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1.  Novel drug candidates for blast phase chronic myeloid leukemia from high-throughput drug sensitivity and resistance testing 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(5):e309-.
Chronic myeloid leukemia in blast crisis (CML BC) remains a challenging disease to treat despite the introduction and advances in tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy. In this study we set out to identify novel candidate drugs for CML BC by using an unbiased high-throughput drug testing platform. We used three CML cell lines representing different types of CML blast phases (K562, EM-2 and MOLM-1) and primary leukemic cells from three CML BC patients. Profiling of drug responses was performed with a drug sensitivity and resistance testing platform comprising 295 anticancer agents. Overall, drug sensitivity scores and the drug response profiles of cell line and primary cell samples correlated well and were distinct from other types of leukemia samples. The cell lines were highly sensitive to TKIs and the clinically TKI-resistant patient samples were also resistant ex vivo. Comparison of cell line and patient sample data identified new candidate drugs for CML BC, such as vascular endothelial growth factor receptor and nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase inhibitors. Our results indicate that these drugs in particular warrant further evaluation by analyzing a larger set of primary patient samples. The results also pave way for designing rational combination therapies.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.30
PMCID: PMC4423219  PMID: 25933373
2.  Abnormal FISH in patients with immunoglobulin light chain amyloidosis is a risk factor for cardiac involvement and for death 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(5):e310-.
Importance of interphase fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) with cytoplasmic staining of immunoglobulin FISH (cIg-FISH) on bone marrow is not well understood in light chain amyloidosis (AL). This is in contrast with multiple myeloma where prognostic and treatment related decisions are dependent on cytogenetic testing. This retrospective study reviewed 401 AL patients with cIg-FISH testing performed at our institution between 2004 and 2012. Eighty-one percent of patients had an abnormal cIg-FISH. Common abnormalities involved translocations of chromosome 14q32 (52%), specifically: t(11;14) (43%), t(14;16) (3%) and t(4;14) (2%). Other common abnormalities include monosomy 13/deletion 13q (30%), trisomies 9 (20%), 15 (14%), 11 (10%) and 3 (10%). Median overall survival for this cohort of patients is 3.5 years. When plasma cell burden was greater than 10% trisomies predicted for worse survival (44 vs 19 months), and when it was ⩽10% t(11;14) predicted for worse survival (53 months vs not reached). Abnormal cIg-FISH was significantly associated with advanced cardiac involvement, and remained a prognostic factor on multivariate analysis. This large AL cohort demonstrates that abnormal FISH at diagnosis is prognostic for survival and advanced cardiac disease. Particularly, trisomies and t(11;14) affect survival when degree of plasma cell burden is considered.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.34
PMCID: PMC4423220  PMID: 25933374
3.  NPM-ALK mediates phosphorylation of MSH2 at tyrosine 238, creating a functional deficiency in MSH2 and the loss of mismatch repair 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(5):e311-.
The vast majority of anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALK+ALCL) tumors express the characteristic oncogenic fusion protein NPM-ALK, which mediates tumorigenesis by exerting its constitutive tyrosine kinase activity on various substrates. We recently identified MSH2, a protein central to DNA mismatch repair (MMR), as a novel binding partner and phosphorylation substrate of NPM-ALK. Here, using liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry, we report for the first time that MSH2 is phosphorylated by NPM-ALK at a specific residue, tyrosine 238. Using GP293 cells transfected with NPM-ALK, we confirmed that the MSH2Y238F mutant is not tyrosine phosphorylated. Furthermore, transfection of MSH2Y238F into these cells substantially decreased the tyrosine phosphorylation of endogenous MSH2. Importantly, gene transfection of MSH2Y238F abrogated the binding of NPM-ALK with endogenous MSH2, re-established the dimerization of MSH2:MSH6 and restored the sensitivity to DNA mismatch-inducing drugs, indicative of MMR return. Parallel findings were observed in two ALK+ALCL cell lines, Karpas 299 and SUP-M2. In addition, we found that enforced expression of MSH2Y238F into ALK+ALCL cells alone was sufficient to induce spontaneous apoptosis. In conclusion, our findings have identified NPM-ALK-induced phosphorylation of MSH2 at Y238 as a crucial event in suppressing MMR. Our studies have provided novel insights into the mechanism by which oncogenic tyrosine kinases disrupt MMR.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.35
PMCID: PMC4476014  PMID: 25978431
4.  The SUV39H1 inhibitor chaetocin induces differentiation and shows synergistic cytotoxicity with other epigenetic drugs in acute myeloid leukemia cells 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(5):e313-.
Epigenetic modifying enzymes have a crucial role in the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Methylation of lysine 9 on histone H3 by the methyltransferase G9a and SUV39H1 is associated with inhibition of tumor suppressor genes. We studied the effect of G9a and SUV39H1 inhibitors on viability and differentiation of AML cells and tested the cytotoxicity induced by combination of G9a and SUV39H1 inhibitors and various epigenetic drugs. The SUV39H1 inhibitor (chaetocin) and the G9a inhibitor (UNC0638) caused cell death in AML cells at high concentrations. However, only chaetocin-induced CD11b expression and differentiation of AML cells at non-cytotoxic concentration. HL-60 and KG-1a cells were more sensitive to chaetocin than U937 cells. Long-term incubation of chaetocin led to downregulation of SUV39H1 and reduction of H3K9 tri-methylation in HL-60 and KG-1a cells. Combination of chaetocin with suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA, a histone deacetylase inhibitor) or JQ (a BET (bromodomain extra terminal) bromodomain inhibitor) showed synergistic cytotoxicity. Conversely, no synergism was found by combining chaetocin and UNC0638. More importantly, chaetocin-induced differentiation and combined cytotoxicity were also found in the primary cells of AML patients. Collectively, the SUV39H1 inhibitor chaetocin alone or in combination with other epigenetic drugs may be effective for the treatment of AML.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.37
PMCID: PMC4476016  PMID: 25978433
5.  Rational combination treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitors and immunomodulatory drugs in multiple myeloma 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(5):e312-.
Immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs) thalidomide, lenalidomide (Len) and pomalidomide trigger anti-tumor activities in multiple myeloma (MM) by targetting cereblon and thereby impacting IZF1/3, c-Myc and IRF4. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) also downregulate c-Myc. We therefore determined whether IMiDs with HDACi trigger significant MM cell growth inhibition by inhibiting or downregulating c-Myc. Combination treatment of Len with non-selective HDACi suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid or class-I HDAC-selective inhibitor MS275 induces synergic cytotoxicity, associated with downregulation of c-Myc. Unexpectedly, we observed that decreased levels of cereblon (CRBN), a primary target protein of IMiDs, was triggered by these agents. Indeed, sequential treatment of MM cells with MS275 followed by Len shows less efficacy than simultaneous treatment with this combination. Importantly ACY1215, an HDAC6 inhibitor with minimal effects on class-I HDACs, together with Len induces synergistic MM cytotoxicity without alteration of CRBN expression. Our results showed that only modest class-I HDAC inhibition is able to induce synergistic MM cytotoxicity in combination with Len. These studies may provide the framework for utilizing HDACi in combination with Len to both avoid CRBN downregulation and enhance anti-MM activities.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.38
PMCID: PMC4476017  PMID: 25978432
6.  A novel antibody–drug conjugate targeting SAIL for the treatment of hematologic malignancies 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(5):e316-.
Although several new therapeutic approaches have improved outcomes in the treatment of hematologic malignancies, unmet need persists in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), multiple myeloma (MM) and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Here we describe the proteomic identification of a novel cancer target, SAIL (Surface Antigen In Leukemia), whose expression is observed in AML, MM, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and follicular lymphoma (FL). While SAIL is widely expressed in CLL, AML, MM, DLBCL and FL patient samples, expression in cancer cell lines is mostly limited to cells of AML origin. We evaluated the antitumor activity of anti-SAIL monoclonal antibodies, 7-1C and 67-7A, conjugated to monomethyl auristatin F. Following internalization, anti-SAIL antibody–drug conjugates (ADCs) exhibited subnanomolar IC50 values against AML cell lines in vitro. In pharmacology studies employing AML cell line xenografts, anti-SAIL ADCs resulted in significant tumor growth inhibition. The restricted expression profile of this target in normal tissues, the high prevalence in different types of hematologic cancers and the observed preclinical activity support the clinical development of SAIL-targeted ADCs.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.39
PMCID: PMC4476018  PMID: 26024286
7.  Genetic and epigenetic profiling of CLL disease progression reveals limited somatic evolution and suggests a relationship to memory-cell development 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(4):e303-.
We examined genetic and epigenetic changes that occur during disease progression from indolent to aggressive forms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) using serial samples from 27 patients. Analysis of DNA mutations grouped the leukemia cases into three categories: evolving (26%), expanding (26%) and static (47%). Thus, approximately three-quarters of the CLL cases had little to no genetic subclonal evolution. However, we identified significant recurrent DNA methylation changes during progression at 4752 CpGs enriched for regions near Polycomb 2 repressive complex (PRC2) targets. Progression-associated CpGs near the PRC2 targets undergo methylation changes in the same direction during disease progression as during normal development from naive to memory B cells. Our study shows that CLL progression does not typically occur via subclonal evolution, but that certain CpG sites undergo recurrent methylation changes. Our results suggest CLL progression may involve developmental processes shared in common with the generation of normal memory B cells.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.14
PMCID: PMC4450323  PMID: 25860294
8.  Mesenchymal stromal cells derived from acute myeloid leukemia bone marrow exhibit aberrant cytogenetics and cytokine elaboration 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(4):e302-.
Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSCs) play a fundamental role in the BM microenvironment (BME) and abnormalities of these cells may contribute to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) pathogenesis. The aim of the study was to characterize the cytokine and gene expression profile, immunophenotype and cytogenetics of BM-MSCs from AML patients compared to normal BM-MSCs from healthy donors. AML BM-MSCs showed decreased monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 levels compared to normal BM-MSCs. AML BM-MSCs expressed similar β1 integrin, CD44, CD73, CD90 and E-cadherin compared to normal BM-MSCs. Cytogenetic analysis revealed chromosomal aberrations in AML BM-MSCs, some overlapping with and others distinct from their corresponding AML blasts. No significant difference in gene expression was detected between AML BM-MSCs compared to normal BM-MSCs; however, comparing the differences between AML and MSCs from AML patients with the differences between normal hematopoietic cells and normal MSCs by Ingenuity pathway analysis showed key distinctions of the AML setting: (1) upstream gene regulation by transforming growth factor beta 1, tumor necrosis factor, tissue transglutaminase 2, CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha and SWItch/Sucrose NonFermentable related, matrix associated, actin dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily a, member 4; (2) integrin and interleukin 8 signaling as overrepresented canonical pathways; and (3) upregulation of transcription factors FBJ murine osteosarcoma viral oncogene homolog and v-myb avian myeloblastosis viral oncogene homolog. Thus, phenotypic abnormalities of AML BM-MSCs highlight a dysfunctional BME that may impact AML survival and proliferation.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.17
PMCID: PMC4450324  PMID: 25860293
9.  Drug screen in patient cells suggests quinacrine to be repositioned for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(4):e307-.
To find drugs suitable for repositioning for use against leukemia, samples from patients with chronic lymphocytic, acute myeloid and lymphocytic leukemias as well as peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were tested in response to 1266 compounds from the LOPAC1280 library (Sigma). Twenty-five compounds were defined as hits with activity in all leukemia subgroups (<50% cell survival compared with control) at 10 μM drug concentration. Only one of these compounds, quinacrine, showed low activity in normal PBMCs and was therefore selected for further preclinical evaluation. Mining the NCI-60 and the NextBio databases demonstrated leukemia sensitivity and the ability of quinacrine to reverse myeloid leukemia gene expression. Mechanistic exploration was performed using the NextBio bioinformatic software using gene expression analysis of drug exposed acute myeloid leukemia cultures (HL-60) in the database. Analysis of gene enrichment and drug correlations revealed strong connections to ribosomal biogenesis nucleoli and translation initiation. The highest drug–drug correlation was to ellipticine, a known RNA polymerase I inhibitor. These results were validated by additional gene expression analysis performed in-house. Quinacrine induced early inhibition of protein synthesis supporting these predictions. The results suggest that quinacrine have repositioning potential for treatment of acute myeloid leukemia by targeting of ribosomal biogenesis.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.31
PMCID: PMC4450329  PMID: 25885427
10.  Dysregulated choline metabolism in T-cell lymphoma: role of choline kinase-α and therapeutic targeting 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(3):287-.
Cancer cells have distinct metabolomic profile. Metabolic enzymes regulate key oncogenic signaling pathways and have an essential role on tumor progression. Here, serum metabolomic analysis was performed in 45 patients with T-cell lymphoma (TCL) and 50 healthy volunteers. The results showed that dysregulation of choline metabolism occurred in TCL and was related to tumor cell overexpression of choline kinase-α (Chokα). In T-lymphoma cells, pharmacological and molecular silencing of Chokα significantly decreased Ras-GTP activity, AKT and ERK phosphorylation and MYC oncoprotein expression, leading to restoration of choline metabolites and induction of tumor cell apoptosis/necropotosis. In a T-lymphoma xenograft murine model, Chokα inhibitor CK37 remarkably retarded tumor growth, suppressed Ras-AKT/ERK signaling, increased lysophosphatidylcholine levels and induced in situ cell apoptosis/necropotosis. Collectively, as a regulatory gene of aberrant choline metabolism, Chokα possessed oncogenic activity and could be a potential therapeutic target in TCL, as well as other hematological malignancies with interrupted Ras signaling pathways.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.10
PMCID: PMC4382653  PMID: 25768400
11.  The relationship of TP53 R72P polymorphism to disease outcome and TP53 mutation in myelodysplastic syndromes 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(3):e291-.
Nonsynonymous TP53 exon 4 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), R72P, is linked to cancer and mutagen susceptibility. R72P associations with specific cancer risk, particularly hematological malignancies, have been conflicting. Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) with chromosome 5q deletion is characterized by erythroid hypoplasia arising from lineage-specific p53 accumulation resulting from ribosomal insufficiency. We hypothesized that apoptotically diminished R72P C-allele may influence predisposition to del(5q) MDS. Bone marrow and blood DNA was sequenced from 705 MDS cases (333 del(5q), 372 non-del(5q)) and 157 controls. Genotype distribution did not significantly differ between del(5q) cases (12.6% CC, 38.1% CG, 49.2% GG), non-del(5q) cases (9.7% CC, 44.6% CG, 45.7% GG) and controls (7.6% CC, 37.6% CG, 54.8% GG) (P=0.13). Allele frequency did not differ between non-del(5q) and del(5q) cases (P=0.91) but trended towards increased C-allele frequency comparing non-del(5q) (P=0.08) and del(5q) (P=0.10) cases with controls. Median lenalidomide response duration increased proportionate to C-allele dosage in del(5q) patients (2.2 (CC), 1.3 (CG) and 0.89 years (GG)). Furthermore, C-allele homozygosity in del(5q) was associated with prolonged overall and progression-free survival and non-terminal interstitial deletions that excluded 5q34, whereas G-allele homozygozity was associated with inferior outcome and terminal deletions involving 5q34 (P=0.05). These findings comprise the largest MDS R72P SNP analysis.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.11
PMCID: PMC4382654  PMID: 25768405
12.  A robust and rapid xenograft model to assess efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents for human acute myeloid leukemia 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(3):e297-.
Relevant preclinical mouse models are crucial to screen new therapeutic agents for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Current in vivo models based on the use of patient samples are not easy to establish and manipulate in the laboratory. Our objective was to develop robust xenograft models of human AML using well-characterized cell lines as a more accessible and faster alternative to those incorporating the use of patient-derived AML cells. Five widely used AML cell lines representing various AML subtypes were transplanted and expanded into highly immunodeficient non-obese diabetic/LtSz-severe combined immunodeficiency IL2Rγcnull mice (for example, cell line-derived xenografts). We show here that bone marrow sublethal conditioning with busulfan or irradiation has equal efficiency for the xenotransplantation of AML cell lines. Although higher number of injected AML cells did not change tumor engraftment in bone marrow and spleen, it significantly reduced the overall survival in mice for all tested AML cell lines. On the basis of AML cell characteristics, these models also exhibited a broad range of overall mouse survival, engraftment, tissue infiltration and aggressiveness. Thus, we have established a robust, rapid and straightforward in vivo model based on engraftment behavior of AML cell lines, all vital prerequisites for testing new therapeutic agents in preclinical studies.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.19
PMCID: PMC4382660  PMID: 25794133
13.  Improvement in renal function and its impact on survival in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(3):e296-.
Renal impairment (RI) is seen in over a quarter of patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (NDMM). It is not clear if reversal of RI improves the outcome to that expected for NDMM patients without RI. We evaluated 1135 consecutive patients with NDMM seen at the Mayo Clinic between January 2003 and December 2012. RI was defined as having a creatinine clearance (CrCl) <40ml/min. The median overall survival (OS) for patients with RI at diagnosis receiving and not receiving novel agent induction therapy was not reached vs 46 months (P<0.001). The median OS for patients with CrCl ⩾40 ml/min at diagnosis, CrCl <40 ml/min at diagnosis but improved to ⩾40 ml/min and CrCl <40 ml/min at diagnosis and remained <40 ml/min, were 112, 56 and 33 months, respectively (P<0.001). The complete renal response rate for patients with RI at diagnosis receiving novel agent induction therapy compared to the rest was 40 vs 16% (P<0.001). In conclusion, patients with reversal of RI have improved outcomes, but it remains inferior to patients with normal renal function at diagnosis. These results have implications for identifying early treatment strategies for patients at risk of developing renal insufficiency.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.20
PMCID: PMC4382661  PMID: 25794132
14.  BRAF V600E mutation in early-stage multiple myeloma: good response to broad acting drugs and no relation to prognosis 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(3):e299-.
In this study, we analyzed the prevalence and clone size of BRAF V600E mutation in 209 patients with multiple myeloma and related the results to clinical phenotype, response and survival. Biopsies were screened for BRAF V600E by allele-specific real-time PCR (AS-PCR). Positive results were confirmed by immunohistochemistry, Sanger sequencing and, in three patients from whom we had stored purified myeloma cells, whole-exome sequencing. Eleven patients (5.3%) were BRAF V600E mutation positive by AS-PCR and at least one other method. The fraction of mutated cells varied from 4 to 100%. BRAF V600E-positive patients had no characteristic clinical phenotype except for significantly higher levels of serum creatinine (125 versus 86 μmol/l) Seven of eleven patients responded with at least very good partial response to alkylators, immunomodulatory agents or proteasome inhibitors. Progression-free and overall survival were similar in patients with and without the mutation. By this integrated approach, we found that patients with BRAF V600E mutation responded very well to broad acting drugs and there was no relation to prognosis in early-stage myeloma. In particular, a large mutated cell fraction did not correlate with aggressive disease.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.24
PMCID: PMC4382665  PMID: 25794135
15.  Evaluation of plitidepsin in patients with primary myelofibrosis and post polycythemia vera/essential thrombocythemia myelofibrosis: results of preclinical studies and a phase II clinical trial 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(3):e286-.
Previous data established that plitidepsin, a cyclic depsipeptide, exerted activity in a mouse model of myelofibrosis (MF). New preclinical experiments reported herein found that low nanomolar plitidepsin concentrations potently inhibited the proliferation of JAK2V617F-mutated cell lines and reduced colony formation by CD34+ cells of individuals with MF, at least in part through modulation of p27 levels. Cells of MF patients had significantly reduced p27 content, that were modestly increased upon plitidepsin exposure. On these premise, an exploratory phase II trial evaluated plitidepsin 5 mg/m2 3-h intravenous infusion administered on days 1 and 15 every 4 weeks (q4wk). Response rate (RR) according to the International Working Group for Myelofibrosis Research and Treatment consensus criteria was 9.1% (95% CI, 0.2–41.3%) in 11 evaluable patients during the first trial stage. The single responder achieved a red cell transfusion independence and stable disease was reported in nine additional patients (81.8%). Eight patients underwent a short-lasting improvement of splenomegaly. In conclusion, plitidepsin 5 mg/m2 3-h infusion q4wk was well tolerated but had a modest activity in patients with primary, post-polycythaemia vera or post-essential thrombocythaemia MF. Therefore, this trial was prematurely terminated and we concluded that further clinical trials with plitidepsin as single agent in MF are not warranted.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.5
PMCID: PMC4382667  PMID: 25768401
16.  PD-1 expression defines two distinct T-cell sub-populations in follicular lymphoma that differentially impact patient survival 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(2):e281-.
To determine the biological and clinical relevance of programmed death 1 (PD-1) in follicular lymphoma (FL), we characterized PD-1+ T-cell subsets and assessed their biological function as well as potential clinical impact. We found that PD-1 is expressed on intratumoral CD4+ T cells with both bright and dim intensity, representing two different sub-populations of cells. By immunohistochemistry, we found that CD4+PD-1high T cells predominantly reside in the lymph node follicles, while PD-1low T cells are mainly located in an interfollicular pattern. Intratumoral CD4+PD-1high T cells have a TFH cell phenotype, express CXCR5, secrete IL-21 and are BCL-6 positive with no TIM-3 expression. In contrast, CD4+PD-1low T cells have an exhausted phenotype, express TIM-3 and do not express BCL-6 and CXCR5. Functionally, CD4+PD-1high T cells actively supported B-cell growth, while CD4+PD-1low T cells displayed a reduced cytokine production and cell-signal transduction. Clinically, we observed that the numbers of CD4+ or CD8+PD-1low T cells significantly correlate with a reduced overall survival in FL patients (P=0.007 and 0.04 respectively; n=32). In contrast, the number of CD4+PD-1high T cells was not associated with patient outcome. Taken together, these results indicated that PD-1 expression defines two sub-populations with distinct functions that differentially impact patient outcome in FL.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2015.1
PMCID: PMC4349259  PMID: 25700246
17.  Minimal residual disease detection with tumor-specific CD160 correlates with event-free survival in chronic lymphocytic leukemia 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(1):e273-.
In chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the detection of minimal residual disease (MRD) correlates with outcome in the trial setting. However, MRD assessment does not guide routine clinical management and its assessment remains complex. We incorporated detection of the B cell, tumor-specific antigen CD160 to develop a single-tube, flow cytometry assay (CD160FCA) for CLL MRD to a threshold of 10−4 to 10−5. One hundred and eighty-seven patients treated for CLL were enrolled. Utilizing the CD160FCA methodology, there was a high level of comparison between blood and bone marrow (R=0.87, P<0.001). In a validation cohort, CD160FCA and the international standardised approach of the European Research Initiative on CLL group demonstrated high concordance (R=0.91, P<0.01). Patients in complete remission (CR) and CD160FCA negative had longer event-free survival (EFS) (63 vs 16 months, P<0.01) and prolonged time to next treatment (60 vs 15 months, P<0.001) vs MRD positive patients; with a median time to MRD positivity of 36 months. In multivariate analysis, CD160FCA MRD detection was independently predictive of EFS in patients in CR and even predicted EFS in the good-risk cytogenetic subgroup. CD160FCA offers a simple assay for MRD detection in CLL and gives prognostic information across different CLL risk groups.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.92
PMCID: PMC4314455  PMID: 25615279
18.  Novel recurrent mutations in ethanolamine kinase 1 (ETNK1) gene in systemic mastocytosis with eosinophilia and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia 
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(1):e275-.
Although KITD816V occurs universally in adult systemic mastocytosis (SM), the clinical heterogeneity of SM suggests presence of additional phenotype-patterning mutations. Because up to 25% of SM patients have KITD816V-positive eosinophilia, we undertook whole-exome sequencing in a patient with aggressive SM with eosinophilia to identify novel genetic alterations. We conducted sequencing of purified eosinophils (clone/tumor sample), with T-lymphocytes as the matched control/non-tumor sample. In addition to KITD816V, we identified a somatic missense mutation in ethanolamine kinase 1 (ETNK1N244S) that was not present in 50 healthy controls. Targeted resequencing of 290 patients showed ETNK1 mutations to be distributed as follows: (i) SM (n=82; 6% mutated); (ii) chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML; n=29; 14% mutated); (iii) idiopathic hypereosinophilia (n=137; <1% mutated); (iv) primary myelofibrosis (n=32; 0% mutated); and (v) others (n=10; 0% mutated). Of the 82 SM cases, 25 had significant eosinophilia; of these 20% carried ETNK1 mutations. The ten mutations (N244S=6, N244T=1, N244K=1, G245A=2) targeted two contiguous amino acids in the ETNK1 kinase domain, and are predicted to be functionally disruptive. In summary, we identified novel somatic missense ETNK1 mutations that were most frequent in SM with eosinophilia and CMML; this suggests a potential pathogenetic role for dysregulated cytidine diphosphate-ethanolamine pathway metabolites in these diseases.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.94
PMCID: PMC4314457  PMID: 25615281
19.  Autophagy collaborates with ubiquitination to downregulate oncoprotein E2A/Pbx1 in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Yuan, N | Song, L | Lin, W | Cao, Y | Xu, F | Liu, S | Zhang, A | Wang, Z | Li, X | Fang, Y | Zhang, H | Zhao, W | Hu, S | Wang, J | Zhang, S
Blood Cancer Journal  2015;5(1):e274-.
B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) accounts for the most cancer incidences in children. We present here that autophagy is downregulated in pediatric B-ALL, suggesting a possible link between autophagy failure and pediatric B-ALL leukemogenesis. With a pediatric t(1;19) B-ALL xenograft mouse model, we show here that activation of autophagy by preventive administration of rapamycin improved the survival of leukemia animals by partial restoration of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, whereas treatment of the animals with rapamycin caused leukemia bone marrow cell-cycle arrest. Activation of autophagy in vitro or in vivo by rapamycin or starvation downregulated oncogenic fusion protein E2A/Pbx1. Furthermore, E2A/Pbx1 was found to be colocalized with autophagy marker LC3 in autolysosomes and with ubiquitin in response to autophagy stimuli, whereas autophagy or ubiquitination inhibitor blocked these colocalizations. Together, our data suggest a collaborative action between autophagy and ubiquitination in the degradation of E2A/Pbx1, thereby revealing a novel strategy for targeted preventive or treatment therapy on the pediatric ALL.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.96
PMCID: PMC4314458  PMID: 25615280
20.  Reduced TET2 function leads to T-cell lymphoma with follicular helper T-cell-like features in mice 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(12):e264-.
TET2 (Ten Eleven Translocation 2) is a dioxygenase that converts methylcytosine (mC) to hydroxymethylcytosine (hmC). TET2 loss-of-function mutations are highly frequent in subtypes of T-cell lymphoma that harbor follicular helper T (Tfh)-cell-like features, such as angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (30–83%) or peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified (10–49%), as well as myeloid malignancies. Here, we show that middle-aged Tet2 knockdown (Tet2gt/gt) mice exhibit Tfh-like cell overproduction in the spleen compared with control mice. The Tet2 knockdown mice eventually develop T-cell lymphoma with Tfh-like features after a long latency (median 67 weeks). Transcriptome analysis revealed that these lymphoma cells had Tfh-like gene expression patterns when compared with splenic CD4-positive cells of wild-type mice. The lymphoma cells showed lower hmC densities around the transcription start site (TSS) and higher mC densities at the regions of the TSS, gene body and CpG islands. These epigenetic changes, seen in Tet2 insufficiency-triggered lymphoma, possibly contributed to predated outgrowth of Tfh-like cells and subsequent lymphomagenesis. The mouse model described here suggests that TET2 mutations play a major role in the development of T-cell lymphoma with Tfh-like features in humans.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.83
PMCID: PMC4315889  PMID: 25501021
21.  Decision analysis for donor selection in stem cell transplantation—HLA-8/8 allele-matched unrelated donor vs HLA-1 AG mismatched related donor 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(12):e263-.
Risk of relapse during the unrelated donor coordination period biases comparisons between allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation from an HLA 8 of 8 allele-matched unrelated donor (8/8 MUD) and that from a related donor with an HLA-1 antigen mismatch in the graft-versus-host (GVH) direction (RD/1AGMM-GVH). To reduce this bias, we performed a decision analysis focusing on acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in first complete remission (CR1). The primary outcome measure was 5-year survival probability with or without quality-of-life (QOL) adjustment. A baseline analysis showed that the decision to perform MUD transplantation was superior to that to perform RD/1AGMM-GVH transplantation for patients with AML or ALL. However, in the ALL cohort, the direction of superiority was reversed when the interval between CR1 and 8/8 MUD transplantation was >5.5 months (without QOL adjustment) or >6 months (after QOL adjustment) or when overall survival of RD/1AGMM-GVH transplantation improved by 1.3% without QOL adjustment and 2.1% after QOL adjustment. In conclusion, 8/8 MUD should be prioritized in transplantation for AML and ALL in CR1. However, the MUD coordination period and improvements in RD/1AGMM-GVH transplantation might change the donor selection priority in transplantation for ALL in CR1.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.85
PMCID: PMC4315891  PMID: 25479570
22.  Concurrent IMRT and weekly cisplatin followed by GDP chemotherapy in newly diagnosed, stage IE to IIE, nasal, extranodal NK/T-Cell lymphoma 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(12):e267-.
On the basis of the benefits of frontline radiation in early-stage, extranodal natural killer (NK)/T-cell lymphoma (ENKTL), we conducted the trial of concurrent chemoradiotherapy (CCRT) followed by three cycles of gemcitabine, dexamethasone and cisplatin (GDP). Thirty-two patients with newly diagnosed, stage IE to IIE, nasal ENKTL received CCRT (that is, all patients received intensity-modulated radiotherapy 56 Gy and cisplatin 30 mg/m2 weekly, 3–5 weeks). Three cycles of GDP (gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 intravenously (i.v.) on days 1 and 8, dexamethasone 40 mg orally on days 1–4 and cisplatin 75 mg/m2 i.v. on day 1 (GDP), every 21 days as an outpatient were scheduled after CCRT. All patients completed CCRT, which resulted in 100% response that included 24 complete responses (CRs) and eight partial responses. The CR rate after CCRT was 75.0% (that is, 24 of 32 responses). Twenty-eight of the 32 patients completed the planned three cycles of GDP, whereas four patients did not because they withdrew (n=1) or because they had an infection (n=3). The overall response rate and the CR rate were 90.6% (that is, 29 of 32 responses) and 84.4% (that is, 27 of 32 responses), respectively. Only two patient experienced grade 3 toxicity during CCRT (nausea), whereas 13 of the 30 patients experienced grade 4 neutropenia. The estimated 3-year overall survival and progression-free rates were 87.50% and 84.38%, respectively. In conclusion, CCRT followed by GDP chemotherapy can be a feasible and effective treatment strategy for stage IE to IIE nasal ENKTL.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.88
PMCID: PMC4315894  PMID: 25501024
23.  Modeling chronic myeloid leukemia in immunodeficient mice reveals expansion of aberrant mast cells and accumulation of pre-B cells 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(12):e269-.
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative neoplasm that, if not treated, will progress into blast crisis (BC) of either myeloid or B lymphoid phenotype. The BCR-ABL1 fusion gene, encoding a constitutively active tyrosine kinase, is thought to be sufficient to cause chronic phase (CP) CML, whereas additional genetic lesions are needed for progression into CML BC. To generate a humanized CML model, we retrovirally expressed BCR-ABL1 in the cord blood CD34+ cells and transplanted these into NOD-SCID (non-obese diabetic/severe-combined immunodeficient) interleukin-2-receptor γ-deficient mice. In primary mice, BCR-ABL1 expression induced an inflammatory-like state in the bone marrow and spleen, and mast cells were the only myeloid lineage specifically expanded by BCR-ABL1. Upon secondary transplantation, the pronounced inflammatory phenotype was lost and mainly human mast cells and macrophages were found in the bone marrow. Moreover, a striking block at the pre-B-cell stage was observed in primary mice, resulting in an accumulation of pre-B cells. A similar block in B-cell differentiation could be confirmed in primary cells from CML patients. Hence, this humanized mouse model of CML reveals previously unexplored features of CP CML and should be useful for further studies to understand the disease pathogenesis of CML.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.89
PMCID: PMC4315895  PMID: 25501026
24.  Pathogenetic and diagnostic significance of microRNA deregulation in peripheral T-cell lymphoma not otherwise specified 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(11):259-.
Peripheral T-cell lymphomas not otherwise specified (PTCLs/NOS) are rare and aggressive tumours whose molecular pathogenesis and diagnosis are still challenging. The microRNA (miRNA) profile of 23 PTCLs/NOS was generated and compared with that of normal T-lymphocytes (CD4+, CD8+, naive, activated). The differentially expressed miRNA signature was compared with the gene expression profile (GEP) of the same neoplasms. The obtained gene patterns were tested in an independent cohort of PTCLs/NOS. The miRNA profile of PTCLs/NOS then was compared with that of 10 angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphomas (AITLs), 6 anaplastic large-cell lymphomas (ALCLs)/ALK+ and 6 ALCLs/ALK−. Differentially expressed miRNAs were validated in an independent set of 20 PTCLs/NOS, 20 AITLs, 19 ALCLs/ALK− and 15 ALCLs/ALK+. Two hundred and thirty-six miRNAs were found to differentiate PTCLs/NOS from activated T-lymphocytes. To assess which miRNAs impacted on GEP, a multistep analysis was performed, which identified all miRNAs inversely correlated to different potential target genes. One of the most discriminant miRNAs was selected and its expression was found to affect the global GEP of the tumours. Moreover, two sets of miRNAs were identified distinguishing PTCL/NOS from AITL and ALCL/ALK−, respectively. The diagnostic accuracy of this tool was very high (83.54%) and its prognostic value validated.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.78
PMCID: PMC4335255  PMID: 25382608
25.  Inter- and intratumoral heterogeneity of BCL2 correlates with IgH expression and prognosis in follicular lymphoma 
Blood Cancer Journal  2014;4(10):e249-.
Most follicular lymphomas (FLs) are genetically defined by the t(14;18)(q32;q21) translocation that juxtaposes the BCL2 gene to the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) 3' regulatory regions (IgH-3'RRs). Despite this recurrent translocation, FL cases are heterogeneous in terms of intratumoral clonal diversity for acquired mutations and variations in the tumor microenvironment. Here we describe an additional mechanism that contributes to inter- and intratumoral heterogeneity in FLs. By applying a novel single-molecule RNA fluorescence-based in situ hybridization (FISH) technique to detect mRNA molecules of BCL2 and IgH in single cells, we found marked heterogeneity in the number of BCL2 mRNA transcripts within individual lymphoma cells. Moreover, BCL2 mRNA molecules correlated with IgH mRNA molecules in individual cells both in t(14;18) lymphoma cell lines and in patient samples. Consistently, a strong correlation between BCL2 and IgH protein levels was found in a series of 205 primary FL cases by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry. Inter- and intratumoral heterogeneity of BCL2 expression determined resistance to drugs commonly used in FL treatment and affected overall survival of FL patients. These data demonstrate that BCL2 and IgH expressions are heterogeneous and coregulated in t(14;18)-translocated cells, and determine the response to therapy in FL patients.
doi:10.1038/bcj.2014.67
PMCID: PMC4220646  PMID: 25303368

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