MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are evolutionary conserved small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression. Early studies have shown that miRNA expression is deregulated in cancer, and experimental data indicate that cancer phenotypes can be modified by targeting miRNA expression. Based on these observations, miRNA-based anticancer therapies are being developed either alone or in combination with current targeted therapies, with the goal to improve disease response and increase cure rate. The advantage of using miRNA approaches is based on the ability to concurrently target multiple effectors of pathways involved in cell differentiation, proliferation and survival. In this review, we describe the role of miRNAs in tumorigenesis, and critically discuss the rationale, strategies and challenges for therapeutic targeting of miRNAs in cancer.
Corticosteroids are widely used for the treatment of B-cell malignancies, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and acute lymphoblastic leukemia; however, this class of drug is associated with undesirable off-target effects. Herein, we developed novel milatuzumab-conjugated liposomes as a targeted dexamethasone carrier for therapeutic delivery in CD74+ B-cell malignancies and explored its effect against the disease.
The targeting efficiency of milatuzumab-targeted liposomes to CD74+ cells was evaluated in vitro. The effect of CD74-targeted liposomal dexamethasone was compared with free dexa-methasone in primary CLL cells and cell lines in vitro. The therapeutic efficacy of CD74-targeted liposomal dexamethasone was evaluated in a Raji-severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) xenograft model in vivo.
Milatuzumab-targeted liposomes promoted selective incorporation of carrier molecules into transformed CD74-positive B cells as compared with CD74-negative T-cells. The CD74-dexamethasone-targeted liposomes (CD74-IL-DEX) promoted and increased killing in CD74-positive tumor cells and primary CLL cells. Furthermore, the targeted drug liposomes showed enhanced therapeutic efficacy against a CD74-positive B-cell model as compared with free, or non-targeted, liposomal dexamethasone in SCID mice engrafted with Raji cells in vivo.
These studies provide evidence and support for a potential use of CD74-targeted liposomal dexamethasone as a new therapy for B-cell malignancies.
Acquired chromosome abnormalities in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are among the most valuable determinants of diagnosis and prognosis. In search of new recurrent balanced translocations we reviewed the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) cytogenetics database containing pretreatment and relapse karyotypes of 4,701 adults with AML and 565 with MDS who were treated on CALGB trials. We identified all cases with balanced structural rearrangements occurring as a sole abnormality or in addition to one other abnormality, excluded abnormalities known to be recurrent, and then reviewed the literature to determine whether any of what we considered unique, previously unknown abnormalities had been reported. As a result, we identified seven new recurrent balanced translocations in AML or MDS: t(7;11)(q22;p15.5), t(10;11)(q23;p15), t(2;12)(p13;p13), t(12;17)(p13;q12), t(2;3)(p21;p21), t(5;21)(q31;q22) and t(8;14)(q24.1;q32.2), and, additionally, t(10;12)(p11;q15), a new translocation in AML previously reported in a case of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Herein we report hematologic and clinical characteristics, and treatment outcomes of patients with these newly recognized recurrent translocations. We also report 52 unique balanced translocations, together with the clinical data of patients harboring them, that to our knowledge have not been previously published. We hope that once the awareness of their existence is increased, some of these translocations may become recognized as novel recurring abnormalities. Identification of additional cases with both the new recurrent and the unique balanced translocations will enable determination of their prognostic significance and help to provide insights into the mechanisms of disease pathogenesis in patients with these rare abnormalities.
To evaluate the prognostic significance of the international European LeukemiaNet (ELN) guidelines for reporting genetic alterations in acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Patients and Methods
We analyzed 1,550 adults with primary AML, treated on Cancer and Leukemia Group B first-line trials, who had pretreatment cytogenetics and, for cytogenetically normal patients, mutational status of NPM1, CEBPA, and FLT3 available. We compared complete remission (CR) rates, disease-free survival (DFS), and overall survival (OS) among patients classified into the four ELN genetic groups (favorable, intermediate-I, intermediate-II, adverse) separately for 818 younger (age < 60 years) and 732 older (age ≥ 60 years) patients.
The percentages of younger versus older patients in the favorable (41% v 20%; P < .001), intermediate-II (19% v 30%; P < .001), and adverse (22% v 31%; P < .001) genetic groups differed. The favorable group had the best and the adverse group the worst CR rates, DFS, and OS in both age groups. Both intermediate groups had significantly worse outcomes than the favorable but better than the adverse group. Intermediate-I and intermediate-II groups in older patients had similar outcomes, whereas the intermediate-II group in younger patients had better OS but not better CR rates or DFS than the intermediate-I group. The prognostic significance of ELN classification was confirmed by multivariable analyses. For each ELN group, older patients had worse outcomes than younger patients.
The ELN classification clearly separates the genetic groups by outcome, supporting its use for risk stratification in clinical trials. Because they have different proportions of genetic alterations and outcomes, younger and older patients should be reported separately when using the ELN classification.
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) subtypes that result from oncogenic activation of homeobox (HOX) transcription factors are associated with poor prognosis. The HOXA9 transcription activator and growth factor independent 1 (GFI1) transcriptional repressor compete for occupancy at DNA-binding sites for the regulation of common target genes. We exploited this HOXA9 versus GFI1 antagonism to identify the genes encoding microRNA-21 and microRNA-196b as transcriptional targets of HOX-based leukemia oncoproteins. Therapeutic inhibition of microRNA-21 and microRNA-196b inhibited in vitro leukemic colony forming activity and depleted in vivo leukemia-initiating cell activity of HOX-based leukemias, which led to leukemia-free survival in a murine AML model and delayed disease onset in xenograft models. These data establish microRNA as functional effectors of endogenous HOXA9 and HOX-based leukemia oncoproteins, provide a concise in vivo platform to test RNA therapeutics, and suggest therapeutic value for microRNA antagonists in AML.
This phase I study was conducted to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and dose limiting toxicities (DLT) of the heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) inhibitor 17-allyamino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AAG) in combination with bortezomib, and to provide pharmacokinetic data in relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Eleven patients were enrolled. The MTD was 17-AAG 150mg/m2 and bortezomib 0.7mg/m2. Hepatic toxicity and cardiac toxicity were dose limiting. Co-administration on day 4 led to a decrease in clearance (p=0.005) and increase in AUC (p=.032) of 17-amino-17-demethoxygeldanamycin (17-AG) not observed when 17-AAG was administered alone. Pharmacokinetic parameters of patients who developed toxicities and those who did not were not different. The combination of 17-AAG and bortezomib led to toxicity without measurable response in patients with relapsed or refractory AML. Pharmacokinetic data provide insight for studies of related agents in AML; next generation HSP90 inhibitors are appealing for further development in this area.
Relapsed AML; bortezomib; 17-AAG; heat shock protein inhibition
Decitabine (DAC) is used for treatment of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Following cellular uptake, DAC is activated to DAC-triphosphate (TP) and incorporated into DNA. Once incorporated into the DNA, DAC-TP binds and inactivates DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs), thereby leading to hypomethylation and re-expression of epigenetically silenced tumor suppressor genes and ultimately antileukemia activity. However, direct evidence of in vivo DAC-TP occurrence in DAC-treated patients has been difficult to demonstrate due to a lack of suitable validated analytical methodology. Thus, we developed and validated a nonradioactive sensitive and specific LC-MS/MS assay for quantification of DAC-TP. The assay is linear from 50 to 1,000 nM and from 1 to 10 μM and has a lower limit of quantitation of 50 nM and a coefficient of variation for both within- and between-day precision <20%. Following DAC treatment, we detected DAC-TP in parental and DAC-resistant AML cells (in vitro) and bone marrow (BM) and spleen of normal and leukemic mice (in vivo). Downregulation of DNMTs and correlation of DAC-TP concentration with proteins involved in mechanisms of DAC resistance were also demonstrated. The clinical applicability of this method was proven by measuring DAC-TP level in BM and blood mononuclear cells from DAC-treated AML patients. Higher levels are seemingly associated with clinical response. Monitoring the DAC-TP intracellular level may serve as a novel pharmacological endpoint for designing more effective DAC-based regimens.
acute myeloid leukemia; decitabine; metabolite; quantification method; triphosphate
The regulatory protein nucleolin controls the expression of a subset of miRNAs involved in breast cancer progression and can be targeted to inhibit breast cancer growth in vivo.
Numerous studies have described the altered expression and the causal role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in human cancer. However, to date, efforts to modulate miRNA levels for therapeutic purposes have been challenging to implement. Here we find that nucleolin (NCL), a major nucleolar protein, posttranscriptionally regulates the expression of a specific subset of miRNAs, including miR-21, miR-221, miR-222, and miR-103, that are causally involved in breast cancer initiation, progression, and drug resistance. We also show that NCL is commonly overexpressed in human breast tumors and that its expression correlates with that of NCL-dependent miRNAs. Finally, inhibition of NCL using guanosine-rich aptamers reduces the levels of NCL-dependent miRNAs and their target genes, thus reducing breast cancer cell aggressiveness both in vitro and in vivo. These findings illuminate a path to novel therapeutic approaches based on NCL-targeting aptamers for the modulation of miRNA expression in the treatment of breast cancer.
We compared the outcomes of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients aged 60–70 years receiving reduced-intensity allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) in first remission (CR1) reported to the Center for International Blood and Marrow Research (CIBMTR) (N=94) with outcomes in patients treated with induction and post-remission chemotherapy on Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) protocols (N=96). All patients included had remained in CR1 for at least 4 months. HCT recipients were slightly younger than chemotherapy patients (median ages: 63 v 65 years; P<0.001), with no significant differences in the proportion with therapy-related leukemia or in different cytogenetic risk groups. Time from diagnosis to CR1 was longer for HCT recipients (median: 44 v 38 days; P=0.031). Allogeneic HCT was associated with significantly lower risk of relapse (32% v 81% at 3 years; P<0.001), higher non-relapse mortality (36% v 4% at 3 years; P<0.001), and longer leukemia-free survival (32% v 15% at 3 years; P=0.001). Although overall survival was longer for HCT recipients, this was not statistically significant (37% v 25% at 3 years; P=0.08). RIC allogeneic HCT in CR1 AML patients aged 60–70 years reduces relapse and improves leukemia-free survival. Strategies that reduce non-relapse mortality may yield significant improvements in overall survival.
acute myeloid leukemia; allogeneic; reduced-intensity transplantation
Transferrin (Tf) conjugated lipopolyplexes (LPs) carrying G3139, an antisense oligonucleotide for Bcl-2, were synthesized and evaluated in Tf receptor positive K562 erythroleukemia cells and then in a murine K562 xenograft model.
Materials and Methods
Particle size and Zeta potentials of transferrin conjugated lipopolyplexs containing G3139 (Tf-LP-G3139) were measured by Dynamic Light Scattering and ZetaPALS. In vitro and in vivo sample’s Bcl-2 downregulation was analyzed using Western blot and tumor tissue samples also exhibited by immunohistochemistry method. For athymic mice bearing with K562 xenograft tumors, tumor growth inhibition and survival rate were investigated. Nanoparticle distribution in 3-D cell cluster was observed by Laser scan confocal microscopy. IL-12 production in the plasma was measured by ELISA kit.
In vitro, Tf-LP-G3139 was more effective in inducing down regulation of Bcl-2 in K562 cells than non-targeted LP-G3139, free G3139 and mismatched control ODN-G4126 in the same formulation. In vivo Tf-LP-G3139 was less effective than free G3139 in Bcl-2 down regulation. 3-D cell cluster model diffusion results indeed indicated limited penetration of the LPs into the cell cluster. Finally, the therapeutic efficacies of Tf-LP-G3139 and free G3139 were determined in the K562 xenograft model. Tf-LP-G3139 showed slower plasma clearance, higher AUC, and greater accumulation in the tumor compared to free G3139. In addition, Tf-LP-G3139 was found to be more effective in tumor growth inhibition and prolonging mouse survival than free G3139. This was associated with increased spleen weight and IL-12 production in the plasma.
The role of the immune system in the therapeutic response obtained with the Tf-LPs is necessary and in vitro 3-D cell cluster model can be a potential tool to evaluate the nanoparticle distribution.
Bcl-2; leukemia; lipopolyplexs; targeted drug delivery; transferrin receptor
Disulfide-linked oligodeoxyribonucleotide (ODN) liposomes were formulated and evaluated for the delivery of antisense ODN G3139 in KB human oral carcinoma cells.
Materials and Methods
Liposomes composed of 1,2-di-(9Z-octadecenoyl)-3-trimethylammo-nium-propane (DOTAP)/egg phosphatidylcholine/α-tocopheryl polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate were incorporated with hydrophobized disulfide-linked ODN. Disulfide-linked ODN liposomes were characterized for their size, ODN intracellular delivery, Bcl-2 mRNA and protein expression, growth inhibition, and chemosensitization.
Intracellular delivery of ODN with disulfide-linked ODN liposomes was more efficient than that with non-liposomal hydrophobized disulfide-linked ODN. Treatment of the cells with disulfide-linked ODN liposomes resulted in efficient Bcl-2 down-regulation greater than that with hydrophobized disulfide-linked ODN and consistent with that of cellular growth inhibition and the sensitization to daunorubicin in KB cells. Disulfide-linked ODN liposomes exhibited superior colloidal stability during 5-week storage.
Disulfide-linked liposomes are effective delivery vehicles for antisense ODN.
Liposomes; disulfide; antisense oligonucleotide; G3139; Bcl-2; drug delivery
Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors either alone or in combination with hypomethylating agents have limited clinical effect in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Previously we demonstrated that AML patients with higher miR-29b expression had better response to the hypomethylating agent decitabine. Therefore, an increase in miR-29b expression preceding decitabine treatment may provide a therapeutic advantage. We previously showed that miR-29b expression is suppressed by a repressor complex that includes HDACs. Thus, HDAC inhibition may increase miR-29b expression. We hypothesized that priming AML cells with the novel HDAC inhibitor (HDACI) AR-42 would result in increased response to decitabine treatment via upregulation of miR-29b. Here we show that AR-42 is a potent HDACI in AML, increasing miR-29b levels and leading to downregulation of known miR-29b targets (i.e., SP1, DNMT1, DNMT3A, and DNMT3B). We then demonstrated that the sequential administration of AR-42 followed by decitabine resulted in a stronger anti-leukemic activity in vitro and in vivo than decitabine followed by AR-42 or either drug alone. These preclinical results with AR-42 priming before decitabine administration represents a promising, novel treatment approach and a paradigm shift with regard to the combination of epigenetic-targeting compounds in AML, where decitabine has been traditionally given before HDAC inhibitors.
acute myeloid leukemia; HDACI; AR-42; decitabine; miR-29b
The impact of mutation of the ATM (ataxia telangiectasia mutated) gene in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) treatment outcome has not been examined. We studied ATM mutations in 73 patients treated with fludarabine and rituximab. ATM gene mutation analysis was performed using temperature gradient capillary electrophoresis. The impact of detected variants on overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) was tested with proportional hazards models. None of the 73 patients demonstrated truncating ATM mutations; 17 (23%, 95% confidence interval 14 – 35%) had non-silent variants (ATM-NSVs), including 13 known ATM polymorphisms and four missense variants. ATM-NSVs were not significantly associated with any baseline characteristics including immunoglobulin heavy chain variable gene (IGVH) status. In multivariable models, no significant differences in complete response (p = 0.70), PFS (p = 0.59) or OS (p = 0.13) were observed. Our data indicate that truncating ATM mutations are rare in patients with CLL. Furthermore, in this dataset, these non-silent variants had limited impact on PFS and OS.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia; ATM mutation; prognosis; chemoimmunotherapy
To determine the association of RUNX1 mutations with therapeutic outcome in younger and older patients with primary cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia (CN-AML) and with gene/microRNA expression signatures.
Patients and Methods
Younger (< 60 years; n = 175) and older (≥ 60 years; n = 225) patients with CN-AML treated with intensive cytarabine/anthracycline-based first-line therapy on Cancer and Leukemia Group B protocols were centrally analyzed for RUNX1 mutations by polymerase chain reaction and direct sequencing and for established prognostic gene mutations. Gene/microRNA expression profiles were derived using microarrays.
RUNX1 mutations were found in 8% and 16% of younger and older patients, respectively (P = .02). They were associated with ASXL1 mutations (P < .001) and inversely associated with NPM1 (P < .001) and CEBPA (P = .06) mutations. RUNX1-mutated patients had lower complete remission rates (P = .005 in younger; P = .006 in older) and shorter disease-free survival (P = .058 in younger; P < .001 in older), overall survival (P = .003 in younger; P < .001 in older), and event-free survival (P < .001 for younger and older) than RUNX1 wild-type patients. Because RUNX1 mutations were more common in older patients and almost never coexisted with NPM1 mutations, RUNX1 mutation–associated expression signatures were derived in older, NPM1 wild-type patients and featured upregulation of genes normally expressed in primitive hematopoietic cells and B-cell progenitors, including DNTT, BAALC, BLNK, CD109, RBPMS, and FLT3, and downregulation of promoters of myelopoiesis, including CEBPA and miR-223.
RUNX1 mutations are twice as common in older than younger patients with CN-AML and negatively impact outcome in both age groups. RUNX1-mutated blasts have molecular features of primitive hematopoietic and lymphoid progenitors, potentially leading to novel therapeutic approaches.
Chromosomal abnormalities are detected in 50–60% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and are important predictors of prognosis and risk of relapse. The remaining patients, those with cytogenetically normal AML, are a seemingly homogeneous group that in fact consists of subsets of patients with distinct clinical outcomes. This heterogeneity is likely related to acquired gene mutations, as well as altered miRNA and gene-expression profiles, which occur within the group. The identification of recurrent molecular abnormalities has improved prognostication and provided insight into mechanisms of leukemogenesis for patients with cytogenetically normal AML, as well as led to the discovery of novel therapeutic targets. As the number of mutations continues to expand, bioinformatic algorithms that allow for integration of multiple markers will be necessary to provide optimal care for patients with this disease.
acute myeloid leukemia; mutational analysis; normal karyotype; prognostic markers
Increased ZAP-70 expression predicts poor prognosis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Current methods for accurately measuring ZAP-70 expression are problematic, preventing widespread application of these tests in clinical decision making. We therefore used comprehensive DNA methylation profiling of the ZAP-70 regulatory region to identify sites important for transcriptional control.
Patients and Methods
High-resolution quantitative DNA methylation analysis of the entire ZAP-70 gene regulatory regions was conducted on 247 samples from patients with CLL from four independent clinical studies.
Through this comprehensive analysis, we identified a small area in the 5′ regulatory region of ZAP-70 that showed large variability in methylation in CLL samples but was universally methylated in normal B cells. High correlation with mRNA and protein expression, as well as activity in promoter reporter assays, revealed that within this differentially methylated region, a single CpG dinucleotide and neighboring nucleotides are particularly important in ZAP-70 transcriptional regulation. Furthermore, by using clustering approaches, we identified a prognostic role for this site in four independent data sets of patients with CLL using time to treatment, progression-free survival, and overall survival as clinical end points.
Comprehensive quantitative DNA methylation analysis of the ZAP-70 gene in CLL identified important regions responsible for transcriptional regulation. In addition, loss of methylation at a specific single CpG dinucleotide in the ZAP-70 5′ regulatory sequence is a highly predictive and reproducible biomarker of poor prognosis in this disease. This work demonstrates the feasibility of using quantitative specific ZAP-70 methylation analysis as a relevant clinically applicable prognostic test in CLL.
Purpose of review Core-binding factor (CBF) acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is among the most common cytogenetic subtypes of AML, being detected in approximately 13% of adults with primary disease. Although CBF-AML is associated with a relatively favorable prognosis, only one-half of the patients are cured. Herein we review recent discoveries of genetic and epigenetic alterations in CBF-AML that may represent novel prognostic markers and therapeutic targets and lead to improvement of the still disappointing clinical outcome of these patients.
Recent findings Several acquired gene mutations and gene-expression and microRNA-expression changes that occur in addition to t(8;21)(q22;q22) and inv(16)(p13q22)/t(16;16)(p13;q22), the cytogenetic hallmarks of CBF-AML, have been recently reported. Alterations that may represent cooperative events in CBF-AML leukemogenesis include mutations in the KIT, FLT3, JAK2 and RAS genes, haploinsufficiency of the putative tumor suppressor genes TLE1 and TLE4 in t(8;21)-positive patients with del(9q), MN1 overexpression in inv(16) patients, and epigenetic and posttranscriptional silencing of CEBPA. Genome-wide gene-expression and microRNA-expression profiling identifying subgroups of CBF-AML patients with distinct molecular signatures, different clinical outcomes, or both, have also been reported.
Summary Progress has been made in delineating the genetic basis of CBF-AML that will likely result in improved prognostication and development of novel, risk-adapted therapeutic approaches.
acute myeloid leukemia; core-binding factor; gene-expression profiling; JAK2; KIT; MN1
How inflammation causes cancer is unclear. IL-15 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine elevated in human large granular lymphocyte (LGL) leukemia. Mice overexpressing IL-15 develop LGL leukemia. Here we show that prolonged in vitro exposure of wild type (WT) LGL to IL-15 results in Myc-mediated up regulation of aurora kinases, centrosome aberrancies, and aneuploidy. Simultaneously, IL-15 represses miR-29b via induction of Myc/NF-κBp65/Hdac-1, resulting in Dnmt3b overexpression and DNA hypermethylation. All this is validated in human LGL leukemia. Strikingly, adoptive transfer of WT LGL cultured with IL-15 led to malignant transformation in vivo. Drug targeting which reverses miR-29b repression, cures otherwise fatal LGL leukemia. We show how excessive IL-15 initiates cancer and demonstrate effective drug targeting for potential therapy of human LGL leukemia.
Antisense oligonucleotide G3139-mediated down-regulation of Bcl-2 is a potential strategy for overcoming chemoresistance in leukemia. However, the limited efficacy shown in recent clinical trials calls attention to the need for further development of novel and more efficient delivery systems. In order to address this issue, transferrin receptor (TfR)-targeted, protamine-containing lipid nanoparticles (Tf-LNs) were synthesized as delivery vehicles for G3139. The LNs were produced by an ethanol dilution method and lipid-conjugated Tf ligand was then incorporated by a post-insertion method. The resulting Tf-LNs had a mean particle diameter of ~ 90 nm and G3139 loading efficiency of 90.4%. Antisense delivery efficiency of Tf-LNs was evaluated in K562, MV4-11 and Raji leukemia cell lines. The results showed that Tf-LNs were more effective than non-targeted LNs and free G3139 (p <0.05) in decreasing Bcl-2 expression (by up to 62% at the mRNA level in K562 cells) and in inducing caspase-dependent apoptosis. In addition, Bcl-2 down-regulation and apoptosis induced by Tf-LN G3139 were shown to be blocked by excess free Tf and thus were TfR-dependent. Cell lines with higher TfR expression also showed greater Bcl-2 down-regulation. Furthermore, upregulation of TfR expression in leukemia cells by iron chelator deferoxamine resulted in a further increase in antisense effect (up to 79% Bcl-2 reduction in K562 at the mRNA level) and in caspase-dependent apoptosis (by ~ 3-fold) by Tf-LN. Tf-LN mediated delivery combined with TfR up-regulation by deferoxamine appears to be a potentially promising strategy for enhancing the delivery efficiency and therapeutic efficacy of antisense oligonucleotides.
Transferrin receptor; lipid nanoparticles; protamine; antisense; oligonucleotide; G3139
Activating mutations [internal tandem duplication (ITD)] or overexpression of the FMS-like tyrosine kinase receptor-3 (FLT3) gene are associated with poor outcome in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients, underscoring the need for novel therapeutic approaches. The natural product silvestrol has potent antitumor activity in several malignancies, but its therapeutic impact on distinct molecular high-risk AML subsets remains to be fully investigated. We examined here the preclinical activity of silvestrol in FLT3-ITD and FLT3 wild-type (wt) AML.
Silvestrol in vitro anti-leukemic activity was examined by colorimetric cell viability assay, colony-forming and flow cytometry assays assessing growth inhibition and apoptosis, respectively. Pharmacological activity of silvestrol on FLT3 mRNA translation, mRNA and protein expression was determined by RNA-immunoprecipitation, qRT-PCR and immunoblot analyses, respectively. Silvestrol in vivo efficacy was investigated using MV4-11 leukemia-engrafted mice.
Silvestrol shows antileukemia activity at nanomolar concentrations both in FLT3-wt overexpressing (THP-1) and FLT3-ITD (MV4-11) expressing AML cell lines (IC50 = 3.8 and 2.7 nM, respectively) and patients’ primary blasts [IC50 = ~12 nM (FLT3-wt) and ~5 nM (FLT3-ITD)]. Silvestrol increased apoptosis (~4fold, P = 0.0001), and inhibited colony-formation (100%, P < 0.0001) in primary blasts. Silvestrol efficiently inhibited FLT3 translation reducing FLT3 protein expression by 80–90% and decreased miR-155 levels (~60%), a frequently co-regulated onco-miR in FLT3-ITD-positive AML. The median survival of silvestrol-treated vs vehicle-treated mice was 63 vs 29 days post-engraftment, respectively (P < 0.0001).
Silvestrol exhibits significant in vivo and in vitro antileukemic activities in AML through a novel mechanism resulting in inhibition of FLT3 and miR-155 expression. These encouraging results warrant a rapid translation of silvestrol for clinical testing in AML.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), single-stranded non-coding RNAs, influence myriad biological processes that can contribute to cancer. Although tumor-suppressive and oncogenic functions have been characterized for some miRNAs, the majority of microRNAs have not been investigated for their ability to promote and modulate tumorigenesis. Here, we established that the miR-191/425 cluster is transcriptionally dependent on the host gene, DALRD3, and that the hormone 17β-estradiol (estrogen or E2) controls expression of both miR-191/425 and DALRD3. MiR-191/425 locus characterization revealed that the recruitment of estrogen receptor α (ERα) to the regulatory region of the miR-191/425-DALRD3 unit resulted in the accumulation of miR-191 and miR-425 and subsequent decrease in DALRD3 expression levels. We demonstrated that miR-191 protects ERα positive breast cancer cells from hormone starvation-induced apoptosis through the suppression of tumor-suppressor EGR1. Furthermore, enforced expression of the miR-191/425 cluster in aggressive breast cancer cells altered global gene expression profiles and enabled us to identify important tumor promoting genes, including SATB1, CCND2, and FSCN1, as targets of miR-191 and miR-425. Finally, in vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrated that miR-191 and miR-425 reduced proliferation, impaired tumorigenesis and metastasis, and increased expression of epithelial markers in aggressive breast cancer cells. Our data provide compelling evidence for the transcriptional regulation of the miR-191/425 cluster and for its context-specific biological determinants in breast cancers. Importantly, we demonstrated that the miR-191/425 cluster, by reducing the expression of an extensive network of genes, has a fundamental impact on cancer initiation and progression of breast cancer cells.
MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that act as posttranscriptional repressors of gene expression. A pivotal role for miRNAs in all the molecular processes driving initiation and progression of various malignancies, including breast cancer, has been described. Divergent miRNA expression between normal and neoplastic breast tissues has been demonstrated, as well as differential miRNA expression among the molecular subtypes of breast cancer. Over half of all breast cancers overexpress ERα, and several studies have shown that miRNA expression is controlled by ERα. We assessed the global change in microRNA expression after estrogen starvation and stimulation in breast cancer cells and identified that miR-191/425 and the host gene DALRD3 are positively associated to ERα-positive tumors. We demonstrated that ERα regulates the miR-191/425 cluster and verified the existence of a transcriptional network that allows a dual effect of estrogen on miR-191/425 and their host gene. We show that estrogen induction of miR-191/425 supports in vitro and in vivo the estrogen-dependent proliferation of ERα positive breast cancer cells. On the contrary, miR-191/425 cluster reprograms gene expression to impair tumorigenicity and metastatic potential of highly aggressive ERα negative breast cancer cells.
To determine the frequency of DNMT3A mutations, their associations with clinical and molecular characteristics and outcome, and the associated gene- and microRNA-expression signatures in primary cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia (CN-AML).
Patients and Methods
Four hundred fifteen previously untreated adults were analyzed for DNMT3A mutations and established prognostic gene mutations and expression markers. Gene- and microRNA-expression profiles were derived using microarrays.
Younger (< 60 years; n = 181) and older (≥ 60 years; n = 234) patients had similar frequencies of DNMT3A mutations (35.3% v 33.3%). Missense mutations affecting arginine codon 882 (R882-DNMT3A) were more common (n = 92; 62%) than those affecting other codons (non–R882-DNMT3A). DNMT3A-mutated patients did not differ regarding complete remission rate, but had shorter disease-free survival (DFS; P = .03) and, by trend, overall survival (OS; P = .07) than DNMT3A–wild-type patients. In multivariable analyses, DNMT3A mutations remained associated with shorter DFS (P = .01), but not with shorter OS. When analyzed separately, the two DNMT3A mutation types had different significance by age group. Younger patients with non–R882-DNMT3A mutations had shorter DFS (P = .002) and OS (P = .02), whereas older patients with R882-DNMT3A mutations had shorter DFS (P = .005) and OS (P = .002) after adjustment for other clinical and molecular prognosticators. Gene- and microRNA-expression signatures did not accurately predict DNMT3A mutational status.
DNMT3A mutations are frequent in CN-AML, and their clinical significance seems to be age dependent. DNMT3A-R882 mutations are associated with adverse prognosis in older patients, and non–R882-DNMT3A mutations are associated with adverse prognosis in younger patients. Low accuracy of gene- and microRNA-expression signatures in predicting DNMT3A mutation status suggested that the role of these mutations in AML remains to be elucidated.
DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mark and dysregulation of DNA methylation is associated with many diseases including cancer. Advances in next-generation sequencing now allow unbiased methylome profiling of entire patient cohorts, greatly facilitating biomarker discovery and presenting new opportunities to understand the biological mechanisms by which changes in methylation contribute to disease. Enrichment-based sequencing assays such as MethylCap-seq are a cost effective solution for genome-wide determination of methylation status, but the technical reliability of methylation reconstruction from raw sequencing data has not been well characterized.
We analyze three MethylCap-seq data sets and perform two different analyses to assess data quality. First, we investigate how data quality is affected by excluding samples that do not meet quality control cutoff requirements. Second, we consider the effect of additional reads on enrichment score, saturation, and coverage. Lastly, we verify a method for the determination of the global amount of methylation from MethylCap-seq data by comparing to a spiked-in control DNA of known methylation status.
We show that rejection of samples based on our quality control parameters leads to a significant improvement of methylation calling. Additional reads beyond ~13 million unique aligned reads improved coverage, modestly improved saturation, and did not impact enrichment score. Lastly, we find that a global methylation indicator calculated from MethylCap-seq data correlates well with the global methylation level of a sample as obtained from a spike-in DNA of known methylation level.
We show that with appropriate quality control MethylCap-seq is a reliable tool, suitable for cohorts of hundreds of patients, that provides reproducible methylation information on a feature by feature basis as well as information about the global level of methylation.
Advances in whole genome profiling have revolutionized the cancer research field, but at the same time have raised new bioinformatics challenges. For next generation sequencing (NGS), these include data storage, computational costs, sequence processing and alignment, delineating appropriate statistical measures, and data visualization. Currently there is a lack of workflows for efficient analysis of large, MethylCap-seq datasets containing multiple sample groups.
The NGS application MethylCap-seq involves the in vitro capture of methylated DNA and subsequent analysis of enriched fragments by massively parallel sequencing. The workflow we describe performs MethylCap-seq experimental Quality Control (QC), sequence file processing and alignment, differential methylation analysis of multiple biological groups, hierarchical clustering, assessment of genome-wide methylation patterns, and preparation of files for data visualization.
Here, we present a scalable, flexible workflow for MethylCap-seq QC, secondary data analysis, tertiary analysis of multiple experimental groups, and data visualization. We demonstrate the experimental QC procedure with results from a large ovarian cancer study dataset and propose parameters which can identify problematic experiments. Promoter methylation profiling and hierarchical clustering analyses are demonstrated for four groups of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. We propose a Global Methylation Indicator (GMI) function to assess genome-wide changes in methylation patterns between experimental groups. We also show how the workflow facilitates data visualization in a web browser with the application Anno-J.
This workflow and its suite of features will assist biologists in conducting methylation profiling projects and facilitate meaningful biological interpretation.