Ulrich Steidl's Lab
Featured research (3)
The surface molecule interleukin-1 receptor accessory protein (IL1RAP) is consistently overexpressed across multiple genetic subtypes of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and other myeloid malignancies, including at the stem cell level, and is emerging as a novel therapeutic target. However, the cell-intrinsic functions of IL1RAP in AML cells are largely unknown. Here, we show that targeting of IL1RAP via RNA interference, genetic deletion, or antibodies inhibits AML pathogenesis in vitro and in vivo, without perturbing healthy hematopoietic function or viability. Furthermore, we found that the role of IL1RAP is not restricted to the IL-1 receptor pathway, but that IL1RAP physically interacts with and mediates signaling and pro-proliferative effects through FLT3 and c-KIT, two receptor tyrosine kinases with known key roles in AML pathogenesis. Our study provides a new mechanistic basis for the efficacy of IL1RAP targeting in AML and reveals a novel role for this protein in the pathogenesis of the disease.
The tumor suppressor p53 is often inactivated via its interaction with endogenous inhibitors mouse double minute 4 homolog (MDM4 or MDMX) or mouse double minute 2 homolog (MDM2), which are frequently overexpressed in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and other cancers. Pharmacological disruption of both of these interactions has long been sought after as an attractive strategy to fully restore p53-dependent tumor suppressor activity in cancers with wild-type p53. Selective targeting of this pathway has thus far been limited to MDM2-only small-molecule inhibitors, which lack affinity for MDMX. We demonstrate that dual MDMX/MDM2 inhibition with a stapled α-helical peptide (ALRN-6924), which has recently entered phase I clinical testing, produces marked antileukemic effects. ALRN-6924 robustly activates p53-dependent transcription at the single-cell and single-molecule levels and exhibits biochemical and molecular biological on-target activity in leukemia cells in vitro and in vivo. Dual MDMX/MDM2 inhibition by ALRN-6924 inhibits cellular proliferation by inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in cell lines and primary AML patient cells, including leukemic stem cell–enriched populations, and disrupts functional clonogenic and serial replating capacity. Furthermore, ALRN-6924 markedly improves survival in AML xenograft models. Our study provides mechanistic insight to support further testing of ALRN-6924 as a therapeutic approach in AML and other cancers with wild-type p53.
The transcription factor PU.1 is often impaired in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Here, we used AML cells that already had low PU.1 levels and further inhibited PU.1 using either RNA interference or, to our knowledge, first-in-class small-molecule inhibitors of PU.1 that we developed specifically to allosterically interfere with PU.1-chromatin binding through interaction with the DNA minor groove that flanks PU.1-binding motifs. These small molecules of the heterocyclic diamidine family disrupted the interaction of PU.1 with target gene promoters and led to downregulation of canonical PU.1 transcriptional targets. shRNA or small-molecule inhibition of PU.1 in AML cells from either PU.1lo mutant mice or human patients with AML-inhibited cell growth and clonogenicity and induced apoptosis. In murine and human AML (xeno)transplantation models, treatment with our PU.1 inhibitors decreased tumor burden and resulted in increased survival. Thus, our study provides proof of concept that PU.1 inhibition has potential as a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of AML and for the development of small-molecule inhibitors of PU.1.