BACKGROUND. The human bone marrow (BM) niche contains a population of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) that provide physical support and regulate hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) homeostasis. β-Thalassemia (BT) is a hereditary disorder characterized by altered hemoglobin beta-chain synthesis amenable to allogeneic HSC transplantation and HSC gene therapy. Iron overload (IO) is a common complication in BT patients affecting several organs. However, data on the BM stromal compartment are scarce. METHODS. MSCs were isolated and characterized from BM aspirates of healthy donors (HDs) and BT patients. The state of IO was assessed and correlated with the presence of primitive MSCs in vitro and in vivo. Hematopoietic supportive capacity of MSCs was evaluated by transwell migration assay and 2D coculture of MSCs with human CD34+ HSCs. In vivo, the ability of MSCs to facilitate HSC engraftment was tested in a xenogenic transplant model, whereas the capacity to sustain human hematopoiesis was evaluated in humanized ossicle models. RESULTS. We report that, despite iron chelation, BT BM contains high levels of iron and ferritin, indicative of iron accumulation in the BM niche. We found a pauperization of the most primitive MSC pool caused by increased ROS production in vitro which impaired MSC stemness properties. We confirmed a reduced frequency of primitive MSCs in vivo in BT patients. We also discovered a weakened antioxidative response and diminished expression of BM niche–associated genes in BT-MSCs. This caused a functional impairment in MSC hematopoietic supportive capacity in vitro and in cotransplantation models. In addition, BT-MSCs failed to form a proper BM niche in humanized ossicle models. CONCLUSION. Our results suggest an impairment in the mesenchymal compartment of BT BM niche and highlight the need for novel strategies to target the niche to reduce IO and oxidative stress before transplantation. FUNDING. This work was supported by the SR-TIGET Core grant from Fondazione Telethon and by Ricerca Corrente.
Stefania Crippa, Valeria Rossella, Annamaria Aprile, Laura Silvestri, Silvia Rivis, Samantha Scaramuzza, Stefania Pirroni, Maria Antonietta Avanzini, Luca Basso-Ricci, Raisa Jofra Hernandez, Marco Zecca, Sarah Marktel, Fabio Ciceri, Alessandro Aiuti, Giuliana Ferrari, Maria Ester Bernardo
The development and function of stem and progenitor cells that produce blood cells are vital in physiology. GATA2 mutations cause GATA-2-deficiency syndrome involving immunodeficiency, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). GATA-2 physiological activities necessitate that it be strictly regulated, and cell type-specific enhancers fulfill this role. The +9.5 intronic enhancer harbors multiple conserved cis-elements, and germline mutations of these cis-elements are pathogenic in humans. Since mechanisms underlying how GATA2 enhancer disease mutations impact hematopoiesis and pathology are unclear, we generated mouse models of the enhancer mutations. While a multi-motif mutant was embryonic lethal, a single-nucleotide Ets motif mutant was viable, and steady-state hematopoiesis was normal. However, the Ets motif mutation abrogated stem/progenitor cell regeneration following stress. These results reveal a new mechanism in human genetics in which a disease predisposition mutation inactivates enhancer regenerative activity, while sparing developmental activity. Mutational sensitization to stress that instigates hematopoietic failure constitutes a paradigm for GATA-2-deficiency syndrome and other contexts of GATA-2-dependent pathogenesis.
Alexandra A. Soukup, Ye Zheng, Charu Mehta, Jun Wu, Peng Liu, Miao Cao, Inga Hofmann, Yun Zhou, Jing Zhang, Kirby D. Johnson, Kyunghee Choi, Sunduz Keles, Emery H. Bresnick
We investigated how pathological changes in newborn hippocampal dentate granule cells (DGCs) lead to epilepsy. Using a rabies virus–mediated retrograde tracing system and a designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs (DREADD) chemogenetic method, we demonstrated that newborn hippocampal DGCs are required for the formation of epileptic neural circuits and the induction of spontaneous recurrent seizures (SRS). A rabies virus–mediated mapping study revealed that aberrant circuit integration of hippocampal newborn DGCs formed excessive de novo excitatory connections as well as recurrent excitatory loops, allowing the hippocampus to produce, amplify, and propagate excessive recurrent excitatory signals. In epileptic mice, DREADD-mediated–specific suppression of hippocampal newborn DGCs dramatically reduced epileptic spikes and SRS in an inducible and reversible manner. Conversely, specific activation of hippocampal newborn DGCs increased both epileptic spikes and SRS. Our study reveals an essential role for hippocampal newborn DGCs in the formation and function of epileptic neural circuits, providing critical insights into DGCs as a potential therapeutic target for treating epilepsy.
Qi-Gang Zhou, Ashley D. Nemes, Daehoon Lee, Eun Jeoung Ro, Jing Zhang, Amy S. Nowacki, Susan M. Dymecki, Imad M. Najm, Hoonkyo Suh
Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Myelodysplastic Syndromes are associated with disease-initiating stem cells that are not eliminated by conventional therapies. Transcriptomic analysis of stem and progenitor populations in MDS and AML demonstrated overexpression of STAT3 that was validated in an independent cohort. STAT3 overexpression was predictive of a shorter survival and worse clinical features in a large MDS cohort. High STAT3 expression signature in MDS CD34+ cells was similar to known pre-leukemic gene signatures. Functionally, STAT3 inhibition by a clinical, antisense oligonucleotide, AZD9150, led to reduced viability and increased apoptosis in leukemic cell lines. AZD9150 was rapidly incorporated by primary MDS/AML stem and progenitor cells and led to increased hematopoietic differentiation. STAT3 knockdown also impaired leukemic growth in vivo and led to decreased expression of MCL1 and other oncogenic genes in malignant cells. These studies demonstrate that STAT3 is an adverse prognostic factor in MDS/AML and provide a pre-clinical rationale for studies using AZD9150 in these diseases.
Aditi Shastri, Gaurav Choudhary, Margarida Teixeira, Shanisha Gordon-Mitchell, Nandini Ramachandra, Lumie Bernard, Sanchari Bhattacharyya, Robert Lopez, Kith Pradhan, Orsolya Giricz, Goutham Ravipati, Li-Fan Wong, Sally Cole, Tushar D. Bhagat, Jonathan Feld, Yosman Dhar, Matthias Bartenstein, Victor J. Thiruthuvanathan, Amittha Wickrema, B. Hilda Ye, David A. Frank, Andrea Pellagatti, Jacqueline Boultwood, Tianyuan Zhou, Youngsoo Kim, A. Robert MacLeod, Pearlie K. Epling-Burnette, Minwei Ye, Patricia McCoon, Richard Woessner, Ulrich Steidl, Britta Will, Amit K. Verma
ASXL1 is frequently mutated in myeloid malignancies and is known to co-occur with other gene mutations. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the leukemogenesis associated with ASXL1 and cooperating mutations remain to be elucidated. Here we report that Asxl1 loss cooperated with haploinsufficiency of Nf1, a negative regulator of the RAS signaling pathway, to accelerate the development of myeloid leukemia in mice. Loss of Asxl1 and Nf1 in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells resulted in a gain-of-function transcriptional activation of multiple pathways critical for leukemogenesis, such as MYC, NRAS, and BRD4. The hyperactive MYC and BRD4 transcription programs were correlated with elevated H3K4 tri-methylation at the promoter regions of genes involving these pathways. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of both MAPK pathway and BET bromodomain prevented leukemia initiation and inhibited disease progression in Asxl1Δ/Δ;Nf1Δ/Δ mice. Concomitant mutations of ASXL1 and RAS pathway genes were associated with aggressive progression of myeloid malignancies in patients. This study sheds light on the understanding of the cooperative effect between epigenetic alterations and signaling pathways in accelerating the progression of myeloid malignancies and provides a rational therapeutic strategy for the treatment of myeloid malignancies with ASXL1 and RAS pathway gene mutations.
Peng Zhang, Fuhong He, Jie Bai, Shohei Yamamoto, Shi Chen, Lin Zhang, Mengyao Sheng, Lei Zhang, Ying Guo, Na Man, Hui Yang, Suyun Wang, Tao Cheng, Stephen D. Nimer, Yuan Zhou, Mingjiang Xu, Qian-Fei Wang, Feng-Chun Yang
Intestinal homeostasis depends on a slowly proliferating stem cell compartment in crypt cells, followed by rapid proliferation of committed progenitor cells in the transit amplifying (TA) compartment. The balance between proliferation and differentiation in intestinal stem cells (ISCs) is regulated by Wnt/β-catenin signaling, although the mechanism remains unclear. We previously targeted PORCN, an enzyme essential for all Wnt secretion, and demonstrated that stromal production of Wnts was required for intestinal homeostasis. Here, a PORCN inhibitor was used to acutely suppress Wnt signaling. Unexpectedly, the treatment induced an initial burst of proliferation in the stem cell compartment of the small intestine, due to conversion of ISCs into TA cells with a loss of intrinsic ISC self-renewal. This process involved MAPK pathway activation, as the proliferating cells in the base of the intestinal crypt contained phosphorylated ERK1/2, and a MEK inhibitor attenuated the proliferation of ISCs and their differentiation into TA cells. These findings suggest a role for Wnt signaling in suppressing the MAPK pathway at the crypt base to maintain a pool of ISCs. The interaction between Wnt and MAPK pathways in vivo has potential therapeutic applications in cancer and regenerative medicine.
Zahra Kabiri, Gediminas Greicius, Hamed Zaribafzadeh, Amanda Hemmerich, Christopher M. Counter, David M. Virshup
PRDM16 is a transcriptional co-regulator involved in translocations in acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndromes and T acute lymphoblastic leukemia that is highly expressed in and required for the maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), and can be aberrantly expressed in AML. Prdm16 is expressed as full-length (fPrdm16) and short (sPrdm16) isoforms, the latter lacking the N-terminal PR-domain. The role of both isoforms in normal and malignant hematopoiesis is unclear. We show here that fPrdm16 was critical for HSC maintenance, induced multiple genes involved in GTPase signaling and repressed inflammation, while sPrdm16 supported B-cell development biased towards marginal zone B-cells and induced an inflammatory signature. In a mouse model of human MLL-AF9 leukemia fPrdm16 extended latency, while sPrdm16 shortened latency and induced a strong inflammatory signature, including several cytokines and chemokines that are associated with myelodysplasia and with a worse prognosis in human AML. Finally, in human NPM1-mutant and in MLL-translocated AML high expression of PRDM16, which negatively impacts outcome, was associated with inflammatory gene expression, thus corroborating the mouse data. Our observations demonstrate distinct roles for Prdm16 isoforms in normal HSCs and AML, and identify sPrdm16 as one of the drivers of prognostically adverse inflammation in leukemia.
David J. Corrigan, Larry L. Luchsinger, Mariana Justino de Almeida, Linda J. Williams, Alexandros Strikoudis, Hans-Willem Snoeck
For gene therapy of gain-of-function autosomal dominant diseases, either correcting or deleting the disease allele is potentially curative. To test whether there may be an advantage of one approach over the other for WHIM (warts, hypogammaglobulinemia, infections and myelokathexis) syndrome — a primary immunodeficiency disorder caused by gain-of-function autosomal dominant mutations in chemokine receptor CXCR4 — we performed competitive transplantation experiments using both lethally irradiated wild-type (Cxcr4+/+) and unconditioned WHIM (Cxcr4+/w) recipient mice. In both models, hematopoietic reconstitution was markedly superior using bone marrow (BM) cells from donors hemizygous for Cxcr4 (Cxcr4+/o) compared with BM cells from Cxcr4+/+ donors. Remarkably, only ~6% Cxcr4+/o hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) chimerism post-transplantation in unconditioned Cxcr4+/w recipient BM supported >70% long-term donor myeloid chimerism in blood and corrected myeloid cell deficiency in blood. Donor Cxcr4+/o HSCs differentiated normally and did not undergo exhaustion as late as 465 days post-transplantation. Thus, disease allele deletion resulting in Cxcr4 haploinsufficiency was superior to disease allele repair in a mouse model of gene therapy for WHIM syndrome, allowing correction of leukopenia without recipient conditioning.
Ji-Liang Gao, Erin Yim, Marie Siwicki, Alexander Yang, Qian Liu, Ari Azani, Albert Owusu-Ansah, David H. McDermott, Philip M. Murphy
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a degenerative motor neuron (MN) disease caused by loss of functional SMN protein due to SMN1 gene mutations, is a leading cause of infant mortality. Increasing SMN levels ameliorates the disease phenotype and is unanimously accepted as a therapeutic approach for SMA patients. The ubiquitin/proteasome system is known to regulate SMN protein levels; however whether autophagy controls SMN levels remains poorly explored. Here we show that SMN protein is degraded by autophagy. Pharmacological and genetic inhibition of autophagy increase SMN levels, while induction of autophagy decreases SMN. SMN degradation occurs via its interaction with the autophagy adapter p62/SQSTM1. We also show that SMA neurons display reduced autophagosome clearance, increased p62/ubiquitinated protein levels, and hyperactivated mTORC1 signaling. Importantly, reducing p62 levels markedly increases SMN and its binding partner gemin2, promotes MN survival and extends lifespan in fly and mouse SMA models revealing p62 as a new potential therapeutic target to treat SMA.
Natalia Rodriguez-Muela, Andrey Parkhitko, Tobias Grass, Rebecca M. Gibbs, Erika M. Norabuena, Norbert Perrimon, Rajat Singh, Lee L. Rubin
Leukemia-initiating cells (LICs) are responsible for the initiation, development, and relapse of leukemia. The identification of novel therapeutic LIC targets is critical to curing leukemia. In this report, we reveal that junctional adhesion molecule 3 (JAM3) is highly enriched in both mouse and human LICs. Leukemogenesis is almost completely abrogated upon Jam3 deletion during serial transplantations in an MLL-AF9–induced murine acute myeloid leukemia model. In contrast, Jam3 deletion does not affect the functions of mouse hematopoietic stem cells. Moreover, knockdown of JAM3 leads to a dramatic decrease in the proliferation of both human leukemia cell lines and primary LICs. JAM3 directly associates with LRP5 to activate the downstream PDK1/AKT pathway, followed by the downregulation of GSK3β and activation of β-catenin/CCND1 signaling, to maintain the self-renewal ability and cell cycle entry of LICs. Thus, JAM3 may serve as a functional LIC marker and play an important role in the maintenance of LIC stemness through unexpected LRP5/PDK1/AKT/GSK3β/β-catenin/CCND1 signaling pathways but not via its canonical role in cell junctions and migration. JAM3 may be an ideal therapeutic target for the eradication of LICs without influencing normal hematopoiesis.
Yaping Zhang, Fangzhen Xia, Xiaoye Liu, Zhuo Yu, Li Xie, Ligen Liu, Chiqi Chen, Haishan Jiang, Xiaoxin Hao, Xiaoxiao He, Feifei Zhang, Hao Gu, Jun Zhu, Haitao Bai, Cheng Cheng Zhang, Guo-Qiang Chen, Junke Zheng