[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The DNA damage pathway plays a central role in chemoresistance in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), as indicated by the prognostic impact of TP53 and ATM loss/mutations. We investigated the function of the p53 axis in primary CLL samples by studying p53 and p21 responses to irradiation by FACS and RT-PCR. We observed a distinct response pattern for most cases with a 17p deletion (n = 16) or a sole TP53 mutation (n = 8), but not all cases with a p53 aberration were detected based on a number of different assays used. Samples with a small clone with a TP53 mutation remained undetected in all assays. Only 1 of 123 cases showed high expression of p53, which is suggestive of p53 aberration without proof of mutation of TP53. Samples with an 11q deletion showed a heterogeneous response, with only 13 of 30 showing an abnormal response based on cutoff. Nevertheless, the overall induction of p53 and p21 was impaired, suggesting a gene-dosage effect for ATM in the 11q-deleted samples. The detectability of p53 defects is influenced by clonal heterogeneity and sample purity. Functional assays of p53 defects will detect a small number of cases not detectable by FISH or TP53 mutational analysis. The clinical utility of functional p53 testing will need to be derived from clinical trials.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia has a variable clinical course. Genomic aberrations identify prognostic subgroups, pointing towards distinct underlying biological mechanisms that are poorly understood. In particular it remains unclear whether the prognostic subgroups of chronic lymphocytic leukemia are characterized by different levels of leukemogenic proteins.
Expression of 23 proteins involved in apoptosis, proliferation, DNA damage, and signaling or whose genes map to chromosomal regions known to be critical in chronic lymphocytic leukemia was quantified in 185 cytogenetically well characterized cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia using immunoblotting. Cases were categorized hierarchically into deletion(17p), deletion(11q), trisomy 12, deletion(13q) as sole abnormality or normal karyotype. Statistical analysis was performed for expression differences between these subgroups. In addition, the expression levels of CDK4, P27 and P53 were quantified over the clinical course and compared to levels in immunopurified B cells from healthy individuals.
In subgroups with a good prognosis, differential expression was mainly seen for proteins that regulate apoptosis. In contrast, in cytogenetic subgroups with a worse prognosis, differential expression was mostly detected for proteins that control DNA damage and proliferation. Expression levels of CDK4, P27 and P53 were higher compared to those in B cells from healthy individuals and significantly correlated with increasing hierarchical risk. In addition, no significant longitudinal changes of expression levels of CDK4, P27 and P53 could be detected in chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients.
Differences in expression levels of apoptosis- and proliferation-controlling proteins define distinct prognostic subgroups of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and uncover a correlation of levels of CDK4, P27 and P53 proteins with higher hierarchical risk.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prognosis of fludarabine (F)-refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is very poor, and underlying mechanisms are only partly understood. To assess the contribution of p53 abnormalities to F-refractory CLL, we studied TP53 mutations in the CLL2H trial (subcutaneous alemtuzumab; n = 99). We found TP53 mutations in 37% of patients. Twelve of 67 (18%) patients without the 17p deletion showed a TP53 mutation and 50% showed evidence of uniparental disomy. A total of 75% of cases with TP53 mutation (without 17p-) showed clonal evolution/expansion. TP53 mutations had no impact on overall survival (P = .48). CLL with the 17p deletion or TP53 mutation showed very low miR-34a expression. To investigate the mechanisms underlying refractory CLL beyond p53, we studied cases without 17p-/TP53 mutation in detail. In several paired samples before and after F-refractory disease, no change in p21/p53 induction was observed after DNA damage. Although TP53 mutations and 17p deletions are found in a high proportion of F-refractory CLL, more than half of the cases cannot be explained by p53 defects (deletion or mutation), and alternative mechanisms need to be investigated. Alemtuzumab is effective irrespective of genetic high-risk subgroups with TP53 mutations. These clinical trials are registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT00274976.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The importance of studying p53 pathway defects in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has been promoted by the demonstration of the fundamentally different clinical course of patients with 17p deletion. The observation of resistance to chemotherapy and mutation of the remaining TP53 allele explain the clinical presentation of CLL with 17p deletion. Here we review recent evidence that cases with TP53 mutation in the absence of the deletion of 17p have a similar clinical and biological course as cases carrying the deletion 17p. In addition, other principal components of the DNA damage pathway reportedly are de-regulated by mutation (ATM), deletion (ATM) or potentially more complex down-regulation (miR-34a) in CLL. Nonetheless, challenges remain because we can only explain resistance in a proportion of the cases that are resistant to first line treatment. This is of particular practical interest because our armamentarium of drugs in clinical use that acts independent of the DNA damage pathway is growing, for example antibody-based treatment (alemtuzumab), immuno-modulating drugs (lenalidomide), CDK inhibitors (flavopiridol) and steroids.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 17p (TP53) deletion identifies patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who are resistant to chemotherapy. The members of the miR-34 family have been discovered to be direct p53 targets and mediate some of the p53-dependent effects. We studied miR-34a and miR-34b/c expression in a large cohort to define their potential role in refractory CLL. While no expression of miR-34b/c could be detected, we found variable expression levels of miR-34a. miR-34a levels were up-regulated after DNA damage in the presence of functional p53, but not in cases with 17p deletion (P < .001). We found a strong correlation of low miR-34a levels with impaired DNA damage response, TP53 mutations (without 17p deletion), and fludarabine-refractory disease (also in the absence of 17p deletion). Up-regulation of miR-34a after irradiation was associated with induction of Bax and p21, but not Puma. CLL cells with reduced miR-34a expression showed increased viability after DNA damage independently of 17p status. Therefore, low expression of miR-34a in CLL is associated with p53 inactivation but also chemotherapy-refractory disease, impaired DNA damage response, and apoptosis resistance irrespective of 17p deletion/TP53 mutation. The elucidation of mechanisms underlying miR-34a regulation and overcoming its role in chemotherapy resistance warrant further study.