Chi Wai Eric So

King's College London, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (53)632.09 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Transcriptional deregulation plays a major role in acute myeloid leukemia, and therefore identification of epigenetic modifying enzymes essential for the maintenance of oncogenic transcription programs holds the key to better understanding of the biology and designing effective therapeutic strategies for the disease. Here we provide experimental evidence for the functional involvement and therapeutic potential of targeting PRMT1, an H4R3 methyltransferase, in various MLL and non-MLL leukemias. PRMT1 is necessary but not sufficient for leukemic transformation, which requires co-recruitment of KDM4C, an H3K9 demethylase, by chimeric transcription factors to mediate epigenetic reprogramming. Pharmacological inhibition of KDM4C/PRMT1 suppresses transcription and transformation ability of MLL fusions and MOZ-TIF2, revealing a tractable aberrant epigenetic circuitry mediated by KDM4C and PRMT1 in acute leukemia.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Cancer Cell
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    ABSTRACT: Leukemogenesis occurs under hypoxic conditions within the bone marrow (BM). Knockdown of key mediators of cellular responses to hypoxia with shRNA, namely hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) or HIF-2α, in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) samples results in their apoptosis and inability to engraft, implicating HIF-1α or HIF-2α as therapeutic targets. However, genetic deletion of Hif-1α has no effect on mouse AML maintenance and may accelerate disease development. Here, we report the impact of conditional genetic deletion of Hif-2α or both Hif-1α and Hif-2α at different stages of leukemogenesis in mice. Deletion of Hif-2α accelerates development of leukemic stem cells (LSCs) and shortens AML latency initiated by Mll-AF9 and its downstream effectors Meis1 and Hoxa9. Notably, the accelerated initiation of AML caused by Hif-2α deletion is further potentiated by Hif-1α codeletion. However, established LSCs lacking Hif-2α or both Hif-1α and Hif-2α propagate AML with the same latency as wild-type LSCs. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of the HIF pathway or HIF-2α knockout using the lentiviral CRISPR-Cas9 system in human established leukemic cells with MLL-AF9 translocation have no impact on their functions. We therefore conclude that although Hif-1α and Hif-2α synergize to suppress the development of AML, they are not required for LSC maintenance.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2015 · Journal of Experimental Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is mostly driven by oncogenic transcription factors, which have been classically viewed as intractable targets using small-molecule inhibitor approaches. Here we demonstrate that AML driven by repressive transcription factors, including AML1-ETO (encoded by the fusion oncogene RUNX1-RUNX1T1) and PML-RARα fusion oncoproteins (encoded by PML-RARA) are extremely sensitive to poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibition, in part owing to their suppressed expression of key homologous recombination (HR)-associated genes and their compromised DNA-damage response (DDR). In contrast, leukemia driven by mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL, encoded by KMT2A) fusions with dominant transactivation ability is proficient in DDR and insensitive to PARP inhibition. Intriguingly, genetic or pharmacological inhibition of an MLL downstream target, HOXA9, which activates expression of various HR-associated genes, impairs DDR and sensitizes MLL leukemia to PARP inhibitors (PARPis). Conversely, HOXA9 overexpression confers PARPi resistance to AML1-ETO and PML-RARα transformed cells. Together, these studies describe a potential utility of PARPi-induced synthetic lethality for leukemia treatment and reveal a novel molecular mechanism governing PARPi sensitivity in AML.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Nature Medicine
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    ABSTRACT: While the nucleoporin 98-retinoic acid receptor gamma (NUP98-RARG) is the first RARG fusion protein found in acute leukemia, its roles and the molecular basis in oncogenic transformation are currently unknown. Here we showed that homodimeric NUP98-RARG not only acquired unique nuclear localization pattern and ability of recruiting both RXRA and wild-type NUP98, but also exhibited similar transcriptional properties as RARA-fusions found in APL. Using murine bone marrow retroviral transduction/transformation assay, we further demonstrated that NUP98-RARG fusion protein had gained transformation ability of primary hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, which was critically dependent on the C-terminal GLFG domain of NUP98 and the DNA binding domain of RARG. In contrast to other NUP98 fusions, cells transformed by the NUP98-RARG fusion were extremely sensitive to ATRA treatment. Interestingly, while pan-RXR agonists, SR11237 and LGD1069 could specifically inhibit NUP98-RARG transformed cells, mutation of the RXR interaction domain in NUP98-RARG had little effect on its transformation, revealing that therapeutic functions of rexinoid can be independent of the direct biochemical interaction between RXR and the fusion. Together, these results indicate that deregulation of the retinoid/rexinoid signaling pathway plays a major role and may represent a potential therapeutic target for NUP98-RARG mediated transformation.Leukemia accepted article preview online, 16 December 2014. doi:10.1038/leu.2014.334.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2014 · Leukemia
  • Bernd B Zeisig · Chi Wai Eric So
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    ABSTRACT: SIRT1 inhibition facilitates elimination of CML stem cells by Imatinib, in part via p53 activation. In this issue of Cell Stem Cell, Li et al. (2014) demonstrate a similar role for SIRT1 inhibition in eradicating FLT3-ITD AML stem cells, potentially through a positive feedback loop with c-MYC, highlighting SIRT1 as a potential target in combination cancer therapy.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Cell Stem Cell
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    M F Arteaga · J-H Mikesch · T-K Fung · C W E So
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    ABSTRACT: Transcriptional deregulation plays a key role in a large array of cancers, and successful targeting of oncogenic transcription factors that sustain diseases has been a holy grail in the field. Acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) driven by chimeric transcription factors encoding retinoic acid receptor alpha fusions is the paradigm of targeted cancer therapy, in which the application of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) treatments have markedly transformed this highly fatal cancer to a highly manageable disease. The extremely high complete remission rate resulted from targeted therapies using ATRA in combination with arsenic trioxide will likely be able to minimise or even totally eliminate the use of highly toxic chemotherapeutic agents in APL. In this article, we will review the molecular basis and the upcoming challenges of these targeted therapies in APL, and discuss the recent advance in our understanding of epigenetics underlying ATRA response and their potential use to further improve treatment response and overcome resistance.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 23 September 2014; doi:10.1038/bjc.2014.374
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · British Journal of Cancer
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    Maria Teresa Esposito · Chi Wai Eric So
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    ABSTRACT: DNA damage repair mechanisms are vital to maintain genomic integrity. Mutations in genes involved in the DNA damage response (DDR) can increase the risk of developing cancer. In recent years, a variety of polymorphisms in DDR genes have been associated with increased risk of developing acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or of disease relapse. Moreover, a growing body of literature has indicated that epigenetic silencing of DDR genes could contribute to the leukemogenic process. In addition, a variety of AML oncogenes have been shown to induce replication and oxidative stress leading to accumulation of DNA damage, which affects the balance between proliferation and differentiation. Conversely, upregulation of DDR genes can provide AML cells with escape mechanisms to the DDR anticancer barrier and induce chemotherapy resistance. The current review summarizes the DDR pathways in the context of AML and describes how aberrant DNA damage response can affect AML pathogenesis, disease progression, and resistance to standard chemotherapy, and how defects in DDR pathways may provide a new avenue for personalized therapeutic strategies in AML.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Chromosoma
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    ABSTRACT: FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is expressed in human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) but its role during embryogenesis is unclear. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), internal tandem duplication (ITD) of FLT3 at the juxtamembrane (JMD) and tyrosine kinase (TKD) domains (FLT3-ITD+) occurs in 30% patients and is associated with inferior clinical prognosis. TKD mutations (FLT3-TKD+) occur in 5% cases. We made use of zebrafish to examine the role of flt3 in developmental hematopoiesis and model human FLT3-ITD+ and FLT3-TKD+ AML. Zebrafish flt3 JMD and TKD were remarkably similar to their mammalian orthologs. Morpholino knock-down significantly reduced the expression of l-plastin (pan-leukocyte), csf1r and mpeg1 (macrophage) as well as that of c-myb (definitive HSPC), lck and rag1 (T-lymphocyte). Expressing human FLT3-ITD in zebrafish embryos resulted in expansion and clustering of myeloid cells (pu.1+, mpo+, and cebpα+) which were ameliorated by AC220 and associated with stat5, erk1/2, and akt phosphorylation. Human FLT3-TKD (D835Y) induced significant, albeit modest, myeloid expansion resistant to AC220. This study provides novel insight to the role of flt3 during hematopoiesis and establishes a zebrafish model of FLT3-ITD+ and FLT3-TKD+ AML that may facilitate high throughput screening of novel and personalized agents.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · Blood
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    Tsz Kan Fung · Anskar Yu Hung Leung · Chi Wai Eric So
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    ABSTRACT: Although CEBPA mutations are among the most common genetic abnormalities in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the transformation mechanism remains largely obscure. In this issue of Cancer Cell, Zhang and colleagues report that SOX4 is a direct target and crucial mediator of C/EBPα mutants in AML, revealing a potential therapeutic avenue.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Cancer cell
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    ABSTRACT: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common malignant myeloid disorder of progenitor cells in myeloid hematopoiesis and exemplifies a genetically heterogeneous disease. The patients with AML also show a heterogeneous response to therapy. Although all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) has been successfully introduced to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), it is rather ineffective in non-APL AML. In our present study, 1200 off-patent marketed drugs and natural compounds that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were screened for anti-leukemia activity using the retrovirus transduction/transformation assay (RTTA). Furazolidone (FZD) was shown to inhibit bone marrow transformation mediated by several leukemia fusion proteins, including AML1-ETO. Furazolidone has been used in the treatment of certain bacterial and protozoan infections in human and animals for more than sixty years. We investigated the anti-leukemic activity of FZD in a series of AML cells. FZD displayed potent antiproliferative properties at submicromolar concentrations and induced apoptosis in AML cell lines. Importantly, FZD treatment of certain AML cells induced myeloid cell differentiation by morphology and flow cytometry for CD11b expression. Furthermore, FZD treatment resulted in increased stability of tumor suppressor p53 protein in AML cells. Our in vitro results suggest furazolidone as a novel therapeutic strategy in AML patients.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · PLoS ONE
  • Tsz Kan Fung · Chi Wai Eric So

    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Oncotarget
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    Tsz Kan Fung · Chi Wai Eric So

    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Oncotarget
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    Bernd B Zeisig · Chi Wai Eric So
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    ABSTRACT: Identification of tractable signaling molecules essential for leukemogenesis facilitates the development of effective targeted therapies. In this issue of Cancer Cell, Miller and colleagues report that Integrin Beta 3, which is largely dispensable for normal hematopoiesis, plays an important role and is a potential therapeutic target in mixed lineage leukemia.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2013 · Cancer cell
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    ABSTRACT: While all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) treatment in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) has been the paradigm of targeted therapy for oncogenic transcription factors, the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown, and a significant number of patients still relapse and become ATRA resistant. We identified the histone demethylase PHF8 as a coactivator that is specifically recruited by RARα fusions to activate expression of their downstream targets upon ATRA treatment. Forced expression of PHF8 resensitizes ATRA-resistant APL cells, whereas its downregulation confers resistance. ATRA sensitivity depends on the enzymatic activity and phosphorylation status of PHF8, which can be pharmacologically manipulated to resurrect ATRA sensitivity to resistant cells. These findings provide important molecular insights into ATRA response and a promising avenue for overcoming ATRA resistance.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Cancer cell
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    ABSTRACT: The INK4/ARF locus regulates senescence and is frequently altered in cancer. In normal cells, the INK4/ARF locus is found silenced by Polycomb repressive complexes (PRCs). Which are the mechanisms responsible for the recruitment of PRCs to INK4/ARF and their other target genes remains unclear. In a genetic screen for transcription factors regulating senescence, we identified the homeodomain-containing protein HLX1 (H2.0-like homeobox 1). Expression of HLX1 extends cellular lifespan and blunts oncogene-induced senescence. Using quantitative proteomics, we identified p16INK4a as the key target mediating the effects of HLX1 in senescence. HLX1 represses p16INK4a transcription by recruiting PRCs and HDAC1. This mechanism has broader implications, as HLX1 also regulates a subset of PRC targets besides p16INK4a. Finally, sampling members of the Homeobox family, we identified multiple genes with ability to repress p16INK4a. Among them, we found HOXA9 (Homeobox A9), a putative oncogene in leukaemia, which also recruits PRCs and HDAC1 to regulate p16INK4a. Our results reveal an unexpected and conserved interplay between homeodomain-containing proteins and PRCs with implications in senescence, development and cancer.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · The EMBO Journal
  • Bon Ham Yip · Chi Wai Eric So
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    ABSTRACT: Transcription factors critical for normal hematopoietic stem cell functions are frequently mutated in acute leukemia leading to an aberrant re-programming of normal hematopoietic progenitor/stem cells into leukemic stem cells. Among them, re-arrangements of the mixed lineage leukemia gene (MLL), including chimeric fusion, partial tandem duplication (PTD), amplification and internal exonic deletion, represent one of the most common recurring oncogenic events and associate with very poor prognosis in human leukemias. Extensive research on wild type MLL and MLL-fusions has significant advanced our knowledge about their functions in normal and malignant hematopoiesis, which also provides a framework for the underlying pathogenic role of MLL re-arrangements in human leukemias. In contrast, research progress on MLL-PTD, MLL amplification and internal exonic deletion remains stagnant, in particular for the last two abnormalities where mouse model is not yet available. In this article, we will review the key features of both wild-type and re-arranged MLL proteins with particular focuses on MLL-PTD and MLL amplification for their roles in normal and malignant hematopoiesis.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Experimental Biology and Medicine
  • Tsz Kan Fung · Anskar Y. H. Leung · Chi Wai Eric So
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    ABSTRACT: Components of the canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway are frequently mutated in cancer, and their deregulation has also been recently associated with the development of cancer stem cells (CSCs). Elevation of β-catenin activity is critical for blast transformation and drug resistant property of the stem cells in both chronic and acute myeloid leukemia, although the underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown. In this chapter, we will focus on the role of Wnt/β-catenin pathway in normal hematopoietic and leukemic stem cells. We will also review currently available small molecule inhibitors that target the canonical Wnt signaling, and propose their potential applications in combination with chemotherapy for cancer treatment.
    No preview · Chapter · Jan 2013
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    Preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Cancer cell
  • C.W.E. So

    No preview · Article · Jul 2012 · European Journal of Cancer
  • Tsz K Fung · Arnaud Gandillet · Chi W.E. So
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    ABSTRACT: Leukemia carrying mutation of the mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) gene is particularly refractory to current treatment, and is associated with frequent relapse. We will review the biology of MLL leukemia, and explore the potential of targeting multiple signaling pathways deregulated in MLL leukemic stem cells (LSCs). Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) plays a critical role in mediating Hox/MEIS1 transcriptional program and its inhibition shows promise in suppressing leukemia carrying MLL fusions or aberrant Hox expression. However, recent evidence indicates that GSK3 inhibition can be overcome by hyperactivation of the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in MLL LSCs, whereas suppression of β-catenin resensitizes MLL LSCs to the GSK3 inhibitor treatment. These results suggest a differential GSK3 dependence in different subsets of leukemic populations during disease development. On the basis of the results from preclinical model studies, a combination treatment targeting both GSK3 and the canonical Wnt signaling pathway emerges as a promising avenue to eradicate MLL LSCs. Future effort in identifying the key tractable components along these signaling pathways will be critical for the development of effective inhibitors to target this aggressive disease.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2012 · Current opinion in hematology

Publication Stats

2k Citations
632.09 Total Impact Points

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  • 2010-2016
    • King's College London
      • Division of Cancer Studies
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2013
    • Baylor College of Medicine
      Houston, Texas, United States
  • 2009-2012
    • ICL
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2006-2011
    • Institute of Cancer Research
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2002-2007
    • Stanford University
      Stanford, California, United States
  • 1997-2004
    • The University of Hong Kong
      • Department of Pathology
      Hong Kong, Hong Kong