Iannis Aifantis

NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, New York, United States

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Publications (100)1545.55 Total impact

  • Thomas Trimarchi, Iannis Aifantis
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    ABSTRACT: Pre B-ALL is an aggressive cancer of the blood for which treatment of patients with relapsed and refractory disease remains a challenge. In this issue of Cancer Cell, Geng and colleagues surveyed the activation status of the pre-B cell receptor and comprehensively investigated downstream signaling mechanisms currently targetable with small molecule inhibitors. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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    ABSTRACT: Heat-shock factor 1 (HSF1) orchestrates the heat-shock response in eukaryotes. Although this pathway has evolved to help cells adapt in the presence of challenging conditions, it is co-opted in cancer to support malignancy. However, the mechanisms that regulate HSF1 and thus cellular stress response are poorly understood. Here we show that the ubiquitin ligase FBXW7α interacts with HSF1 through a conserved motif phosphorylated by GSK3β and ERK1. FBXW7α ubiquitylates HSF1 and loss of FBXW7α results in impaired degradation of nuclear HSF1 and defective heat-shock response attenuation. FBXW7α is either mutated or transcriptionally downregulated in melanoma and HSF1 nuclear stabilization correlates with increased metastatic potential and disease progression. FBXW7α deficiency and subsequent HSF1 accumulation activates an invasion-supportive transcriptional program and enhances the metastatic potential of human melanoma cells. These findings identify a post-translational mechanism of regulation of the HSF1 transcriptional program both in the presence of exogenous stress and in cancer.
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    ABSTRACT: Activating NOTCH1 mutations occur in approximately 60% of human T lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemias (T-ALLs), and mutations disrupting the transcription factor IKZF1 (IKAROS) occur in 5% of cases. To investigate the regulatory interplay between these driver genes we have used a novel transgenic RNAi mouse model to produce primary T-ALLs driven by reversible Ikaros knockdown. Restoring endogenous Ikaros expression in established T-ALL in vivo acutely represses Notch1 and its oncogenic target genes including Myc, and in multiple primary leukemias causes disease regression. In contrast, leukemias expressing high levels of endogenous or engineered forms of activated intracellular Notch1 (ICN1) resembling those found in human T-ALL rapidly relapse following Ikaros restoration, indicating that ICN1 functionally antagonizes Ikaros in established disease. Furthermore, we find that IKAROS mRNA expression is significantly reduced in a cohort of primary human T-ALL patient samples with activating NOTCH1FBXW7 mutations, but is upregulated upon acute inhibition of aberrant NOTCH signaling across a panel of human T-ALL cell lines. These results demonstrate for the first time that aberrant NOTCH activity compromises IKAROS function in mouse and human T-ALL, and provide a potential explanation for the relative infrequency of IKAROS gene mutations in human T-ALL.Leukemia accepted article preview online, 06 February 2015. doi:10.1038/leu.2015.27.
    Leukemia 02/2015; DOI:10.1038/leu.2015.27 · 9.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The overexpression of microRNA cluster miR-17-92 has been implicated in development of solid tumors and hematological malignancies. The role of miR-17-92 in lymphomagenesis has been extensively investigated; however, because of the developmental defects caused by miR-17-92 dysregulation, its ability to drive tumorigenesis has remained undetermined until recently. Here we demonstrate that overexpression of miR-17-92 in a limited number of hematopoietic cells is sufficient to cause B cell malignancies. In sum, our study provides a novel and physiologically relevant model that exposes the potent ability of miR-17-92 to act as a driver of tumourigenesis.
    Leukemia Research 12/2014; 39(3). DOI:10.1016/j.leukres.2014.12.002 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Somatic mutations in IDH1/IDH2 and TET2 result in impaired TET2-mediated conversion of 5-methylcytosine (5mC) to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). The observation that WT1 inactivating mutations anticorrelate with TET2/IDH1/IDH2 mutations in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) led us to hypothesize that WT1 mutations may impact TET2 function. WT1 mutant AML patients have reduced 5hmC levels similar to TET2/IDH1/IDH2 mutant AML. These mutations are characterized by convergent, site-specific alterations in DNA hydroxymethylation, which drive differential gene expression more than alterations in DNA promoter methylation. WT1 overexpression increases global levels of 5hmC, and WT1 silencing reduced 5hmC levels. WT1 physically interacts with TET2 and TET3, and WT1 loss of function results in a similar hematopoietic differentiation phenotype as observed with TET2 deficiency. These data provide a role for WT1 in regulating DNA hydroxymethylation and suggest that TET2 IDH1/IDH2 and WT1 mutations define an AML subtype defined by dysregulated DNA hydroxymethylation. Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Iannis Aifantis, Tomas Vilimas, Silvia Buonamici
    Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) 10/2014; 6(4):403-406. DOI:10.4161/cc.6.4.3858 · 5.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cyclin C was cloned as a growth-promoting G1 cyclin, and was also shown to regulate gene transcription. Here we report that in vivo cyclin C acts as a haploinsufficient tumour suppressor, by controlling Notch1 oncogene levels. Cyclin C activates an ‘orphan’ CDK19 kinase, as well as CDK8 and CDK3. These cyclin-C–CDK complexes phosphorylate the Notch1 intracellular domain (ICN1) and promote ICN1 degradation. Genetic ablation of cyclin C blocks ICN1 phosphorylation in vivo, thereby elevating ICN1 levels in cyclin-C-knockout mice. Cyclin C ablation or heterozygosity collaborates with other oncogenic lesions and accelerates development of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL). Furthermore, the cyclin C encoding gene CCNC is heterozygously deleted in a significant fraction of human T-ALLs, and these tumours express reduced cyclin C levels. We also describe point mutations in human T-ALL that render cyclin-C–CDK unable to phosphorylate ICN1. Hence, tumour cells may develop different strategies to evade inhibition by cyclin C.
    Nature Cell Biology 10/2014; DOI:10.1038/ncb3046 · 20.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transcription factors and chromatin-remodeling complexes are key determinants of embryonic stem cell (ESC) identity. Here, we demonstrate that BRD4, a member of the bromodomain and extraterminal domain (BET) family of epigenetic readers, regulates the self-renewal ability and pluripotency of ESCs. BRD4 inhibition resulted in induction of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers and commitment to the neuroectodermal lineage while reducing the ESC multidifferentiation capacity in teratoma assays. BRD4 maintains transcription of core stem cell genes such as OCT4 and PRDM14 by occupying their super-enhancers (SEs), large clusters of regulatory elements, and recruiting to them Mediator and CDK9, the catalytic subunit of the positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb), to allow Pol-II-dependent productive elongation. Our study describes a mechanism of regulation of ESC identity that could be applied to improve the efficiency of ESC differentiation.
    Cell Reports 09/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2014.08.055 · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML), Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and other myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) are genetically heterogeneous but frequently display activating mutations in Ras GTPases and activation of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3). Altered STAT3 activity is observed in up to 50% of AML correlating with poor prognosis. Activated STAT proteins, classically associated with tyrosine phosphorylation, support tumor development as transcription factors, but alternative STAT functions independent of tyrosine phosphorylation have been documented, including roles for serine phosphorylated STAT3 in mitochondria supporting transformation by oncogenic Ras. We examined requirements for STAT3 in experimental murine K-Ras-dependent hematopoietic neoplasia. We show that STAT3 is phosphorylated on S727 but not Y705 in diseased animals. Moreover, a mouse with a point mutation abrogating STAT3 S727 phosphorylation displayed delayed onset and decreased disease severity with significantly extended survival. Activated K-Ras required STAT3 for cytokine-independent growth of myeloid progenitors in vitro, and mitochondrially restricted STAT3 and STAT3-Y705F, both transcriptionally inert mutants, supported factor-independent growth. STAT3 was dispensable for growth of normal or K-Ras-mutant myeloid progenitors in response to cytokines. However, abrogation of STAT3-S727 phosphorylation impaired factor-independent malignant growth. These data document that serine phosphorylated mitochondrial STAT3 supports neoplastic hematopoietic cell growth induced by K-Ras.
    Blood 08/2014; 124(14). DOI:10.1182/blood-2013-02-484196 · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) is a haematological malignancy with a dismal overall prognosis, including a relapse rate of up to 25%, mainly because of the lack of non-cytotoxic targeted therapy options. Drugs that target the function of key epigenetic factors have been approved in the context of haematopoietic disorders, and mutations that affect chromatin modulators in a variety of leukaemias have recently been identified; however, 'epigenetic' drugs are not currently used for T-ALL treatment. Recently, we described that the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) has a tumour-suppressor role in T-ALL. Here we delineated the role of the histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27) demethylases JMJD3 and UTX in T-ALL. We show that JMJD3 is essential for the initiation and maintenance of T-ALL, as it controls important oncogenic gene targets by modulating H3K27 methylation. By contrast, we found that UTX functions as a tumour suppressor and is frequently genetically inactivated in T-ALL. Moreover, we demonstrated that the small molecule inhibitor GSKJ4 (ref. 5) affects T-ALL growth, by targeting JMJD3 activity. These findings show that two proteins with a similar enzymatic function can have opposing roles in the context of the same disease, paving the way for treating haematopoietic malignancies with a new category of epigenetic inhibitors.
    Nature 08/2014; 514(7523). DOI:10.1038/nature13605 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Notch signaling is a key developmental pathway that is subject to frequent genetic and epigenetic perturbations in many different human tumors. Here we investigate whether long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) genes, in addition to mRNAs, are key downstream targets of oncogenic Notch1 in human T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). By integrating transcriptome profiles with chromatin state maps, we have uncovered many previously unreported T-ALL-specific lncRNA genes, a fraction of which are directly controlled by the Notch1/Rpbjκ activator complex. Finally we have shown that one specific Notch-regulated lncRNA, LUNAR1, is required for efficient T-ALL growth in vitro and in vivo due to its ability to enhance IGF1R mRNA expression and sustain IGF1 signaling. These results confirm that lncRNAs are important downstream targets of the Notch signaling pathway, and additionally they are key regulators of the oncogenic state in T-ALL.
    Cell 07/2014; 158(3):593-606. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.05.049 · 33.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tissue homeostasis depends largely on the ability to replenish impaired or aged cells. Thus, tissue-resident stem cells need to provide functional progeny throughout the lifetime of an organism. Significant work in the past years has characterized how stem cells integrate signals from their environment to shape regulatory transcriptional networks and chromatin-regulating factors that control stem cell differentiation or maintenance. There is increasing interest in how post-translational modifications, and specifically ubiquitylation, control these crucial decisions. Ubiquitylation modulates the stability and function of important factors that regulate key processes in stem cell behavior. In this review, we analyze the role of ubiquitylation in embryonic stem cells and different adult multipotent stem cell systems and discuss the underlying mechanisms that control the balance between quiescence, self-renewal, and differentiation. We also discuss deregulated processes of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation that lead to the development of tumor-initiating cells.
    EMBO Reports 04/2014; 15(4). DOI:10.1002/embr.201338373 · 7.86 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Since Notch phenotypes in Drosophila melanogaster were first identified 100 years ago, Notch signaling has been extensively characterized as a regulator of cell-fate decisions in a variety of organisms and tissues. However, in the past 20 years, accumulating evidence has linked alterations in the Notch pathway to tumorigenesis. In this review, we discuss the protumorigenic and tumor-suppressive functions of Notch signaling, and dissect the molecular mechanisms that underlie these functions in hematopoietic cancers and solid tumors. Finally, we link these mechanisms and observations to possible therapeutic strategies targeting the Notch pathway in human cancers.
    Cancer cell 03/2014; 25(3):318-334. DOI:10.1016/j.ccr.2014.02.018 · 25.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Notch signaling pathway is a regulator of self renewal and differentiation in several tissues and cell types. Notch is a binary cell fate determinant and its hyper-activation has been implicated as oncogenic in several cancers including breast cancer and T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Recently several studies also unraveled tumor suppressor roles for Notch signaling in different tissues, including tissues where it was before recognized as an oncogene in specific lineages. Whereas involvement of Notch as an oncogene in several lymphoid malignancies (T-ALL, B-chronic lymphocytic leukemia, splenic marginal zone lymphoma) is well characterized, there is growing evidence involving Notch signaling as a tumor suppressor in myeloid malignancies. It therefore appears that Notch signaling pathway's oncogenic or tumor suppressor abilities are highly context dependent. In this review we summarize and discuss latest advances in the understanding of this dual role in hematopoiesis and the possible consequences for the treatment of hematological malignancies.
    Blood 03/2014; 123(16). DOI:10.1182/blood-2013-08-355818 · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mammary epithelial stem cells are fundamental to maintain tissue integrity. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are implicated in both treatment resistance and disease relapse, and the molecular bases of their malignant properties are still poorly understood. Here we show that both normal stem cells and CSCs of the breast are controlled by the prolyl-isomerase Pin1. Mechanistically, following interaction with Pin1, Notch1 and Notch4, key regulators of cell fate, escape from proteasomal degradation by their major ubiquitin-ligase Fbxw7α. Functionally, we show that Fbxw7α acts as an essential negative regulator of breast CSCs' expansion by restraining Notch activity, but the establishment of a Notch/Pin1 active circuitry opposes this effect, thus promoting breast CSCs self-renewal, tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. In human breast cancers, despite Fbxw7α expression, high levels of Pin1 sustain Notch signaling, which correlates with poor prognosis. Suppression of Pin1 holds promise in reverting aggressive phenotypes, through CSC exhaustion as well as recovered drug sensitivity carrying relevant implications for therapy of breast cancers.
    EMBO Molecular Medicine 01/2014; 6(1). DOI:10.1002/emmm.201302909 · 8.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Somatic Addition of Sex Combs Like 1 (ASXL1) mutations occur in 10-30% of patients with myeloid malignancies, most commonly in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs), and are associated with adverse outcome. Germline ASXL1 mutations occur in patients with Bohring-Opitz syndrome. Here, we show that constitutive loss of Asxl1 results in developmental abnormalities, including anophthalmia, microcephaly, cleft palates, and mandibular malformations. In contrast, hematopoietic-specific deletion of Asxl1 results in progressive, multilineage cytopenias and dysplasia in the context of increased numbers of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, characteristic features of human MDS. Serial transplantation of Asxl1-null hematopoietic cells results in a lethal myeloid disorder at a shorter latency than primary Asxl1 knockout (KO) mice. Asxl1 deletion reduces hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal, which is restored by concomitant deletion of Tet2, a gene commonly co-mutated with ASXL1 in MDS patients. Moreover, compound Asxl1/Tet2 deletion results in an MDS phenotype with hastened death compared with single-gene KO mice. Asxl1 loss results in a global reduction of H3K27 trimethylation and dysregulated expression of known regulators of hematopoiesis. RNA-Seq/ChIP-Seq analyses of Asxl1 in hematopoietic cells identify a subset of differentially expressed genes as direct targets of Asxl1. These findings underscore the importance of Asxl1 in Polycomb group function, development, and hematopoiesis.
    Journal of Experimental Medicine 11/2013; DOI:10.1084/jem.20131141 · 13.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The bone marrow (BM) microenvironment is composed of multiple niche cells that, by producing paracrine factors, maintain and regenerate the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) pool (Morrison and Spradling, 2008). We have previously demonstrated that endothelial cells support the proper regeneration of the hematopoietic system following myeloablation (Butler et al., 2010; Hooper et al., 2009; Kobayashi et al., 2010). Here, we demonstrate that expression of the angiocrine factor Jagged-1, supplied by the BM vascular niche, regulates homeostatic and regenerative hematopoiesis through a Notch-dependent mechanism. Conditional deletion of Jagged-1 in endothelial cells (Jag1((ECKO)) mice) results in a profound decrease in hematopoiesis and premature exhaustion of the adult HSC pool, whereas quantification and functional assays demonstrate that loss of Jagged-1 does not perturb vascular or mesenchymal compartments. Taken together, these data demonstrate that the instructive function of endothelial-specific Jagged-1 is required to support the self-renewal and regenerative capacity of HSCs in the adult BM vascular niche.
    Cell Reports 09/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2013.07.048 · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent studies have identified recurrent mutations in SETBP1, the gene that encodes SET-binding protein 1, in several types of myeloid malignancies, including chronic myeloid and acute myeloid leukemias. The identified mutations frequently target the SKI-homologous domain, although the exact pathogenic mechanisms remain unknown.
    Nature Genetics 08/2013; 45(8):846-7. DOI:10.1038/ng.2709 · 29.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tight control of antigen-receptor gene rearrangement is required to preserve genome integrity and prevent the occurrence of leukaemia and lymphoma. Nonetheless, mistakes can happen, leading to the generation of aberrant rearrangements, such as Tcra/d-Igh inter-locus translocations that are a hallmark of ataxia telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) deficiency. Current evidence indicates that these translocations arise from the persistence of unrepaired breaks converging at different stages of thymocyte differentiation. Here we show that a defect in feedback control of RAG2 activity gives rise to bi-locus breaks and damage on Tcra/d and Igh in the same T cell at the same developmental stage, which provides a direct mechanism for generating these inter-locus rearrangements. Both the RAG2 C-terminus and ATM prevent bi-locus RAG-mediated cleavage through modulation of three-dimensional conformation (higher-order loops) and nuclear organization of the two loci. This limits the number of potential substrates for translocation and provides an important mechanism for protecting genome stability.
    Nature Communications 07/2013; 4:2231. DOI:10.1038/ncomms3231 · 10.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sequencing efforts led to the identification of somatic mutations that could affect the self-renewal and differentiation of cancer-initiating cells. One such recurrent mutation targets the binding pocket of the ubiquitin ligase Fbxw7. Missense FBXW7 mutations are prevalent in various tumors, including T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). To study the effects of such lesions, we generated animals carrying regulatable Fbxw7 mutant alleles. Here, we show that these mutations specifically bolster cancer-initiating cell activity in collaboration with Notch1 oncogenes but spare normal hematopoietic stem cell function. We were also able to show that FBXW7 mutations specifically affect the ubiquitylation and half-life of c-Myc protein, a key T-ALL oncogene. Using animals carrying c-Myc fusion alleles, we connected Fbxw7 function to c-Myc abundance and correlated c-Myc expression to leukemia-initiating activity. Finally, we demonstrated that small-molecule-mediated suppression of MYC activity leads to T-ALL remission, suggesting an effective therapeutic strategy.
    Cell 06/2013; 153(7):1552-66. DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2013.05.041 · 31.96 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

5k Citations
1,545.55 Total Impact Points


  • 2009–2015
    • NYU Langone Medical Center
      • Department of Pathology
      New York, New York, United States
  • 2009–2014
    • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
      Ashburn, Virginia, United States
    • Polytechnic Institute of New York University
      Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • 2008–2014
    • CUNY Graduate Center
      New York, New York, United States
  • 2012–2013
    • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
      • Human Oncology & Pathogenesis Program
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2011
    • Academy of Athens
      Athínai, Attica, Greece
  • 2007–2008
    • New York University
      • Department of Pathology
      New York City, NY, United States
  • 2004–2008
    • University of Chicago
      • • Section of Rheumatology
      • • Department of Medicine
      Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • 2001–2006
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      • Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS
      Boston, MA, United States
  • 2002
    • Harvard Medical School
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1997–1999
    • French Institute of Health and Medical Research
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France