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1.  Kit Inhibitor APcK110 Induces Apoptosis and Inhibits Proliferation of Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells 
Cancer research  2009;69(9):3910-3917.
Kit is a membrane-bound tyrosine kinase and receptor for stem cell factor (SCF) with a crucial role in hematopoiesis. Mutations of KIT occur in almost half of patients with core-binding factor leukemias where they have been associated with worse outcome. Development of new compounds targeting Kit may therefore hold promise for therapy. We investigated the activity and mechanism of action of APcK110, a novel Kit inhibitor, in the mastocytosis cell line HMC1.2 (KITV560G and KITD816V), AML lines OCIM2 and OCI/AML3 (both wild-type) and primary samples from patients with AML. We demonstrate that: (1) APcK110 inhibits proliferation of the mastocytosis cell line HMC1.2 and the SCF-responsive cell line OCI/AML3 in a dose dependent manner; (2) APcK110 is a more potent inhibitor of OCI/AML3 proliferation than the clinically used Kit inhibitors imatinib and dasatinib and at least as potent as cytarabine; (3) APcK110 inhibits the phosphorylation of Kit, Stat 3, Stat5, and Akt, in a dose-dependent fashion demonstrating activity of APcK110 on Kit and its downstream signaling pathways; (4) APcK110 induces apoptosis by cleavage of caspase 3 and PARP; (5) APcK110 inhibits proliferation of primary AML blasts in a clonogenic assay, but does not affect proliferation of normal colony-forming cells. Although APcK110 activity may partly depend on cytokine responsiveness (e.g. SCF) and not exclusively KIT mutation status, it remains a potent inhibitor of AML and mastocytosis cell lines and primary AML samples. APcK110 and similar compounds should be evaluated in clinical trials of patients with AML.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-0034
PMCID: PMC4220548  PMID: 19383925
Acute myeloid leukemia; c-Kit; targeted therapy; APcK110
2.  Soluble syndecan-1 (sCD138) as a prognostic factor independent of IgVH mutation status in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
Syndecan-1 (sCD138) is a transmembrane heparin sulfate-bearing proteoglycan expressed in epithelial cells as well as hematopoietic cells that demonstrate plasmacytoid differentiation. Higher levels of sCD138 correlate with poor outcome in myeloma. We examined the association of circulating sCD138 levels in plasma with clinical behavior in 104 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). sCD138 levels were significantly higher in patients (median, 52.8 ng/mL; range, 13.4–252.7 ng/mL) than in healthy control subjects (median, 19.86; range, 14.49–33.14 ng/mL) (P <0.01). Elevated sCD138 (> median, 52.8 ng/mL) was associated with significantly shorter survival (P = 0.0004); this association was independent of IgVH mutation status, β2-microglobulin (β2-M) level, and treatment history. Patients with mutated IgVH but high sCD138 levels (>52.8 ng/mL) had significantly shorter survival than those with mutated IgVH and lower levels of sCD138. Similarly, patients with unmutated IgVH but high sCD138 levels had significantly shorter survival than those with lower sCD138 levels and unmutated IgVH (P = 0.007). In a multivariate Cox regression model, only Rai stage, β2-M, and sCD138 remained predictors of survival. These data suggest that sCD138 when combined with β2-M and Rai stage, may replace the need for testing IgVH mutation status.
doi:10.1111/j.1751-553X.2007.01010.x
PMCID: PMC4163781  PMID: 18190591
3.  Circulating heat shock protein 70 and progression in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia 
Leukemia research  2008;33(2):212-217.
We evaluated the association of circulating levels of heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70) in plasma with clinical behavior and progression in 139 chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients. Circulating Hsp70 levels did not differ significantly between CML patients in the chronic phase (n = 93; median 33.24 ng/mL, range 3.89–128.2 ng/mL) and those in the accelerated/blast phase (n = 46; median 26.57 ng/mL, range 4.5–114.7 ng/mL). However, overall CML patients had significantly higher levels of Hsp70 than healthy subjects (n = 95, median 4.17 ng/mL, range 1.75–24.7 ng/mL) (P < 0.001). In chronic phase CML patients, Hsp70 levels above the median were associated with a higher rate of progression to the accelerated/blast phase and a tendency toward shorter survival. Plasma Hsp70 thus could be a potential marker for predicting disease progression in patients with chronic phase CML.
doi:10.1016/j.leukres.2008.07.012
PMCID: PMC4163801  PMID: 18715642
Circulating heat shock protein; Chronic myeloid leukemia; Imatinib resistance
4.  Circulating Ki-67 protein in plasma as a biomarker and prognostic indicator of acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Leukemia research  2009;34(2):173-176.
Tissue-based determination of Ki-67, a marker of cellular proliferation, has shown prognostic value in solid tumors and hematological malignancies. We developed and validated an electrochemiluminescence-based method for sensitive measurement of circulating Ki-67 in plasma (cKi-67). This assay demonstrated significantly higher levels of cKi-67 in patients with newly diagnosed acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) (n=27; median, 762; range, 0-4574 U/100 μL) than in healthy control subjects (n=114; median, 399; range, 36-2830 U/100 μL). Moreover, elevated plasma cKi-67 was associated with significantly shorter survival in ALL patients (P=0.05). These findings suggest that Ki-67 can be detected in circulation and has potential for use as a biomarker for predicting clinical behavior in ALL.
doi:10.1016/j.leukres.2009.07.030
PMCID: PMC4132892  PMID: 19679351
Acute lymphoblast leukemia; circulating KI-67; Plasma
5.  Clinical Correlation of Circulating Heat Shock Protein 70 in Acute Leukemia 
Leukemia research  2009;34(5):605-609.
The heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) is one of the molecular chaperone family involved in the protection of cells upon exposure to various types of stresses. Plasma circulating HSP70 (cHSP70) is believed to play a role in the anti-tumor immune responses and its levels may reflect the levels of severity or the disease condition. Using electrochemiluminescence protein detection immunoassay, we measured the cHSP70 levels in the plasma of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) (n=96), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) (n=28), and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) (n=40) and compared with those in normal individuals (n=99). cHSP70 levels were significantly higher in AML (median: 10.71 ng/mL, range: 1.93-79.0 ng/mL) and ALL (median: 27.59 ng/mL, range: 5.09-129.6 ng/mL) as compared to those in MDS (median: 4.54 ng/mL, range: 1.35-58.3 ng/mL) or healthy controls (median: 4.13 ng/mL, range: 1.75-13.6 ng/mL). Levels of cHSP70 showed significant positive correlation with lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and white blood cells (WBC) in AML and ALL patients, which may reflect overall tumor load. Furthermore, patients with higher levels of cHSP70 had significantly shorter survival in AML (P=0.04) and ALL (P=0.05), suggesting that in these two acute diseases, cHSP70 is an indicator for poor prognosis. Our data support the potential of using free cHSP70 as a biomarker in leukemias and potentially other types of cancers.
doi:10.1016/j.leukres.2009.09.014
PMCID: PMC4127889  PMID: 19800118
circulating heat shock protein; acute leukemia; survival
6.  Circulating Ki-67 Index in Plasma as a Biomarker and Prognostic Indicator in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia 
Leukemia research  2010;34(10):1320-1324.
Ki-67 is a nuclear antigen that is expressed in all stages of the cell cycle, except G0, and is widely used as a marker of cellular proliferation in human tumors. We recently showed that elevated levels of Ki-67 circulating in plasma (cKi-67) are associated with shorter survival in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The study included 194 patients with CLL and 96 healthy control subjects. cKi-67 levels in plasma were determined using an electrochemiluminescent immunoassay. We normalized the cKi-67 level to the absolute number of lymphocytes in the patient's peripheral blood to establish the plasma cKI-67 index. The cKi-67 index showed significant correlation with lymph node involvement and Rai stage (P = 0.05). Higher cKi-67 index values were significantly associated with shorter survival. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis demonstrated that the association of the cKi-67 index with shorter survival was independent of IgVH mutation status. In a multivariate model incorporating the cKi-67 index with B2M and IgVH, only cKi-67 index and B2M levels remained as independent predictors of survival. The results of this study suggest that the plasma cKi-67 index, along with B2M level, is a strong predictor of clinical behavior in CLL
doi:10.1016/j.leukres.2010.03.010
PMCID: PMC4108997  PMID: 20362333
cKi-67 Index; Plasma; Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
7.  Proteasome Enzymatic Activities in Plasma as Risk Stratification of Patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Advanced Myelodysplastic Syndrome 
Purpose
Cytogenetic abnormalities are currently the most important predictors of response and clinical outcome for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or advanced-stage myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Because clinical outcomes vary markedly within cytogenetic subgroups, additional biological markers are needed for risk stratification.
Experimental Design
We assessed the utility of measuring pretreatment proteasome chymotrypsin-like (Ch-L), caspase-like (Cas-L), and trypsin-like (Tr-L) activities in plasma to predict response and survival of patients with AML (n=174) or advanced-stage MDS (n=52).
RESULTS
All three enzymatic activities were significantly (P<0.001) increased in the plasma of patients with AML and MDS as compared with normal controls. Both Ch-L and Cas-L activities, but not Tr-L activity correlated with outcome. Ch-L and Cas-L activities, but not Tr-L activity predicted response in univariate analysis (P = 0.002). However, only Ch-L activity was independent predictor of response from age grouping (< vs ≥70 years), cytogenetics, and BUN in multivariate analysis. Similarly, both Ch-L and Cas-L activities, but not Tr-L activity were predictors of overall survival in univariate analysis (P <0.0001), but only Ch-L activity was independent of cytogenetics, age, performance status, BUN, and beta-2 microglobulin in multivariate Cox regression models. Ch-L activity was also a strong independent predictor of survival in patients with intermediate karyotype (n=124).
CONCLUSIONS
Measuring plasma chymotrypsin-like activity may provide a powerful biomarker for risk stratification in patients with AML and advanced-stage MDS, including those with normal karyotype.
doi:10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-3034
PMCID: PMC4091712  PMID: 19458051
acute myeloid leukemia; myelodysplastic syndrome; proteasome, chymotrypsin-like activity; survival; response; nomogram
8.  Ubiquitin-Proteasome System Profiling in Acute Leukemias and its Clinical Relevance 
Leukemia research  2010;35(4):526-533.
The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) plays a major role in the homeostasis of cellular protein. We demonstrate that each of the major hematologic diseases (AML, ALL, and MDS) has a specific and different plasma profile of UPS protein and enzymatic activities. While high levels of proteasome and ubiquitin proteins and enzymatic activities are detected in the plasma samples from patients, normalizing enzymatic activities, show that each proteasome has lower enzymatic activities in these diseases as compared with normal controls. Proteasome protein levels in AML are strong predictor of survival independently of cytogenetics, performance status and age. The Ch-L activity when normalized to the level of proteasome protein show significant negative correlation with survival in ALL.
doi:10.1016/j.leukres.2010.09.009
PMCID: PMC4051750  PMID: 20951430
acute myeloid leukemia; acute lymphoblastic leukemia; myelodysplastic syndrome; proteasome, ubiquitin; chymotrypsin-like activity; survival; response
9.  Dysregulation of ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and apolipoprotein A metabolism in sickle cell disease–related pulmonary arterial hypertension 
Pulmonary Circulation  2013;3(4):851-855.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a major complication of sickle cell disease (SCD). Low levels of apolipoprotein A1 (Apo-A1) have been implicated in the development of PAH in SCD. We speculate that lower levels of Apo-A1 are related to dysregulation of the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway (UPP). Of 36 recruited patients with SCD, 14 were found to have PAH on the basis of right heart catheterization. Levels of Apo-A1 and Apo-B, polyubiquitin, total protease, and specific and normalized activity of chymotrypsin-like, trypsin-like, and caspase-like proteases in plasma were measured. Levels of Apo-A1 were found to be lower and polyubiquitin levels were found to be significantly higher in the PAH group () in SCD. Apo-A levels were inversely correlated with polyubiquitin levels (, ). These results indicate that lower levels of Apo-A1 in SCD patients with PAH are likely related to enhance degradation by UPP, potentially contributing to pulmonary vascular pathology. These findings may provide significant insight in identifying suitable therapeutic targets in these patients.
doi:10.1086/674763
PMCID: PMC4070832  PMID: 25006400
pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH); sickle cell disease (SCD); ubiquitin-proteasome pathway (UPP); apolipoprotein A (Apo-A)
10.  Tanespimycin with bortezomib: activity in relapsed/refractory patients with multiple myeloma 
British journal of haematology  2010;150(4):428-437.
Summary
Tanespimycin (17-allylamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin, 17-AAG) disrupts heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), a key molecular chaperone for signal transduction proteins critical to myeloma growth, survival and drug resistance. In previous studies, tanespimycin monotherapy was well tolerated and active in heavily pretreated patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma (MM). Preclinical data have shown antitumour synergy between tanespimycin and bortezomib, with more pronounced intracellular accumulation of ubiquitinated proteins than either drug alone, an effect attributed to the synergistic suppression of chymotryptic activity in the 20S proteasome. HSP70 induction has been observed in all Phase 1 tanespimycin studies in which it has been measured, with several separate reports of HSP70 overexpression protecting against peripheral nerve injury. In this Phase 2, open-label multicentre study, we compared 1·3 mg/m2 bortezomib + three doses of tanespimycin: 50, 175 and 340 mg/m2 in heavily pretreated patients with relapsed and refractory MM and measured HSP70 expression and proteasome activity levels in plasma of treated patients. The study was closed prematurely for resource-based reasons, precluding dose comparison. Nonetheless, antitumour activity was observed, with promising response rates and promising severity of peripheral neuropathy.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.2010.08264.x
PMCID: PMC3418598  PMID: 20618338
tanespimycin; bortezomib; HSP90; HSP70; peripheral neuropathy
11.  Effects of Clinically Relevant MPL Mutations in the Transmembrane Domain Revealed at the Atomic Level through Computational Modeling 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23396.
Background
Mutations in the thrombopoietin receptor (MPL) may activate relevant pathways and lead to chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). The mechanisms of MPL activation remain elusive because of a lack of experimental structures. Modern computational biology techniques were utilized to explore the mechanisms of MPL protein activation due to various mutations.
Results
Transmembrane (TM) domain predictions, homology modeling, ab initio protein structure prediction, and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were used to build structural dynamic models of wild-type and four clinically observed mutants of MPL. The simulation results suggest that S505 and W515 are important in keeping the TM domain in its correct position within the membrane. Mutations at either of these two positions cause movement of the TM domain, altering the conformation of the nearby intracellular domain in unexpected ways, and may cause the unwanted constitutive activation of MPL's kinase partner, JAK2.
Conclusions
Our findings represent the first full-scale molecular dynamics simulations of the wild-type and clinically observed mutants of the MPL protein, a critical element of the MPL-JAK2-STAT signaling pathway. In contrast to usual explanations for the activation mechanism that are based on the relative translational movement between rigid domains of MPL, our results suggest that mutations within the TM region could result in conformational changes including tilt and rotation (azimuthal) angles along the membrane axis. Such changes may significantly alter the conformation of the adjacent and intrinsically flexible intracellular domain. Hence, caution should be exercised when interpreting experimental evidence based on rigid models of cytokine receptors or similar systems.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023396
PMCID: PMC3157383  PMID: 21858098
12.  Tanespimycin monotherapy in relapsed multiple myeloma: results of a phase 1 dose-escalation study 
British journal of haematology  2010;150(4):438-445.
Summary
Tanespimycin, a heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) inhibitor, induces apoptosis in drug-sensitive and -resistant MM cell lines and in tumour cells from patients with relapsed MM. In this phase 1 dose-escalation study, the safety, plasma pharmacokinetics, and biological/antitumour activity of tanespimycin were evaluated in heavily pretreated patients with relapsed/refractory MM. Tanespimycin (150–525 mg/m2) was given on days 1, 4, 8, and 11 of each 3-week cycle for up to 8 cycles. Non-haematological AEs included diarrhoea (59%), back pain (35%), fatigue (38%), and nausea (35%); haematological AEs included anaemia (24%) and thrombocytopenia (21%). One patient (3%) achieved minimal response (MR), with a progression-free survival (PFS) of 3 months, a 41% decrease from baseline in urine M protein, and a 33% decrease from baseline in serum M protein. Fifteen patients (52%) achieved SD with a median PFS of 2·1 months; 5/15 had reductions in serum M protein ranging from 7% to 38% and in urine M protein ranging from 6% to 91%. Mean HSP70 levels increased from day 1 h 0 to day 1 h 4 with further increases on day 11 h 0 and day 11 h 4, consistent with a therapeutic treatment effect. Tanespimycin monotherapy was well tolerated and demonstrated activity across all doses tested.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2141.2010.08265.x
PMCID: PMC3126095  PMID: 20618337
Multiple myeloma; tanespimycin; HSP90; HSP70; 17-AAG
13.  Significant association between polymorphism of the erythropoietin gene promoter and myelodysplastic syndrome 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:163.
Background
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) may be induced by certain mutagenic environmental or chemotherapeutic toxins; however, the role of susceptibility genes remains unclear. The G/G genotype of the single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs1617640 in the erythropoietin (EPO) promoter has been shown to be associated with decreased EPO expression. We examined the association of rs1617640 genotype with MDS.
Methods
We genotyped the EPO rS1617640 SNP in 189 patients with MDS, 257 with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), 106 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, 97 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, 353 with chronic myeloid leukemia, and 95 healthy controls.
Results
The G/G genotype was significantly more common in MDS patients (47/187; 25.1%) than in controls (6/95; 6.3%) or in patients with other leukemias (101/813; 12.4%) (all P < 0.001). Individuals with the G/G genotype were more likely than those with other genotypes to have MDS (odd ratio = 4.98; 95% CI = 2.04-12.13). Clinical and follow up data were available for 112 MDS patients and 186 AML patients. There was no correlation between EPO promoter genotype and response to therapy or overall survival in MDS or AML. In the MDS group, the GG genotype was significantly associated with shorter complete remission duration, as compared with the TT genotype (P = 0.03). Time to neutrophils recovery after therapy was significantly longer in MDS patients with the G/G genotype (P = 0.02).
Conclusions
These findings suggest a strong association between the rs1617640 G/G genotype and MDS. Further studies are warranted to investigate the utility of screening for this marker in individuals exposed to environmental toxins or chemotherapy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-163
PMCID: PMC2992491  PMID: 21078205
14.  JAK2 Exon 14 Deletion in Patients with Chronic Myeloproliferative Neoplasms 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e12165.
Background
The JAK2 V617F mutation in exon 14 is the most common mutation in chronic myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs); deletion of the entire exon 14 is rarely detected. In our previous study of >10,000 samples from patients with suspected MPNs tested for JAK2 mutations by reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) with direct sequencing, complete deletion of exon 14 (Δexon14) constituted <1% of JAK2 mutations. This appears to be an alternative splicing mutation, not detectable with DNA-based testing.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated the possibility that MPN patients may express the JAK2 Δexon14 at low levels (<15% of total transcript) not routinely detectable by RT-PCR with direct sequencing. Using a sensitive RT-PCR–based fluorescent fragment analysis method to quantify JAK2 Δexon14 mRNA expression relative to wild-type, we tested 61 patients with confirmed MPNs, 183 with suspected MPNs (93 V617F-positive, 90 V617F-negative), and 46 healthy control subjects. The Δexon14 variant was detected in 9 of the 61 (15%) confirmed MPN patients, accounting for 3.96% to 33.85% (mean  = 12.04%) of total JAK2 transcript. This variant was also detected in 51 of the 183 patients with suspected MPNs (27%), including 20 of the 93 (22%) with V617F (mean [range] expression  = 5.41% [2.13%–26.22%]) and 31 of the 90 (34%) without V617F (mean [range] expression  = 3.88% [2.08%–12.22%]). Immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated that patients expressing Δexon14 mRNA expressed a corresponding truncated JAK2 protein. The Δexon14 variant was not detected in the 46 control subjects.
Conclusions/Significance
These data suggest that expression of the JAK2 Δexon14 splice variant, leading to a truncated JAK2 protein, is common in patients with MPNs. This alternatively spliced transcript appears to be more frequent in MPN patients without V617F mutation, in whom it might contribute to leukemogenesis. This mutation is missed if DNA rather than RNA is used for testing.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012165
PMCID: PMC2921382  PMID: 20730051
15.  Structural effects of clinically observed mutations in JAK2 exons 13-15: comparison with V617F and exon 12 mutations 
Background
The functional relevance of many of the recently detected JAK2 mutations, except V617F and exon 12 mutants, in patients with chronic myeloproliferative neoplasia (MPN) has been significantly overlooked. To explore atomic-level explanations of the possible mutational effects from those overlooked mutants, we performed a set of molecular dynamics simulations on clinically observed mutants, including newly discovered mutations (K539L, R564L, L579F, H587N, S591L, H606Q, V617I, V617F, C618R, L624P, whole exon 14-deletion) and control mutants (V617C, V617Y, K603Q/N667K).
Results
Simulation results are consistent with all currently available clinical/experimental evidence. The simulation-derived putative interface, not possibly obtained from static models, between the kinase (JH1) and pseudokinase (JH2) domains of JAK2 provides a platform able to explain the mutational effect for all mutants, including presumably benign control mutants, at the atomic level.
Conclusion
The results and analysis provide structural bases for mutational mechanisms of JAK2, may advance the understanding of JAK2 auto-regulation, and have the potential to lead to therapeutic approaches. Together with recent mutation profiling results demonstrating the breadth of clinically observed JAK2 mutations, our findings suggest that molecular testing/diagnostics of JAK2 should extend beyond V617F and exon 12 mutations, and perhaps should encompass most of the pseudo-kinase domain-coding region.
doi:10.1186/1472-6807-9-58
PMCID: PMC2749040  PMID: 19744331

Results 1-16 (16)