gene expression profiles, suggesting that the dominant molecular signatures of murine acute promyelocytic leukemia can be influenced by several independent progression events.
Gammaherpesviruses can establish lifelong latent infections in lymphoid cells of their hosts despite active antiviral immunity. Identification of the immune mechanisms which regulate gammaherpesvirus latent infection is therefore essential for understanding how gammaherpesviruses persist for the lifetime of their host. Recently, an individual with chronic active Epstein-Barr virus infection was found to have mutations in perforin, and studies using murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (γHV68) as a small-animal model for gammaherpesvirus infection have similarly revealed a critical role for perforin in regulating latent infection. These results suggest involvement of the perforin/granzyme granule exocytosis pathway in immune regulation of gammaherpesvirus latent infection. In this study, we examined γHV68 infection of knockout mice to identify specific molecules within the perforin/granzyme pathway which are essential for regulating gammaherpesvirus latent infection. We show that granzymes A and B and the granzyme B substrate, caspase 3, are important for regulating γHV68 latent infection. Interestingly, we show for the first time that orphan granzymes encoded in the granzyme B gene cluster are also critical for regulating viral infection. The requirement for specific granzymes differs for early versus late forms of latent infection. These data indicate that different granzymes play important and distinct roles in regulating latent gammaherpesvirus infection.