[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Components of the prokaryotic clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) loci have recently been repurposed for use in mammalian cells. The CRISPR-associated (Cas)9 can be programmed with a single guide RNA (sgRNA) to generate site-specific DNA breaks, but there are few known rules governing on-target efficacy of this system. We created a pool of sgRNAs, tiling across all possible target sites of a panel of six endogenous mouse and three endogenous human genes and quantitatively assessed their ability to produce null alleles of their target gene by antibody staining and flow cytometry. We discovered sequence features that improved activity, including a further optimization of the protospacer-adjacent motif (PAM) of Streptococcus pyogenes Cas9. The results from 1,841 sgRNAs were used to construct a predictive model of sgRNA activity to improve sgRNA design for gene editing and genetic screens. We provide an online tool for the design of highly active sgRNAs for any gene of interest.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Efforts to develop more effective therapies for acute leukemia may benefit from high-throughput screening systems that reflect the complex physiology of the disease, including leukemia stem cells (LSCs) and supportive interactions with the bone marrow microenvironment. The therapeutic targeting of LSCs is challenging because LSCs are highly similar to normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) and are protected by stromal cells in vivo. We screened 14,718 compounds in a leukemia-stroma co-culture system for inhibition of cobblestone formation, a cellular behavior associated with stem-cell function. Among those compounds that inhibited malignant cells but spared HSPCs was the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin. Lovastatin showed anti-LSC activity in vitro and in an in vivo bone marrow transplantation model. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that the effect was on target, via inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase. These results illustrate the power of merging physiologically relevant models with high-throughput screening.
Nature Chemical Biology 10/2013; · 12.95 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: An increasingly complete compendium of recurrently mutated genes in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) has been defined, and the application of massively parallel sequencing to identify mutations in clinical practice now promises to improve the care of patients with this disease. More than 25 recurrent MDS-associated somatic mutations have been identified, involving biological pathways as diverse as chromatin remodeling and pre-mRNA splicing. Several of these mutations have been demonstrated to have prognostic implications that are independent of existing risk stratification systems based on clinical and pathological parameters. Application of these recent discoveries to diagnosis, prognosis, risk stratification and treatment selection for patients with MDS has the potential to improve patient outcomes. Here, we review recent advances in MDS and discuss potential applications of these discoveries to clinical practice.
Clinical Cancer Research 01/2013; · 7.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumors (IMTs) are indolent mesenchymal neoplasms associated with a small risk of aggressive behavior and metastasis. Surgery is the mainstay of treatment and until recently there have been limited effective treatment options for unresectable disease. This review describes the identification of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) fusion genes in approximately 50% of IMTs and the role of ALK inhibition in the treatment of this disease.
A recent phase I dose-escalation trial of the selective MET/ALK inhibitor crizotinib showed a long-term partial response in a patient with IMT carrying an ALK translocation but not in a patient with ALK-negative disease. Emergence of resistance to crizotinib occurs approximately 5-8 months after initiation of therapy and has been shown to be driven by different mechanisms. Multiple second-generation ALK inhibitors are currently being investigated in the preclinical and clinical trial setting.
ALK-directed therapy has emerged as a highly effective treatment option for a subset of patients with IMT and pulmonary adenocarcinoma. A number of additional malignancies, including rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma, anaplastic large cell lymphoma, renal cell carcinoma, and inflammatory breast cancer, have been shown to activate ALK expression by means of ALK fusion proteins, ALK mutations, or increased ALK copy number. Development of more selective ALK inhibitors, which can overcome emergent crizotinib resistance mutations, as well as development of combination treatments with drugs targeting compensatory pathways, will be key to achieving therapeutic success in targeting this potent and prevalent oncogenic driver.
Current opinion in oncology 07/2012; 24(4):409-13. · 4.09 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: AKT activation is associated with many malignancies, where AKT acts, in part, by inhibiting FOXO tumor suppressors. We show a converse role for AKT/FOXOs in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Rather than decreased FOXO activity, we observed that FOXOs are active in ∼40% of AML patient samples regardless of genetic subtype. We also observe this activity in human MLL-AF9 leukemia allele-induced AML in mice, where either activation of Akt or compound deletion of FoxO1/3/4 reduced leukemic cell growth, with the latter markedly diminishing leukemia-initiating cell (LIC) function in vivo and improving animal survival. FOXO inhibition resulted in myeloid maturation and subsequent AML cell death. FOXO activation inversely correlated with JNK/c-JUN signaling, and leukemic cells resistant to FOXO inhibition responded to JNK inhibition. These data reveal a molecular role for AKT/FOXO and JNK/c-JUN in maintaining a differentiation blockade that can be targeted to inhibit leukemias with a range of genetic lesions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The NOTCH signaling pathway is implicated in a broad range of developmental processes, including cell fate decisions. However, the molecular basis for its role at the different steps of stem cell lineage commitment is unclear. We recently identified the NOTCH signaling pathway as a positive regulator of megakaryocyte lineage specification during hematopoiesis, but the developmental pathways that allow hematopoietic stem cell differentiation into the erythro-megakaryocytic lineages remain controversial. Here, we investigated the role of downstream mediators of NOTCH during megakaryopoiesis and report crosstalk between the NOTCH and PI3K/AKT pathways. We demonstrate the inhibitory role of phosphatase with tensin homolog and Forkhead Box class O factors on megakaryopoiesis in vivo. Finally, our data annotate developmental mechanisms in the hematopoietic system that enable a decision to be made either at the hematopoietic stem cell or the committed progenitor level to commit to the megakaryocyte lineage, supporting the existence of 2 distinct developmental pathways.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pten deficiency depletes hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) but expands leukemia-initiating cells, and the mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, blocks these effects. Understanding the opposite effects of mTOR activation on HSCs versus leukemia-initiating cells could improve antileukemia therapies. We found that the depletion of Pten-deficient HSCs was not caused by oxidative stress and could not be blocked by N-acetyl-cysteine. Instead, Pten deletion induced, and rapamycin attenuated, the expression of p16(Ink4a) and p53 in HSCs, and p19(Arf) and p53 in other hematopoietic cells. p53 suppressed leukemogenesis and promoted HSC depletion after Pten deletion. p16(Ink4a) also promoted HSC depletion but had a limited role suppressing leukemogenesis. p19(Arf) strongly suppressed leukemogenesis but did not deplete HSCs. Secondary mutations attenuated this tumor suppressor response in some leukemias that arose after Pten deletion. mTOR activation therefore depletes HSCs by a tumor suppressor response that is attenuated by secondary mutations in leukemogenic clones.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a recent issue of Nature, Diehn et al. (2009) demonstrate that breast cancer stem cells (CSCs) maintain lower levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) than their nontumorigenic counterparts. Their studies provide a link between the management of ROS by CSCs and enhanced tumor radioresistance.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite their known transforming properties, the effects of leukemogenic FLT3-ITD mutations on hematopoietic stem and multipotent progenitor cells and on hematopoietic differentiation are not well understood. We report a mouse model harboring an ITD in the murine Flt3 locus that develops myeloproliferative disease resembling CMML and further identified FLT3-ITD mutations in a subset of human CMML. These findings correlated with an increase in number, cell cycling, and survival of multipotent stem and progenitor cells in an ITD dose-dependent manner in animals that exhibited alterations within their myeloid progenitor compartments and a block in normal B cell development. This model provides insights into the consequences of constitutive signaling by an oncogenic tyrosine kinase on hematopoietic progenitor quiescence, function, and cell fate.
Cancer Cell 11/2007; 12(4):367-80. · 24.76 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The forkhead O (FoxO) family of transcription factors participates in diverse physiologic processes, including induction of cell-cycle arrest, stress resistance, differentiation, apoptosis, and metabolism. Several recent studies indicate that FoxO-dependent signaling is required for long-term regenerative potential of the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) compartment through regulation of HSC response to physiologic oxidative stress, quiescence, and survival. These observations link FoxO function in mammalian systems with the evolutionarily conserved role of FoxO in promotion of stress resistance and longevity in lower phylogenetic systems. Furthermore, these findings have implications for aging in higher organisms and in malignant stem cell biology, and suggest that FoxOs may play an important role in the maintenance and integrity of stem cell compartments in a broad spectrum of tissues.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Changes in histone methylation status regulate chromatin structure and DNA-dependent processes such as transcription. Recent studies indicate that, analogous to other histone modifications, histone methylation is reversible. Retinoblastoma binding protein 2 (RBP2), a nuclear protein implicated in the regulation of transcription and differentiation by the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein, contains a JmjC domain recently defined as a histone demethylase signature motif. Here we report that RBP2 is a demethylase that specifically catalyzes demethylation on H3K4, whose methylation is normally associated with transcriptionally active genes. RBP2-/- mouse cells displayed enhanced transcription of certain cytokine genes, which, in the case of SDF1, was associated with increased H3K4 trimethylation. Furthermore, RBP2 specifically demethylated H3K4 in biochemical and cell-based assays. These studies provide mechanistic insights into transcriptional regulation by RBP2 and provide the first example of a mammalian enzyme capable of erasing trimethylated H3K4.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Activated phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)-AKT signaling appears to be an obligate event in the development of cancer. The highly related members of the mammalian FoxO transcription factor family, FoxO1, FoxO3, and FoxO4, represent one of several effector arms of PI3K-AKT signaling, prompting genetic analysis of the role of FoxOs in the neoplastic phenotypes linked to PI3K-AKT activation. While germline or somatic deletion of up to five FoxO alleles produced remarkably modest neoplastic phenotypes, broad somatic deletion of all FoxOs engendered a progressive cancer-prone condition characterized by thymic lymphomas and hemangiomas, demonstrating that the mammalian FoxOs are indeed bona fide tumor suppressors. Transcriptome and promoter analyses of differentially affected endothelium identified direct FoxO targets and revealed that FoxO regulation of these targets in vivo is highly context-specific, even in the same cell type. Functional studies validated Sprouty2 and PBX1, among others, as FoxO-regulated mediators of endothelial cell morphogenesis and vascular homeostasis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To understand the role of FoxO family members in hematopoiesis, we conditionally deleted FoxO1, FoxO3, and FoxO4 in the adult hematopoietic system. FoxO-deficient mice exhibited myeloid lineage expansion, lymphoid developmental abnormalities, and a marked decrease of the lineage-negative Sca-1+, c-Kit+ (LSK) compartment that contains the short- and long-term hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) populations. FoxO-deficient bone marrow had defective long-term repopulating activity that correlated with increased cell cycling and apoptosis of HSC. Notably, there was a marked context-dependent increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) in FoxO-deficient HSC compared with wild-type HSC that correlated with changes in expression of genes that regulate ROS. Furthermore, in vivo treatment with the antioxidative agent N-acetyl-L-cysteine resulted in reversion of the FoxO-deficient HSC phenotype. Thus, FoxO proteins play essential roles in the response to physiologic oxidative stress and thereby mediate quiescence and enhanced survival in the HSC compartment, a function that is required for its long-term regenerative potential.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Constitutive expression of telomerase prevents senescence and crisis by maintaining telomere homeostasis. However, recent evidence suggests that telomerase is dynamically regulated in normal cells and also contributes to transformation independently of net telomere elongation. Here, we show that suppression of the telomerase catalytic subunit [human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT)] expression abrogates the cellular response to DNA double strand breaks. Loss of hTERT does not alter short-term telomere integrity but instead affects the overall configuration of chromatin. Cells lacking hTERT exhibit increased radiosensitivity, diminished capacity for DNA repair, and fragmented chromosomes, demonstrating that loss of hTERT impairs the DNA damage response.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2005; 102(23):8222-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Between 30% and 50% of patients with advanced-stage anaplastic large-cell lymphoma (ALCL) harbor the balanced chromosomal rearrangement t(2;5)(p23;q35), which results in the generation of the fusion protein nucleophosmin-anaplastic lymphoma kinase (NPM-ALK). To further study survival signaling by NPMALK, we generated Ba/F3 cell lines with either inducible or constitutive expression of NPM-ALK and examined the regulation of the AKT target FOXO3a. We hypothesized that NPM-ALK signaling through phosphoinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) and AKT would regulate FOXO3a, a member of the forkhead family of transcription factors, thereby stimulating proliferation and blocking programmed cell death in NPM-ALK-transformed cells. In Ba/F3 cells with induced or constitutive expression of NPM-ALK, concomitant AKT activation and phosphorylation of its substrate, FOXO3a, was observed. In addition, transient expression of NPM-ALK in U-20S cells inhibited FOXO3a-mediated transactivation of reporter gene expression. Furthermore, NPM-ALK-induced FOXO3a phosphorylation in Ba/F3 cells resulted in nuclear exclusion of this transcriptional regulator, up-regulation of cyclin D2 expression, and down-regulation of p27(kip1) and Bim-1 expression. NPMALK reversal of proliferation arrest and of p27(kip1) induction was dependent on the phosphorylation of FOXO3a. Thus, FOXO3a is a barrier to hematopoietic transformation that is overcome by phosphorylation and cytoplasmic relocalization induced by the expression of NPM-ALK.