BCR

Gene Summary

Gene:BCR; breakpoint cluster region
Aliases: ALL, CML, PHL, BCR1, D22S11, D22S662
Location:22q11.23
Summary:A reciprocal translocation between chromosomes 22 and 9 produces the Philadelphia chromosome, which is often found in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia. The chromosome 22 breakpoint for this translocation is located within the BCR gene. The translocation produces a fusion protein which is encoded by sequence from both BCR and ABL, the gene at the chromosome 9 breakpoint. Although the BCR-ABL fusion protein has been extensively studied, the function of the normal BCR gene product is not clear. The protein has serine/threonine kinase activity and is a GTPase-activating protein for p21rac. Two transcript variants encoding different isoforms have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:breakpoint cluster region protein
HPRD
Source:NCBIAccessed: 20 August, 2015

Ontology:

What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 20 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 20 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (9)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

BCR-ABL Translocation in Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

The t(9;22)(q34;q11) "Philadelphia" translocation is characteristic of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). The translocation results in the "head to tail" fusion of the BCR and ABL1 genes and is present in over 90% of CML cases.

See also: Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) - Clinical and Research information
See also: BCR.htm gene

Latest Publications

Li C, Wang Y, Xu D, et al.
E255K and G250E mutation appearing in a patient with e19a2 chronic myeloid leukemia resistant to imatinib.
Clin Lab. 2015; 61(1-2):183-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) with the e19a2 transcript coding for p230 is a rare disease. ABL1 kinase domain mutations in CML with the e19a2 rearrangement were seldom reported.
METHODS: The clinical characteristics of a 45-year-old Chinese female CML patient with e19a2 BCR/ABL1 transcript were described. The mutation on the ABL gene exons was determined by sequencing the cDNA of the μ-BCR-ABL fusion product.
RESULTS: This patient developed an acquired resistance associated with two p-BCR/ABL1 mutations (E255K and G250E) during treatment with imatinib.
CONCLUSIONS: Here, we report a CML patient with e19a2 transcripts, carrying E255K and G250E mutation and experience of nilotinib treatment. The μ-BCR/ABL1 mutation should be investigated after imatinib treatment failure.

Kęsy J, Januszkiewicz-Lewandowska D
Genes and childhood leukemia.
Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2015; 69:302-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Leukemia is a heterogeneous hematologic malignancy originating from a multipotent hematopoietic stem cell. It ranks among the commonest cancers in childhood and is characterized by excessive proliferation and differentiation block. The process of leukemogenesis is governed by genetic changes at both the cytogenetic and molecular level. According to numerous analyses, a large spectrum of mutations and rearrangements underlying the disease affect essential cellular transduction pathways, genes ensuring proper course of hematopoiesis, oncogenes, tumor suppressors and apoptosis regulators. Common lesions include translocations to T cell receptor (TCR) loci in T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), mutations of transcription factors regulating B-lineage development and cell maturation in B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) (PAX5, TCF3, EBF1, etc.), aberrational disruption of genes coding for transcription factors and coactivators in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) (e.g. CBF) or BCR-ABL1 fusion and activation of multiple kinases in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). These alterations severely impair cell function. Broadening knowledge of the genetic background gives an insight into the pathobiology of a disease and allows for a better understanding of it. An appropriate investigation of genomic events yields diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic implications. Broadening knowledge of the pathogenesis of leukemia seems to be a promising contribution to precise stratification of patients, reducing the toxicity and adverse effects caused by medical intervention, treatment personalization and introduction of targeted therapy accessible to a wide range of patients.

Grimes HL, Meyer SE
A 2-way miRror of red blood cells and leukemia.
Blood. 2015; 125(8):1202-3 [PubMed] Related Publications
In this issue of Blood, the articles by Shaham et al and Wang et al are the first to identify microRNA 486 (miR-486) as a requisite oncomiR and credible therapeutic target in myeloid leukemia of Down syndrome (ML-DS) and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) by showing that these 2 leukemias co-opt miR-486 functions in normal erythroid progenitor progrowth and survival activity.

Skalska-Sadowska J, Januszkiewicz-Lewandowska D, Derwich K, et al.
Ph-negative isolated myeloid sarcoma with NPM1 gene mutation in adolescent with Ph-positive chronic myeloid leukemia in remission after treatment with allogeneic bone marrow transplantation and imatinib mesylate.
Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2015; 62(6):1070-1 [PubMed] Related Publications
Few patients in remission of Ph-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) develop Ph-negative MDS/AML, usually with clonal cytogenetic abnormalities. Isolated Ph-negative myeloid sarcoma (MS) is presented here as a form of such disorder, different from Ph-positive MS establishing CML relapse in blastic phase. We describe 11-year-old male who developed Ph-negative isolated MS with NPM1 mutation, remaining in complete molecular remission of Ph-positive chronic myeloid leukemia treated with allo-HSCT in first chronic phase and with imatinib and donor lymphocyte infusion in molecular relapse. The possible mechanisms of the tumor formation are reviewed with stress on importance of comprehensive molecular/cytogenetic evaluations.

Nakaseko C, Takahashi N, Ishizawa K, et al.
A phase 1/2 study of bosutinib in Japanese adults with Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia.
Int J Hematol. 2015; 101(2):154-64 [PubMed] Related Publications
This phase 1/2 study evaluated the safety and pharmacokinetics (part 1) and efficacy and safety (part 2) of bosutinib in Japanese Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) chronic-phase (CP) or advanced-phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients resistant/intolerant to previous imatinib (2L) or imatinib+dasatinib/nilotinib (3L). Based on dose-limiting toxicities and previous studies, the part 2 bosutinib starting dose was 500 mg/day (n = 63). For CP CML 2L (n = 28), the cumulative major cytogenetic response (MCyR) rate by week 24 was 36 % (primary endpoint); the cumulative major molecular response (MMR) rate through the study was 43 %. Transformation to accelerated/blast phase (AP/BP) was observed in one patient. Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) rates at 96 weeks were 94 and 96 %, respectively. Of seven advanced-phase 2L patients, one had confirmed complete hematologic response at week 84, and one had AP/BP transformation. PFS and OS rates at week 96 were 21 and 43 %. For 3L (n = 11), cumulative MCyR rate by week 24 was 18 %; cumulative MMR rate was 18 %; no transformations occurred. Common non-hematologic adverse events (AEs) were diarrhea (95 %), rash (57 %), and nasopharyngitis (51 %). Sixteen patients discontinued due to adverse events; no deaths occurred within 30 days of the last dose. Bosutinib 500 mg/day demonstrated efficacy and manageable toxicity in Japanese Ph+ CML patients resistant/intolerant to imatinib.

Ye YX, Zhou J, Zhou YH, et al.
Clinical significance of BCR-ABL fusion gene subtypes in chronic myelogenous and acute lymphoblastic leukemias.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(22):9961-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Some reports have suggested that chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients have a higher prevalence of M-bcr than acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients, which show a higher prevalence of m-bcr. However, the relationship between BCR-ABL subtypes and progression of CML and ALL remains unclear.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: 354 CML chronic phase (CML-CP) patients, 26 CML blastic phase (CML-BP) patients and 72 ALL patients before treatment with BCR-ABL positive were recruited for blood routine examination and bone marrow smear cytology. Some 80 CML-CP and 32 ALL patients after imatinib (IM) treatment were followed-up for BCR-ABL relative concentrations detected after treatment for 3, 6 and 9 months and 1 year.
RESULTS: Before treatment, CML-CP patients showed lower BCR-ABL relative concentrations with a higher proportion of M-bcr (42.7%) compared to CML-BP and ALL patients while ALL patients had a higher BCR-ABL relative concentration with high expression of m-bcr (51.4%). Patients with M-bcr demonstrated higher WBC counts than those with m-bcr and the mixed group and higher PLT counts were noted in the CML-CP and ALL groups. After imatinib (IM) treatment, patients with m-bcr showed higher BCR-ABL relative concentrations in both CML-CP and ALL groups.
CONCLUSIONS: This study identified the BCR-ABL gene as an important factor in CML and ALL cases. The M-bcr subtype was associated more with CML while the m-bcr subtype was associated more with ALL. Patients with m-bcr seem to have a poorer response to IM in either CML or ALL patients compared to M-bcr patients.

Wang LS, Li L, Li L, et al.
MicroRNA-486 regulates normal erythropoiesis and enhances growth and modulates drug response in CML progenitors.
Blood. 2015; 125(8):1302-13 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are key regulators of hematopoietic cell differentiation and may contribute to altered growth of leukemic stem cells. Using microarray-based miRNA profiling, we found that miRNA 486 (miR-486) is significantly upregulated in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) compared with normal CD34(+) cells, particularly in the megakaryocyte-erythroid progenitor population. miR-486-5p expression increased during erythroid differentiation of both CML and normal CD34(+) cells. Ectopic miR-486-5p expression enhanced in vitro erythroid differentiation of normal CD34(+) cells, whereas miR-486-5p inhibition suppressed normal CD34(+) cell growth in vitro and in vivo and inhibited erythroid differentiation and erythroid cell survival. The effects of miR-486-5p on hematopoietic cell growth and survival are mediated at least in part via regulation of AKT signaling and FOXO1 expression. Using gene expression and bioinformatics analysis, together with functional screening, we identified several novel miR-486-5p target genes that may modulate erythroid differentiation. We further show that increased miR-486-5p expression in CML progenitors is related to both kinase-dependent and kinase-independent mechanisms. Inhibition of miR-486-5p reduced CML progenitor growth and enhanced apoptosis following imatinib treatment. In conclusion, our studies reveal a novel role for miR-486-5p in regulating normal hematopoiesis and of BCR-ABL-induced miR-486-5p overexpression in modulating CML progenitor growth, survival, and drug sensitivity.

Gniot M, Lewandowski K, Ratajczak B, et al.
Transient presence of clonal chromosomal aberrations in Ph-negative cells in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia remaining in deep molecular response on tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment.
Cancer Genet. 2014 Oct-Dec; 207(10-12):503-10 [PubMed] Related Publications
Advancements in treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) turned this formerly fatal neoplasm into a manageable chronic condition. Therapy with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) often leads to significant reduction of disease burden, known as the deep molecular response (DMR). Herein, we decided to analyze the cohort of CML patients treated in our center with TKIs, who obtain and retain DMR for a period longer than 24 months. The aim of the study was to evaluate the frequency of clonal cytogenetic aberrations in Philadelphia-negative (Ph-) cells in patients with DMR during TKI treatment. The analyzed data was obtained during routine molecular and cytogenetic treatment monitoring, using G-banded trypsin and Giemsa stain (GTG) karyotyping and reverse transcription quantitative PCR. We noticed that approximately 50% of patients (28 of 55) in DMR had, at some follow-up point, transient changes in the karyotype of their Ph- bone marrow cells. In 9.1% of cases (5 of 55), the presence of the same aberrations was observed at different time points. The most frequently appearing aberrations were monosomies of chromosomes 19, 20, 21, and Y. Statistical analysis suggests that the occurrence of such abnormalities in CML patients correlates with the TKI treatment time.

Bănescu C, Trifa AP, Voidăzan S, et al.
CAT, GPX1, MnSOD, GSTM1, GSTT1, and GSTP1 genetic polymorphisms in chronic myeloid leukemia: a case-control study.
Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2014; 2014:875861 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Oxidative damage at the DNA level may be promoted by high levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to genomic instability and increased neoplastic risk. Superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPX), and catalase (CAT) enzymes are implicated in the prevention of DNA damage by ROS. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationships between CAT C262T, GPX1 Pro198Leu, MnSOD Ala16Val, GSTM1, GSTT1, and GSTP1 Ile105Val polymorphisms and the risk of CML. No association was observed between CML and variant genotypes of GPX1, MnSOD, GSTM1, and GSTT1 polymorphisms in any of the investigated cases. Our study suggests that the homozygous variant genotype of the GSTP1 Ile105Val gene polymorphisms may be associated with the risk of developing CML (OR = 2.5; 95% CI = 1.08-5.7; P value = 0.02), while the heterozygous genotype of the CAT C262T polymorphism seems to have a protective effect against CML (OR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.39-0.89, P value = 0.01). In most cases, no association was found between laboratory parameters and prognostic factors and the variant genotype of investigated gene polymorphisms. We concluded that CAT, GPX, MnSOD, GSTM1, and GSTT1 gene polymorphisms are not associated with the risk of CML. Variant genotype of the GSTP1 Ile105Val gene polymorphisms may contribute to the risk of developing CML.

Erba HP
Molecular monitoring to improve outcomes in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase: importance of achieving treatment-free remission.
Am J Hematol. 2015; 90(3):242-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Imatinib was the first BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) developed for the treatment of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML); subsequently, the introduction of more potent BCR-ABL1 TKIs has raised expectations regarding the speed and depth of response. This review discusses how molecular monitoring is being used as an integral part of the treatment regimen to achieve improved outcomes in patients with CML. The long-term prognostic implications of achieving early molecular response to TKI therapy and the feasibility of maintaining treatment-free remission will also be discussed in light of current clinical data.

Mian AA, Rafiei A, Haberbosch I, et al.
PF-114, a potent and selective inhibitor of native and mutated BCR/ABL is active against Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) leukemias harboring the T315I mutation.
Leukemia. 2015; 29(5):1104-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Targeting BCR/ABL with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) is a proven concept for the treatment of Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) leukemias. Resistance attributable to either kinase mutations in BCR/ABL or nonmutational mechanisms remains the major clinical challenge. With the exception of ponatinib, all approved TKIs are unable to inhibit the 'gatekeeper' mutation T315I. However, a broad spectrum of kinase inhibition increases the off-target effects of TKIs and may be responsible for cardiovascular issues of ponatinib. Thus, there is a need for more selective options for the treatment of resistant Ph+ leukemias. PF-114 is a novel TKI developed with the specifications of (i) targeting T315I and other resistance mutations in BCR/ABL; (ii) achieving a high selectivity to improve safety; and (iii) overcoming nonmutational resistance in Ph+ leukemias. PF-114 inhibited BCR/ABL and clinically important mutants including T315I at nanomolar concentrations. It suppressed primary Ph+ acute lymphatic leukemia-derived long-term cultures that either displayed nonmutational resistance or harbor the T315I. In BCR/ABL- or BCR/ABL-T315I-driven murine leukemia as well as in xenograft models of primary Ph+ leukemia harboring the T315I, PF-114 significantly prolonged survival to a similar extent as ponatinib. Our work supports clinical evaluation of PF-114 for the treatment of resistant Ph+ leukemia.

Han L, Wang Y, Guo X, et al.
Downregulation of MDR1 gene by cepharanthine hydrochloride is related to the activation of c-Jun/JNK in K562/ADR cells.
Biomed Res Int. 2014; 2014:164391 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The purpose of the study was to determine the signal transduction mechanism of cepharanthine hydrochloride (CH) on reversing tumor multidrug resistance. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis were used to determine the effects of CH on the expression of MDR1 mRNA and P-glycoprotein in K562/ADR cells when CH was used alone and combined with SP600125, a JNK inhibitor, to explore the effects of CH on JNK pathway. Western blot analysis was used to determine the effects of CH on c-Jun protein expression and phosphorylation, to explore the regulating effects of CH on c-Jun and phosphorylated c-Jun (p-c-Jun) proteins. Our results showed that the inhibitory effect of CH on MDR1 mRNA increased with the concentrations of CH (5.0, 10.0, and 20.0 μM) and the inhibitory effects of CH on MDR1 mRNA and P-glycoprotein increased with the incubation time of CH (0, 12, 24, 36, and 48 hours). The inhibitory effect was weakened after CH combined with SP600125. The expressions of c-Jun and p-c-Jun proteins increased with the incubation time of CH (0, 6, 12, and 24 hours). These findings suggest that CH downregulated the expressions of MDR1 mRNA and P-glycoprotein in a time and concentration manner; the mechanism may be mediated via activating c-Jun/JNK pathway.

Machova Polakova K, Kulvait V, Benesova A, et al.
Next-generation deep sequencing improves detection of BCR-ABL1 kinase domain mutations emerging under tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia patients in chronic phase.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2015; 141(5):887-99 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Here, we studied whether amplicon next-generation deep sequencing (NGS) could improve the detection of emerging BCR-ABL1 kinase domain mutations in chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients under tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) treatment and discussed the clinical relevance of such sensitive mutational detection.
METHODS: For NGS data evaluation including extraction of biologically relevant low-level variants from background error noise, we established and applied a robust and versatile bioinformatics approach.
RESULTS: Results from a retrospective longitudinal analysis of 135 samples of 15 CML patients showed that NGS could have revealed emerging resistant mutants 2-11 months earlier than conventional sequencing. Interestingly, in cases who later failed first-line imatinib treatment, NGS revealed that TKI-resistant mutations were already detectable at the time of major or deeper molecular response. Identification of emerging mutations by NGS was mirrored by BCR-ABL1 transcript level expressed either fluctuations around 0.1 %(IS) or by slight transcript level increase. NGS also allowed tracing mutations that emerged during second-line TKI therapy back to the time of switchover. Compound mutants could be detected in three cases, but were not found to outcompete single mutants.
CONCLUSIONS: This work points out, that next-generation deep sequencing, coupled with a robust bioinformatics approach for mutation calling, may be just in place to ensure reliable detection of emerging BCR-ABL1 mutations, allowing early therapy switch and selection of the most appropriate therapy. Further, prospective assessment of how to best integrate NGS in the molecular monitoring and clinical decision algorithms is warranted.

Gambacorti-Passerini CB, Donadoni C, Parmiani A, et al.
Recurrent ETNK1 mutations in atypical chronic myeloid leukemia.
Blood. 2015; 125(3):499-503 [PubMed] Related Publications
Despite the recent identification of recurrent SETBP1 mutations in atypical chronic myeloid leukemia (aCML), a complete description of the somatic lesions responsible for the onset of this disorder is still lacking. To find additional somatic abnormalities in aCML, we performed whole-exome sequencing on 15 aCML cases. In 2 cases (13.3%), we identified somatic missense mutations in the ETNK1 gene. Targeted resequencing on 515 hematological clonal disorders revealed the presence of ETNK1 variants in 6 (8.8%) of 68 aCML and 2 (2.6%) of 77 chronic myelomonocytic leukemia samples. These mutations clustered in a small region of the kinase domain, encoding for H243Y and N244S (1/8 H243Y; 7/8 N244S). They were all heterozygous and present in the dominant clone. The intracellular phosphoethanolamine/phosphocholine ratio was, on average, 5.2-fold lower in ETNK1-mutated samples (P < .05). Similar results were obtained using myeloid TF1 cells transduced with ETNK1 wild type, ETNK1-N244S, and ETNK1-H243Y, where the intracellular phosphoethanolamine/phosphocholine ratio was significantly lower in ETNK1-N244S (0.76 ± 0.07) and ETNK1-H243Y (0.37 ± 0.02) than in ETNK1-WT (1.37 ± 0.32; P = .01 and P = .0008, respectively), suggesting that ETNK1 mutations may inhibit the catalytic activity of the enzyme. In summary, our study shows for the first time the evidence of recurrent somatic ETNK1 mutations in the context of myeloproliferative/myelodysplastic disorders.

Agarwal A, Mackenzie RJ, Besson A, et al.
BCR-ABL1 promotes leukemia by converting p27 into a cytoplasmic oncoprotein.
Blood. 2014; 124(22):3260-73 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 20/11/2015 Related Publications
Recent studies have revealed that p27, a nuclear cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) inhibitor and tumor suppressor, can acquire oncogenic activities upon mislocalization to the cytoplasm. To understand how these antagonistic activities influence oncogenesis, we dissected the nuclear and cytoplasmic functions of p27 in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a well-characterized malignancy caused by the BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase. p27 is predominantly cytoplasmic in CML and nuclear in normal cells. BCR-ABL1 regulates nuclear and cytoplasmic p27 abundance by kinase-dependent and -independent mechanisms, respectively. p27 knockdown in CML cell lines with predominantly cytoplasmic p27 induces apoptosis, consistent with a leukemogenic role of cytoplasmic p27. Accordingly, a p27 mutant (p27(CK-)) devoid of Cdk inhibitory nuclear functions enhances leukemogenesis in a murine CML model compared with complete absence of p27. In contrast, p27 mutations that enhance its stability (p27(T187A)) or nuclear retention (p27(S10A)) attenuate leukemogenesis over wild-type p27, validating the tumor-suppressor function of nuclear p27 in CML. We conclude that BCR-ABL1 kinase-dependent and -independent mechanisms convert p27 from a nuclear tumor suppressor to a cytoplasmic oncogene. These findings suggest that cytoplasmic mislocalization of p27 despite BCR-ABL1 inhibition by tyrosine kinase inhibitors may contribute to drug resistance, and effective therapeutic strategies to stabilize nuclear p27 must also prevent cytoplasmic mislocalization.

Sweet K, Al Ali NH, Dalia SM, et al.
Increased genomic instability may contribute to the development of kinase domain mutations in chronic myeloid leukemia.
Int J Hematol. 2014; 100(6):567-74 [PubMed] Related Publications
Imatinib resistance in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is commonly due to BCR-ABL kinase domain mutations (KDMs). In this single-institution retrospective analysis, patients with KDMs were identified from a cohort of patients treated for CML at our institution. Clinical outcomes were assessed based on the characteristics of the KDMs and results of cytogenetic analysis. In total, we compared 26 patients with KDM to those without; 46 % (n = 12) versus 20 % (n = 57) progressed to advanced phase (P = 0.003). Median overall survival was 22 months, 109 months, and not reached in patients with P-loop, T315I, and non-P-loop mutations (P = 0.127). KDM patients had a median progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival of 75 and 109 months; however, neither was reached in the non-mutation cohort (P = 0.0007, P = 0.235). Median PFS in patients with single versus compound or double mutations was not reached versus 10 months (P = 0.014). We conclude that T315I, P-loop, and compound mutations may worsen prognosis in CML.

Schwaab J, Knut M, Haferlach C, et al.
Limited duration of complete remission on ruxolitinib in myeloid neoplasms with PCM1-JAK2 and BCR-JAK2 fusion genes.
Ann Hematol. 2015; 94(2):233-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Rearrangements of chromosome band 9p24 are known to be associated with JAK2 fusion genes, e.g., t(8;9)(p22;p24) with a PCM1-JAK2 and t(9;22)(p24;q11) with a BCR-JAK2 fusion gene, respectively. In association with myeloid neoplasms, the clinical course is aggressive, and in absence of effective conventional treatment options, long-term remission is usually only observed after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (ASCT). With the discovery of inhibitors of the JAK2 tyrosine kinase and based on encouraging in vitro and in vivo data, we treated two male patients with myeloid neoplasms and a PCM1-JAK2 or a BCR-JAK2 fusion gene, respectively, with the JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor ruxolitinib. After 12 months of treatment, both patients achieved a complete clinical, hematologic, and cytogenetic response. Non-hematologic toxicity was only grade 1 while no hematologic toxicity was observed. However, remission in both patients was only short-term, with relapse occurring after 18 and 24 months, respectively, making ASCT indispensable in both cases. This data highlight (1) the ongoing importance of cytogenetic analysis for the diagnostic work-up of myeloid neoplasms as it may guide targeted therapy and (2) remission under ruxolitinib may only be short-termed in JAK2 fusion genes but it may be an important bridging therapy prior to ASCT.

Illert AL, Albers C, Kreutmair S, et al.
Grb10 is involved in BCR-ABL-positive leukemia in mice.
Leukemia. 2015; 29(4):858-68 [PubMed] Related Publications
The SH2-containing adaptor protein Grb10 was first identified in a yeast screen as a new binding partner for BCR-ABL and associates with BCR-ABL in a tyrosine-dependent manner. However, its function in BCR-ABL-mediated leukemogenesis in vivo is still unknown. Here we describe an important role of Grb10 in BCR-ABL-induced leukemia by using a versatile system for efficient oncogene expression and simultaneous Grb10 knockdown from a single vector. Primary bone marrow (BM) cells coexpressing Grb10-miR/BCR-ABL showed a significant decrease in colony formation and cell cycle progression. Transplantation of Grb10miR/BCR-ABL- or control-miR/BCR-ABL- transduced BM leads to a CML/B-ALL-like phenotype with significantly delayed disease onset and progression resulting in prolonged overall survival in Grb10-miR-transplanted mice. Methylcellulose experiments exhibit additive effects of imatinib treatment and Grb10 knockdown. Cell cycle analysis suggests an anti-proliferative effect of Grb10 knockdown in BCR-ABL(+) primary BM cells. However, Grb10 abrogation was not capable of completely abolishing the BCR-ABL-induced disease. Our findings were confirmed in the human BCR-ABL(+) cell line K562, where we demonstrate reduced viability, cell cycle progression and induction of apoptosis by stable Grb10 microRNA expression. Taken together, our results suggest that Grb10 knockdown in vivo leads to impaired proliferation, longer survival and reduced colony formation, suggesting an important role of Grb10 in BCR-ABL-mediated leukemogenesis.

Xishan Z, Xianjun L, Ziying L, et al.
The malignancy suppression role of miR-23a by targeting the BCR/ABL oncogene in chromic myeloid leukemia.
Cancer Gene Ther. 2014; 21(9):397-404 [PubMed] Related Publications
The aim of this study was to investigate the role and mechanism of miR-23a in the regulation of BCR/ABL and to provide a new prognostic biomarker for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The expression levels of miR-23a and BCR/ABL were assessed in 42 newly diagnosed CML patients, 37 CML patients in first complete remission and 25 healthy controls. Quantitative real-time PCR, western blot analysis and colony formation assay were used to evaluate changes induced by overexpression or inhibition of miR-23a or BCR/ABL. MiR-23a mimic or negative control mimic was transfected into a CML cell line (K562) and two lung cancer cell lines (H157 and SKMES1) using Lipofectamine 2000, and the cells were used for real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) and western blot analysis. We found that the downregulation of miR-23a expression was a frequent event in both leukemia cell lines and primary leukemic cells from patients with de novo CML. The microarray results showed that most of the CML patients expressed high levels of BCR/ABL and low levels of miR-23a. Real-time RT-PCR and western blot analysis showed that the BCR/ABL levels in miR-23a-transfected cells were lower than those in the control groups. Ectopic expression of miR-23a in K562 cells led to cellular senescence. Moreover, when K562 cells were treated with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine, a DNA methylation inhibitor, BCR/ABL expression was upregulated, which indicates epigenetic silencing of miR-23a in leukemic cells. BCR/ABL and miR-23a expressions were inversely related to CML, and BCR/ABL expression was regulated by miR-23a in leukemic cells. The epigenetic silencing of miR-23a led to derepression of BCR/ABL expression, and consequently contributes to CML development and progression.

Schmidt M, Rinke J, Schäfer V, et al.
Molecular-defined clonal evolution in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia independent of the BCR-ABL status.
Leukemia. 2014; 28(12):2292-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
To study clonal evolution in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), we searched for BCR-ABL-independent gene mutations in both Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-negative and Ph-positive clones in 29 chronic-phase CML patients by targeted deep sequencing of 25 genes frequently mutated in myeloid disorders. Ph-negative clones were analyzed in 14 patients who developed clonal cytogenetic abnormalities in Ph-negative cells during treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). Mutations were detected in 6/14 patients (43%) affecting the genes DNMT3A, EZH2, RUNX1, TET2, TP53, U2AF1 and ZRSR2. In two patients, the mutations were also found in corresponding Ph-positive diagnostic samples. To further investigate Ph-positive clones, 15 randomly selected CML patients at diagnosis were analyzed. Somatic mutations additional to BCR-ABL were found in 5/15 patients (33%) affecting ASXL1, DNMT3A, RUNX1 and TET2. Analysis of individual hematopoietic colonies at diagnosis revealed that most mutations were part of the Ph-positive clone. In contrast, deep sequencing of subsequent samples during TKI treatment revealed one DNMT3A mutation in Ph-negative cells that was also present in Ph-positive cells at diagnosis, implying that the mutation preceded the BCR-ABL rearrangement. In summary, BCR-ABL-independent gene mutations were frequently found in Ph-negative and Ph-positive clones of CML patients and may be considered as important cofactors in the clonal evolution of CML.

BCR-ABL Translocation in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia


See also: BCR.htm gene

Latest Publications

McClellan JS, Dove C, Gentles AJ, et al.
Reprogramming of primary human Philadelphia chromosome-positive B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells into nonleukemic macrophages.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015; 112(13):4074-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
BCR-ABL1(+) precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCR-ABL1(+) B-ALL) is an aggressive hematopoietic neoplasm characterized by a block in differentiation due in part to the somatic loss of transcription factors required for B-cell development. We hypothesized that overcoming this differentiation block by forcing cells to reprogram to the myeloid lineage would reduce the leukemogenicity of these cells. We found that primary human BCR-ABL1(+) B-ALL cells could be induced to reprogram into macrophage-like cells by exposure to myeloid differentiation-promoting cytokines in vitro or by transient expression of the myeloid transcription factor C/EBPα or PU.1. The resultant cells were clonally related to the primary leukemic blasts but resembled normal macrophages in appearance, immunophenotype, gene expression, and function. Most importantly, these macrophage-like cells were unable to establish disease in xenograft hosts, indicating that lineage reprogramming eliminates the leukemogenicity of BCR-ABL1(+) B-ALL cells, and suggesting a previously unidentified therapeutic strategy for this disease. Finally, we determined that myeloid reprogramming may occur to some degree in human patients by identifying primary CD14(+) monocytes/macrophages in BCR-ABL1(+) B-ALL patient samples that possess the BCR-ABL1(+) translocation and clonally recombined VDJ regions.

Kęsy J, Januszkiewicz-Lewandowska D
Genes and childhood leukemia.
Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2015; 69:302-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Leukemia is a heterogeneous hematologic malignancy originating from a multipotent hematopoietic stem cell. It ranks among the commonest cancers in childhood and is characterized by excessive proliferation and differentiation block. The process of leukemogenesis is governed by genetic changes at both the cytogenetic and molecular level. According to numerous analyses, a large spectrum of mutations and rearrangements underlying the disease affect essential cellular transduction pathways, genes ensuring proper course of hematopoiesis, oncogenes, tumor suppressors and apoptosis regulators. Common lesions include translocations to T cell receptor (TCR) loci in T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), mutations of transcription factors regulating B-lineage development and cell maturation in B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) (PAX5, TCF3, EBF1, etc.), aberrational disruption of genes coding for transcription factors and coactivators in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) (e.g. CBF) or BCR-ABL1 fusion and activation of multiple kinases in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). These alterations severely impair cell function. Broadening knowledge of the genetic background gives an insight into the pathobiology of a disease and allows for a better understanding of it. An appropriate investigation of genomic events yields diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic implications. Broadening knowledge of the pathogenesis of leukemia seems to be a promising contribution to precise stratification of patients, reducing the toxicity and adverse effects caused by medical intervention, treatment personalization and introduction of targeted therapy accessible to a wide range of patients.

Ye YX, Zhou J, Zhou YH, et al.
Clinical significance of BCR-ABL fusion gene subtypes in chronic myelogenous and acute lymphoblastic leukemias.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(22):9961-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Some reports have suggested that chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients have a higher prevalence of M-bcr than acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients, which show a higher prevalence of m-bcr. However, the relationship between BCR-ABL subtypes and progression of CML and ALL remains unclear.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: 354 CML chronic phase (CML-CP) patients, 26 CML blastic phase (CML-BP) patients and 72 ALL patients before treatment with BCR-ABL positive were recruited for blood routine examination and bone marrow smear cytology. Some 80 CML-CP and 32 ALL patients after imatinib (IM) treatment were followed-up for BCR-ABL relative concentrations detected after treatment for 3, 6 and 9 months and 1 year.
RESULTS: Before treatment, CML-CP patients showed lower BCR-ABL relative concentrations with a higher proportion of M-bcr (42.7%) compared to CML-BP and ALL patients while ALL patients had a higher BCR-ABL relative concentration with high expression of m-bcr (51.4%). Patients with M-bcr demonstrated higher WBC counts than those with m-bcr and the mixed group and higher PLT counts were noted in the CML-CP and ALL groups. After imatinib (IM) treatment, patients with m-bcr showed higher BCR-ABL relative concentrations in both CML-CP and ALL groups.
CONCLUSIONS: This study identified the BCR-ABL gene as an important factor in CML and ALL cases. The M-bcr subtype was associated more with CML while the m-bcr subtype was associated more with ALL. Patients with m-bcr seem to have a poorer response to IM in either CML or ALL patients compared to M-bcr patients.

Tao J, Zhang X, Lancet J, et al.
Concurrence of B-lymphoblastic leukemia and myeloproliferative neoplasm with copy neutral loss of heterozygosity at chromosome 1p harboring a MPL W515S mutation.
Cancer Genet. 2014 Oct-Dec; 207(10-12):489-94 [PubMed] Related Publications
B-lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) is a neoplasm of precursors committed to B-cell lineage, whereas myeloproliferative neoplasm (MPN) is a clonal proliferation derived from myeloid stem cells. Concurrent B-ALL with MPN is uncommon except in the presence of abnormalities of the PDGFRA, PDGFRB, or FGFR1 genes or the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene. Herein, we describe a rare concurrence, B-ALL with MPN without the aforementioned genetic aberrations, in a 64-year-old male patient. The patient was initially diagnosed with B-ALL with normal karyotype and responded well to aggressive chemotherapy but had sustained leukocytosis and splenomegaly. The posttreatment restaging bone marrow was free of B-ALL but remained hypercellular with myeloid predominance. Using a single nucleotide polymorphism microarray study, we identified a copy neutral loss of heterozygosity at the terminus of 1p in the bone marrow samples taken at diagnosis and again at remission, 49% and 100%, respectively. Several additional genetic abnormalities were present in the initial marrow sample but not in the remission marrow samples. Retrospective molecular studies detected a MPL W515S homozygous mutation in both the initial and remission marrows for B-ALL, at 30-40% and 80% dosage effect, respectively. In summary, we present a case of concurrent B-ALL and MPN and demonstrate a stepwise cytogenetic and molecular approach to the final diagnosis.

Gaikwad AS, Donohue RE, Elghetany MT, et al.
Expression of CD25 is a specific and relatively sensitive marker for the Philadelphia chromosome (BCR-ABL1) translocation in pediatric B acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2014; 7(9):6225-30 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Precursor B acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) is the most common cancer in children and overall, has an excellent prognosis. However, the Philadelphia chromosome translocation (Ph+), t(9;22)(q34;q11), is present in a small subset of patients and confers poor outcomes. CD25 (IL-2 receptor alpha chain) expression has been associated with Ph+ B-ALL in adults, but no similar study has been performed in pediatric B-ALL.
METHODS: A retrospective analysis of 221 consecutive pediatric patients with a diagnosis of B-ALL (blood and/or bone marrow) from 2009 to 2012 was performed to determine an association between Ph+ B-ALL and CD25 expression. A threshold of 25% was used to define positive cases for CD25 expression by flow cytometry.
RESULTS: There were 221 patients with a diagnosis of B-ALL ranging from 2 to 22 years (median, 6 years). Eight (3.6%) B-ALL patients were positive for the Philadelphia chromosome translocation (Ph+ B-ALL) and 213 were negative (Ph-negative B-ALL). CD25 expression was observed in 6 of 8 (75%) Ph+ B-ALL patients and 6 of 213 (2.8%) Ph-negative B-ALL patients. CD25 expression was significantly higher in Ph+ B-ALL compared to Ph-negative B-ALL, with median CD25 expression of 64% (range 0-93%) and 0.1% (range 0-91%), respectively (P ≤ 0.0002). Therefore, CD25 expression as a predictor of Ph+ B-ALL had 75% sensitivity, 97% specificity, 50% positive predictive value and 99% negative predictive value.
CONCLUSIONS: CD25 expression is a specific and relatively sensitive marker for the identification of Ph+ B-ALL in the pediatric population.

Somsedikova A, Markova E, Kolenova A, et al.
Constitutive 53BP1/γH2AX foci are increased in cells of ALL patients dependent on BCR-ABL and TEL-AML1 preleukemic gene fusions.
Neoplasma. 2014; 61(5):617-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
Childhood leukemia arises from hematopoietic stem cells by induction of mutations. Quite often chromosomal translocations arise prenatally as first key event in multistage process of leukemogenesis. These translocations result in so called preleukemic gene fusions (PGFs), such as BCR-ABL and TEL-AML1, which generate hybrid proteins with altered properties. Critical DNA damage resulting in translocations are DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). BCR-ABL and TEL-AML1 were shown to be associated with increased constitutive DSBs in various model systems. We analyzed cells from peripheral blood and CD34-/CD34+ cells from bone marrow of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients harboring BCR-ABL or TEL-AML1. We used sensitive technique that is based on automated enumeration of DSB co-localizing proteins γH2AX and 53BP1, which form so called DNA repair foci. We found that level of constitutive γH2AX/53BP1 foci is significantly higher in cells of ALL pediatric patients than in healthy subjects. There was also significant increased level of constitutive γH2AX/53BP1 foci in cells from ALL patients harboring BCR-ABL or TEL-AML1 compared to patients without PGFs. The same increase was observed regardless cell type for both PGFs. Our data on increased DSB levels in the BCR-ABL/TEL-AML1 patient's cells support a model where BCR-ABL/TEL-AML1 induces DNA instability through facilitating mutagenesis and appearance of additional genetic alterations driving leukemogenesis.

Roberts KG, Li Y, Payne-Turner D, et al.
Targetable kinase-activating lesions in Ph-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
N Engl J Med. 2014; 371(11):1005-15 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Philadelphia chromosome-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-like ALL) is characterized by a gene-expression profile similar to that of BCR-ABL1-positive ALL, alterations of lymphoid transcription factor genes, and a poor outcome. The frequency and spectrum of genetic alterations in Ph-like ALL and its responsiveness to tyrosine kinase inhibition are undefined, especially in adolescents and adults.
METHODS: We performed genomic profiling of 1725 patients with precursor B-cell ALL and detailed genomic analysis of 154 patients with Ph-like ALL. We examined the functional effects of fusion proteins and the efficacy of tyrosine kinase inhibitors in mouse pre-B cells and xenografts of human Ph-like ALL.
RESULTS: Ph-like ALL increased in frequency from 10% among children with standard-risk ALL to 27% among young adults with ALL and was associated with a poor outcome. Kinase-activating alterations were identified in 91% of patients with Ph-like ALL; rearrangements involving ABL1, ABL2, CRLF2, CSF1R, EPOR, JAK2, NTRK3, PDGFRB, PTK2B, TSLP, or TYK2 and sequence mutations involving FLT3, IL7R, or SH2B3 were most common. Expression of ABL1, ABL2, CSF1R, JAK2, and PDGFRB fusions resulted in cytokine-independent proliferation and activation of phosphorylated STAT5. Cell lines and human leukemic cells expressing ABL1, ABL2, CSF1R, and PDGFRB fusions were sensitive in vitro to dasatinib, EPOR and JAK2 rearrangements were sensitive to ruxolitinib, and the ETV6-NTRK3 fusion was sensitive to crizotinib.
CONCLUSIONS: Ph-like ALL was found to be characterized by a range of genomic alterations that activate a limited number of signaling pathways, all of which may be amenable to inhibition with approved tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Trials identifying Ph-like ALL are needed to assess whether adding tyrosine kinase inhibitors to current therapy will improve the survival of patients with this type of leukemia. (Funded by the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities and others.).

Soh SX, Lim JY, Huang JW, et al.
Multi-agent chemotherapy overcomes glucocorticoid resistance conferred by a BIM deletion polymorphism in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(8):e103435 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
A broad range of anti-cancer agents, including glucocorticoids (GCs) and tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), kill cells by upregulating the pro-apoptotic BCL2 family member, BIM. A common germline deletion in the BIM gene was recently shown to favor the production of non-apoptotic BIM isoforms, and to predict inferior responses in TKI-treated chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and EGFR-driven lung cancer patients. Given that both in vitro and in vivo GC resistance are predictive of adverse outcomes in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), we hypothesized that this polymorphism would mediate GC resistance, and serve as a biomarker of poor response in ALL. Accordingly, we used zinc finger nucleases to generate ALL cell lines with the BIM deletion, and confirmed the ability of the deletion to mediate GC resistance in vitro. In contrast to CML and lung cancer, the BIM deletion did not predict for poorer clinical outcome in a retrospective analysis of 411 pediatric ALL patients who were uniformly treated with GCs and chemotherapy. Underlying the lack of prognostic significance, we found that the chemotherapy agents used in our cohort (vincristine, L-asparaginase, and methotrexate) were each able to induce ALL cell death in a BIM-independent fashion, and resensitize BIM deletion-containing cells to GCs. Together, our work demonstrates how effective therapy can overcome intrinsic resistance in ALL patients, and suggests the potential of using combinations of drugs that work via divergent mechanisms of cell killing to surmount BIM deletion-mediated drug resistance in other cancers.

Xie J, Wang Q, Wang Q, et al.
High frequency of BTG1 deletions in patients with BCR-ABL1-positive acute leukemia.
Cancer Genet. 2014; 207(5):226-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
Deletions affecting the B-cell translocation gene 1 (BTG1) have recently been reported in 9% of patients with B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL), and occur even more frequently in ETV6-RUNX1-positive and BCR-ABL1-positive subgroups. To investigate whether the BTG1 deletions occur in other BCR-ABL1-positive acute leukemias besides BCP-ALL, we analyzed 44 leukemia cases harboring the BCR-ABL1 transcript [32 BCP-ALL, six mixed-phenotype acute leukemia (MPAL), and six chronic myeloid leukemia in B-lineage blast crisis (CML-BC)] by array-based comparative genomic hybridization and reverse transcription-PCR. BTG1 deletions were present in 31.8% of BCR-ABL1-positive acute leukemia patients, including 31.3% of BCP-ALL (10/32), 33.3% of MPAL (2/6), and 33.3% of CML-BC (B-lineage) (2/6) patients. Of note, the intragenic deletion breakpoints, mapping to 5 different positions at the proximal end of the breakpoint, clustered tightly within exon 2 of BTG1, which were located within a stretch of 20 bp from nucleotide 284 to nucleotide 304 and led to truncated BTG1 transcripts. There were no significant differences in the median white blood cell count, hemoglobin concentration, platelet count, bone marrow blast count, sex, age, or overall complete remission rate between patients with and without BTG1 deletions. Taken together, our data suggest that BTG1 deletions might play a role in leukemogenesis of BCP-ALL as well as of BCR-ABL1-positive MPAL and CML-BC (B-lineage).

Ma H, Mallampati S, Lu Y, et al.
The Sox4/Tcf7l1 axis promotes progression of BCR-ABL-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Haematologica. 2014; 99(10):1591-8 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
The transcription factor Sox4 plays an indispensable role in the development of early progenitor B cells from hematopoietic stem cells. However, its role in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a malignant counterpart of normal progenitor B cells, is not fully understood. Here we show that SOX4 is highly expressed in human acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells. To systematically study the function of Sox4 in acute lymphoblastic leukemia, we established a genetically defined mouse leukemia model by transforming progenitor B cells carrying a floxed Sox4 allele and inducing deletion of the allele by the self-excising Cre recombinase. This model allowed us to work with two groups of leukemic cells that had either one copy or both copies of Sox4 deleted. We found that depletion of Sox4 in transformed cells in vitro reduced cell growth in vitro and the progression of leukemia in vivo. Moreover, depletion of Sox4 in leukemic cells in vivo prolonged the survival of the mice, suggesting that it could be a potential target in acute lymphoblastic leukemia therapy. Our microarray and bioChIP studies revealed that Tcf7l1 was the key gene directly regulated by Sox4. Knockdown of Tcf7l1 reduced cell proliferation, just as did knockout of Sox4, and ectopic expression of Tcf7l1 could reverse the effect of Sox4 knockout on cell proliferation. These data suggest that Sox4 and Tcf7l1 form a functional axis that promotes the progression of BCR-ABL-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Vitanza NA, Zaky W, Blum R, et al.
Ikaros deletions in BCR-ABL-negative childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia are associated with a distinct gene expression signature but do not result in intrinsic chemoresistance.
Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2014; 61(10):1779-85 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Ikaros, the product of IKZF1, is a regulator of lymphoid development and polymorphisms in the gene have been associated with the acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Additionally, IKZF1 deletions and mutations identify high-risk biological subsets of childhood ALL [Georgopoulos et al. Cell 1995;83(2):289-299; Mullighan et al. N Engl J Md 2009;360(5):470-480].
PROCEDURES: To discover the underlying pathways modulated by Ikaros we performed gene expression and gene ontology analysis in IKZF1 deleted primary B-ALL pediatric patient samples. To validate downstream targets we performed qPCR on individual patient samples. We also created IKZF1 knockdown B-ALL cell lines with over 50% reduction of Ikaros, mimicking haplosufficient Ikaros deletions, and again performed qPCR to investigate the downstream targets. Finally, to understand the association of Ikaros deletion with a poor prognosis we challenged our IKZF1 knockdown cell lines with chemotherapy and compared responses to IKZF1 wild-type controls.
RESULTS: We report a specific gene expression signature of 735 up-regulated and 473 down-regulated genes in IKZF1 deleted primary B-ALL pediatric patient samples. Gene ontology studies revealed an up-regulation of genes associated with cell adhesion, cytoskeletal regulation, and motility in IKZF deleted patient samples. Validated up-regulated target genes in IKZF1 deleted patient samples included CTNND1 and PVRL2 (P = 0.0003 and P = 0.001), and RAB3IP and SPIB (P = 0.005 and P = 0.032) were down-regulated. In further studies in IKZF1 knockdown cell lines, apoptosis assays showed no significant chemoresistance.
CONCLUSION: IKZF1 knockdown alone does not impart intrinsic chemotherapy resistance suggesting that the association with a poor prognosis may be due to additional lesions, microenvironmental interactions with the bone marrow niche, or other factors.

Dzikiewicz-Krawczyk A, Macieja A, Mały E, et al.
Polymorphisms in microRNA target sites modulate risk of lymphoblastic and myeloid leukemias and affect microRNA binding.
J Hematol Oncol. 2014; 7:43 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: MicroRNA dysregulation is a common event in leukemia. Polymorphisms in microRNA-binding sites (miRSNPs) in target genes may alter the strength of microRNA interaction with target transcripts thereby affecting protein levels. In this study we aimed at identifying miRSNPs associated with leukemia risk and assessing impact of these miRSNPs on miRNA binding to target transcripts.
METHODS: We analyzed with specialized algorithms the 3' untranslated regions of 137 leukemia-associated genes and identified 111 putative miRSNPs, of which 10 were chosen for further investigation. We genotyped patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML, n = 87), chronic myeloid leukemia (CML, n = 140), childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL, n = 101) and healthy controls (n = 471). Association between SNPs and leukemia risk was calculated by estimating odds ratios in the multivariate logistic regression analysis. For miRSNPs that were associated with leukemia risk we performed luciferase reporter assays to examine whether they influence miRNA binding.
RESULTS: Here we show that variant alleles of TLX1_rs2742038 and ETV6_rs1573613 were associated with increased risk of childhood ALL (OR (95% CI) = 3.97 (1.43-11.02) and 1.9 (1.16-3.11), respectively), while PML_rs9479 was associated with decreased ALL risk (OR = 0.55 (0.36-0.86). In adult myeloid leukemias we found significant associations between the variant allele of PML_rs9479 and decreased AML risk (OR = 0.61 (0.38-0.97), and between variant alleles of IRF8_ rs10514611 and ARHGAP26_rs187729 and increased CML risk (OR = 2.4 (1.12-5.15) and 1.63 (1.07-2.47), respectively). Moreover, we observed a significant trend for an increasing ALL and CML risk with the growing number of risk genotypes with OR = 13.91 (4.38-44.11) for carriers of ≥3 risk genotypes in ALL and OR = 4.9 (1.27-18.85) for carriers of 2 risk genotypes in CML. Luciferase reporter assays revealed that the C allele of ARHGAP26_rs187729 creates an illegitimate binding site for miR-18a-3p, while the A allele of PML_rs9479 enhances binding of miR-510-5p and the C allele of ETV6_rs1573613 weakens binding of miR-34c-5p and miR-449b-5p.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study implicates that microRNA-binding site polymorphisms modulate leukemia risk by interfering with the miRNA-mediated regulation. Our findings underscore the significance of variability in 3' untranslated regions in leukemia.

Izraeli S
Beyond Philadelphia: 'Ph-like' B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemias - diagnostic challenges and therapeutic promises.
Curr Opin Hematol. 2014; 21(4):289-96 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The presence of the Philadelphia chromosome causing the fusion between BCR to ABL1 in B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALLs) was associated with a particularly bad prognosis, which has been markedly improved with the addition of imatinib to chemotherapy. Recent genomic studies have lead to the identification of 'Philadelphia like' or 'BCR-ABL1 like' ALLs lacking BCR-ABL1 fusion.
RECENT FINDINGS: About 10% of childhood ALL and a higher percentage of adolescents and adults with ALLs are characterized by activation of cytokine receptors and signaling kinases. Aberrant expression, point mutations or fusion translocations cause activation of either the ABL1 or JAK signaling pathways. In general, these leukemias are associated with worse prognosis. Preclinical studies and limited clinical experience suggest that these leukemias respond to tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Thus, their identification is important. However, as most of these fusion translocations are rare, their diagnosis is challenging.
SUMMARY: The diagnosis of 'Philadelphia like' poor prognosis ALLs is technically challenging but of paramount importance as they are likely to respond to targeted therapy with currently available ABL or JAK inhibitors.

Jeffries SJ, Jones L, Harrison CJ, Russell LJ
IGH@ translocations co-exist with other primary rearrangements in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Haematologica. 2014; 99(8):1334-42 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
Primary established genetic abnormalities in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia include high hyperdiploidy (51-65 chromosomes), the translocations t(12;21)(p13;q22)/ETV6-RUNX1 fusion and t(9;22)(q34;q11)/BCR-ABL1 fusion, MLL rearrangements and intrachromosomal amplification of chromosome 21. These rearrangements are of prognostic and therapeutic relevance and are usually mutually exclusive. We identified 28 patients at diagnosis with both a primary genetic rearrangement and an immunoglobulin heavy chain locus translocation using chromosomal analysis and fluorescence in situ hybridization. Among these patients, the immunoglobulin heavy chain locus translocation partner gene was identified in six (CRLF2, CEBPA, CEBPB, TRA/D@, IGF2BP1 and IGK@). Clonal architecture was investigated in 17 patients using multiple color interphase fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis, which showed that the translocation was acquired as a secondary abnormality in ten patients, in four patients the etiology was undetermined and in three patients it was observed in a separate clone from the primary chromosomal rearrangement. These findings demonstrate the co-existence of immunoglobulin heavy chain locus translocations with other primary chromosomal rearrangements either in the same or separate clones, which may have prognostic significance in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Clinical trials: UKALLXII: Study ID n. ISRCTN77346223 and ALL2003: Study ID n. ISRCTN07355119.

Wang KL, Mei YY, Cui L, et al.
E2F3a gene expression has prognostic significance in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Eur J Haematol. 2014; 93(4):281-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: To study E2F3a expression and its clinical significance in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
METHODS: We quantified E2F3a expression at diagnosis in 148 children with ALL by real-time PCR. In the test cohort (n = 48), receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was used to find the best cut-off point to divide the patients into E2F3a low- and high-expression groups. The prognostic significance of E2F3a expression was investigated in the test cohort and confirmed in the validation cohort (n = 100). The correlations of E2F3a expression with the clinical features and treatment outcome of these patients were analyzed.
RESULTS: ROC curve analysis indicated that the best cut-off point of E2F3a expression was 0.3780. In the test cohort, leukemia-free survival (LFS) and event-free survival (EFS) of the low-expression group were lower than those of the high-expression group (log rank: P = 0.026 for both). This finding was verified in the validation cohort. LFS, EFS, and overall survival were also lower in the low-expression group than in the high-expression group (log rank, P = 0.015, 0.008, and 0.002 respectively). E2F3a low expression was correlated with the existence of BCR-ABL fusion. An algorithm composed of E2F3a expression and minimal residual disease (MRD) could predict relapse or induction failure more precisely than current risk stratification. These results were still significant in the ALL patients without BCR-ABL fusion.
CONCLUSIONS: Low expression of E2F3a was associated with inferior prognosis in childhood ALL. An algorithm composed of E2F3a expression and MRD could predict relapse or induction failure more precisely than that of the current risk stratification.

Vejbaesya S, Sae-Tam P, Khuhapinant A, Srinak D
Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors in Thai patients with leukemia and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
Hum Immunol. 2014; 75(7):673-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Natural killer (NK) cells are key components of the innate immune system that have been implicated in the immune response against tumor cells. Killer cell immunoglobulin-like receptors (KIR) regulate NK cell activity by interaction with specific human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I. In this study, KIR gene polymorphisms and their HLA ligands were investigated in Thai patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) (n=60), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) (n=60), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) (n=55), and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) (n=60) compared with 150 healthy controls. The frequency of KIR3DL1 with HLA-Bw4 was significantly lower in DLBCL patients than in controls (P=0.0006, Pc=0.02), whereas no significant differences were seen in KIR gene frequencies and their ligands between leukemia patients and controls. This study suggest a role of inhibitory KIR with its ligand in the protection against DLBCL.

Cerny-Reiterer S, Meyer RA, Herrmann H, et al.
Identification of heat shock protein 32 (Hsp32) as a novel target in acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(5):1198-211 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
Heat shock proteins (Hsp) are increasingly employed as therapeutic targets in oncology. We have shown that Hsp32, also known as heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), serves as survival factor and potential target in Ph+ chronic myeloid leukemia. We here report that primary cells and cell lines derived from patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) express Hsp32 mRNA and the Hsp32 protein in a constitutive manner. Highly enriched CD34+/CD38- ALL stem cells also expressed Hsp32. Two Hsp32-targeting drugs, pegylated zinc protoporphyrine (PEG-ZnPP) and styrene maleic acid-micelle-encapsulated ZnPP (SMA-ZnPP), induced apoptosis and growth arrest in the BCR/ABL1+ cell lines, in Ph- lymphoblastic cell lines and in primary Ph+ and Ph- ALL cells. The effects of PEG-ZnPP and SMA-ZnPP on growth of leukemic cells were dose-dependent. In Ph+ ALL, major growth-inhibitory effects of the Hsp32-targeting drugs were observed in imatinib-sensitive and imatinib-resistant cells. Hsp32-targeting drugs were found to synergize with imatinib, nilotinib, and bendamustine in producing growth inhibition and apoptosis in Ph+ ALL cells. A siRNA against Hsp32 was found to inhibit growth and survival of ALL cells and to synergize with imatinib in suppressing the growth of ALL cells. In conclusion, Hsp32 is an essential survival factor and potential new target in ALL.

Aoe M, Shimada A, Muraoka M, et al.
ABL kinase mutation and relapse in 4 pediatric Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia cases.
Int J Hematol. 2014; 99(5):609-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
The tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) imatinib mesylate (IM) revolutionized the treatment of Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-ALL), which had showed poor prognosis before the dawn of IM treatment. However, if Ph-ALL patients showed IM resistance due to ABL kinase mutation, second-generation TKI, dasatinib or nilotinib, was recommended. We treated 4 pediatric Ph-ALL patients with both IM and bone marrow transplantation (BMT); however, 3 relapsed. We retrospectively examined the existence of ABL kinase mutation using PCR and direct sequencing methods, but there was no such mutation in all 4 diagnostic samples. Interestingly, two relapsed samples from patients who were not treated with IM before relapse did not show ABL kinase mutation and IM was still effective even after relapse. On the other hand, one patient who showed resistance to 3 TKI acquired dual ABL kinase mutations, F359C at the IM-resistant phase and F317I at the dasatinib-resistant phase, simultaneously. In summary, Ph-ALL patients relapsed with or without ABL kinase mutation. Furthermore, ABL kinase mutation was only found after IM treatment, so an IM-resistant clone might have been selected during the IM treatment and intensive chemotherapy. The appropriate combination of TKI and BMT must be discussed to cure Ph-ALL patients.

Iacobucci I, Lonetti A, Venturi C, et al.
Use of a high sensitive nanofluidic array for the detection of rare copies of BCR-ABL1 transcript in patients with Philadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia in complete response.
Leuk Res. 2014; 38(5):581-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
Monitoring of minimal residual disease (MRD) by quantification of BCR-ABL1 transcript levels has become a main part of the management of patients with BCR-ABL1-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). The failure to achieve molecular negativity shortly after starting TKI has been demonstrated to be predictive of relapse, suggesting that an accurate measurement of low BCR-ABL1 levels may have a role in preventing hematological relapse. Despite the big efforts made by many European laboratories within the European Study Group, at the time of writing a standardized procedure to quantify and express results is still missing for BCR-ABL1-positive ALL. In this study, in order to detect with high sensitivity low levels of BCR-ABL1 transcripts, we used a new technology and a new molecular approach based on microfluidic digital polymerase chain reaction (dPCR) using Taqman chemistry and we compared obtained results with those generated by the conventional method based on reverse transcriptase PCR reaction (RQ-PCR) for BCR-ABL1 and total ABL1, with TaqMan chemistry and with Applied Biosystems instrument. We demonstrated the dPCR is high-sensitive (able to detect a single copy of BCR-ABL1) and reliable (results are comparable to those obtained by BCR-ABL1 quantification with conventional technology), allowing an accurate monitoring of BCR-ABL1-positive ALL patients in complete remission.

Soverini S, De Benedittis C, Papayannidis C, et al.
Drug resistance and BCR-ABL kinase domain mutations in Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia from the imatinib to the second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor era: The main changes are in the type of mutations, but not in the frequency of mutation involvement.
Cancer. 2014; 120(7):1002-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) frequently relapse on imatinib with acquisition of BCR-ABL kinase domain (KD) mutations. To analyze the changes that second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have brought in mutation frequency and type, a database review was undertaken of the results of all the BCR-ABL KD mutation analyses performed in the authors' laboratory from January 2004 to January 2013.
METHODS: Interrogation of the database retrieved 450 mutation analyses in 272 patients with Ph+ ALL. Prescreening of samples was performed with denaturing high-performance liquid chromatography (D-HPLC), followed by direct sequencing of D-HPLC-positive cases.
RESULTS: BCR-ABL KD mutations were detected in 70% of imatinib-resistant patients, with T315I, E255K, and Y253H mutations accounting for 75% of cases. Seventy-eight percent of the patients reported to be resistant to second-generation TKIs after imatinib failure were positive for mutations, and 58% of them had multiple mutations. Analysis of patients relapsing on dasatinib revealed a newly acquired T315I mutation in almost two-thirds of the cases. Direct sequencing detected no mutations at diagnosis, even in patients who relapsed after a few months.
CONCLUSIONS: Second-generation TKIs ensure a more rapid debulking of the leukemic clone and have much fewer insensitive mutations, but long-term disease control remains a problem, and the T315I mutation is revealed to be an even more frequent enemy. BCR-ABL KD mutation screening of patients with Ph+ ALL who are receiving imatinib or second-generation TKIs would be a precious ally for timely treatment optimization. In contrast, the clinical usefulness of conventional direct sequencing at diagnosis seems to be very low. American Cancer Society.

Latest Publications: BCR (cancer-related)

Mansouri L, Sutton LA, Ljungström V, et al.
Functional loss of IκBε leads to NF-κB deregulation in aggressive chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
J Exp Med. 2015; 212(6):833-43 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/12/2015 Related Publications
NF-κB is constitutively activated in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL); however, the implicated molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. Thus, we performed targeted deep sequencing of 18 core complex genes within the NF-κB pathway in a discovery and validation CLL cohort totaling 315 cases. The most frequently mutated gene was NFKBIE (21/315 cases; 7%), which encodes IκBε, a negative regulator of NF-κB in normal B cells. Strikingly, 13 of these cases carried an identical 4-bp frameshift deletion, resulting in a truncated protein. Screening of an additional 377 CLL cases revealed that NFKBIE aberrations predominated in poor-prognostic patients and were associated with inferior outcome. Minor subclones and/or clonal evolution were also observed, thus potentially linking this recurrent event to disease progression. Compared with wild-type patients, NFKBIE-deleted cases showed reduced IκBε protein levels and decreased p65 inhibition, along with increased phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of p65. Considering the central role of B cell receptor (BcR) signaling in CLL pathobiology, it is notable that IκBε loss was enriched in aggressive cases with distinctive stereotyped BcR, likely contributing to their poor prognosis, and leading to an altered response to BcR inhibitors. Because NFKBIE deletions were observed in several other B cell lymphomas, our findings suggest a novel common mechanism of NF-κB deregulation during lymphomagenesis.

Shagisultanova E, Gaponova AV, Gabbasov R, et al.
Preclinical and clinical studies of the NEDD9 scaffold protein in cancer and other diseases.
Gene. 2015; 567(1):1-11 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2016 Related Publications
Cancer progression requires a significant reprogramming of cellular signaling to support the essential tumor-specific processes that include hyperproliferation, invasion (for solid tumors) and survival of metastatic colonies. NEDD9 (also known as CasL and HEF1) encodes a multi-domain scaffolding protein that assembles signaling complexes regulating multiple cellular processes relevant to cancer. These include responsiveness to signals emanating from the T and B cell receptors, integrins, chemokine receptors, and receptor tyrosine kinases, as well as cytoplasmic oncogenes such as BCR-ABL and FAK- and SRC-family kinases. Downstream, NEDD9 regulation of partners including CRKL, WAVE, PI3K/AKT, ERK, E-cadherin, Aurora-A (AURKA), HDAC6, and others allow NEDD9 to influence functions as pleiotropic as migration, invasion, survival, ciliary resorption, and mitosis. In this review, we summarize a growing body of preclinical and clinical data that indicate that while NEDD9 is itself non-oncogenic, changes in expression of NEDD9 (most commonly elevation of expression) are common features of tumors, and directly impact tumor aggressiveness, metastasis, and response to at least some targeted agents inhibiting NEDD9-interacting proteins. These data strongly support the relevance of further development of NEDD9 as a biomarker for therapeutic resistance. Finally, we briefly discuss emerging evidence supporting involvement of NEDD9 in additional pathological conditions, including stroke and polycystic kidney disease.

Welner RS, Amabile G, Bararia D, et al.
Treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia by blocking cytokine alterations found in normal stem and progenitor cells.
Cancer Cell. 2015; 27(5):671-81 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 11/05/2016 Related Publications
Leukemic cells disrupt normal patterns of blood cell formation, but little is understood about the mechanism. We investigated whether leukemic cells alter functions of normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. Exposure to chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) caused normal mouse hematopoietic progenitor cells to divide more readily, altered their differentiation, and reduced their reconstitution and self-renewal potential. Interestingly, the normal bystander cells acquired gene expression patterns resembling their malignant counterparts. Therefore, much of the leukemia signature is mediated by extrinsic factors. Indeed, IL-6 was responsible for most of these changes. Compatible results were obtained when human CML were cultured with normal human hematopoietic progenitor cells. Furthermore, neutralization of IL-6 prevented these changes and treated the disease.

Maggi LB, Weber JD
Targeting PTEN-defined breast cancers with a one-two punch.
Breast Cancer Res. 2015; 17:51 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 11/05/2016 Related Publications
With tremendous advances in sequencing and analysis in recent years, a wealth of genetic information has become available to identify and classify breast cancer into five main subtypes - luminal A, luminal B, claudin-low, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-enriched, and basal-like. Current treatment decisions are often based on these classifications, and while more beneficial than any single treatment for all breast cancers, targeted therapeutics have exhibited limited success with most of the subtypes. Luminal B breast cancers are associated with early relapse following endocrine therapy and often exhibit a poor prognosis that is similar to that of the aggressive basal-like breast cancers. Identifying genetic components that contribute to the luminal B endocrine resistant phenotype has become imperative. To this end, numerous groups have identified activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway as a common recurring event in luminal B cancers with poor outcome. Examining the pathways downstream of PI3K, Fu and colleagues have recreated a human model of the luminal B subtype of breast cancer. The authors were able to reduce expression of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), the negative regulator of PI3K, using inducible short hairpin RNAs. By varying the expression of PTEN, the authors effectively conferred endocrine resistance and recapitulated the luminal B gene expression signature. Using this system in vitro and in vivo, they then tested the ability of selective kinase inhibitors downstream of PI3K to enhance current endocrine therapies. A combination of fulvestrant, which blocks ligand-dependent and -independent estrogen receptor signaling, with protein kinase B inhibition was found to overcome endocrine resistance. These findings squarely place PTEN expression levels at the nexus of luminal B breast cancers and indicates that patients with PTEN-low estrogen receptor-positive tumors might benefit from combined endocrine and PI3K pathway therapies.

Vitali C, Bassani C, Chiodoni C, et al.
SOCS2 Controls Proliferation and Stemness of Hematopoietic Cells under Stress Conditions and Its Deregulation Marks Unfavorable Acute Leukemias.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(11):2387-99 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) promptly adapt hematopoiesis to stress conditions, such as infection and cancer, replenishing bone marrow-derived circulating populations, while preserving the stem cell reservoir. SOCS2, a feedback inhibitor of JAK-STAT pathways, is expressed in most primitive HSC and is upregulated in response to STAT5-inducing cytokines. We demonstrate that Socs2 deficiency unleashes HSC proliferation in vitro, sustaining STAT5 phosphorylation in response to IL3, thrombopoietin, and GM-CSF. In vivo, SOCS2 deficiency leads to unrestricted myelopoietic response to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and, in turn, induces exhaustion of long-term HSC function along serial bone marrow transplantations. The emerging role of SOCS2 in HSC under stress conditions prompted the investigation of malignant hematopoiesis. High levels of SOCS2 characterize unfavorable subsets of acute myeloid and lymphoblastic leukemias, such as those with MLL and BCR/ABL abnormalities, and correlate with the enrichment of genes belonging to hematopoietic and leukemic stemness signatures. In this setting, SOCS2 and its correlated genes are part of regulatory networks fronted by IKZF1/Ikaros and MEF2C, two transcriptional regulators involved in normal and leukemic hematopoiesis that have never been linked to SOCS2. Accordingly, a comparison of murine wt and Socs2(-/-) HSC gene expression in response to 5-FU revealed a significant overlap with the molecular programs that correlate with SOCS2 expression in leukemias, particularly with the oncogenic pathways and with the IKZF1/Ikaros and MEF2C-predicted targets. Lentiviral gene transduction of murine hematopoietic precursors with Mef2c, but not with Ikzf1, induces Socs2 upregulation, unveiling a direct control exerted by Mef2c over Socs2 expression.

Selimoglu-Buet D, Wagner-Ballon O, Saada V, et al.
Characteristic repartition of monocyte subsets as a diagnostic signature of chronic myelomonocytic leukemia.
Blood. 2015; 125(23):3618-26 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 11/05/2016 Related Publications
Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) is a myelodysplastic syndrome/ myeloproliferative neoplasm whose diagnosis is currently based on the elevation of peripheral blood monocytes to >1 × 10(9)/L, measured for ≥3 months. Diagnosis can be ambiguous; for example, with prefibrotic myelofibrosis or reactive monocytosis. We set up a multiparameter flow cytometry assay to distinguish CD14(+)/CD16(-) classical from CD14(+)/CD16(+) intermediate and CD14(low)/CD16(+) nonclassical monocyte subsets in peripheral blood mononucleated cells and in total blood samples. Compared with healthy donors and patients with reactive monocytosis or another hematologic malignancy, CMML patients demonstrate a characteristic increase in the fraction of CD14(+)/CD16(-) cells (cutoff value, 94.0%). The associated specificity and sensitivity values were 95.1% and 90.6% in the learning cohort (175 samples) and 94.1% and 91.9% in the validation cohort (307 samples), respectively. The accumulation of classical monocytes, which demonstrate a distinct gene expression pattern, is independent of the mutational background. Importantly, this increase disappears in patients who respond to hypomethylating agents. We conclude that an increase in the fraction of classical monocytes to >94.0% of total monocytes is a highly sensitive and specific diagnostic marker that rapidly and accurately distinguishes CMML from confounding diagnoses.

Bhang HE, Ruddy DA, Krishnamurthy Radhakrishna V, et al.
Studying clonal dynamics in response to cancer therapy using high-complexity barcoding.
Nat Med. 2015; 21(5):440-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Resistance to cancer therapies presents a significant clinical challenge. Recent studies have revealed intratumoral heterogeneity as a source of therapeutic resistance. However, it is unclear whether resistance is driven predominantly by pre-existing or de novo alterations, in part because of the resolution limits of next-generation sequencing. To address this, we developed a high-complexity barcode library, ClonTracer, which enables the high-resolution tracking of more than 1 million cancer cells under drug treatment. In two clinically relevant models, ClonTracer studies showed that the majority of resistant clones were part of small, pre-existing subpopulations that selectively escaped under therapeutic challenge. Moreover, the ClonTracer approach enabled quantitative assessment of the ability of combination treatments to suppress resistant clones. These findings suggest that resistant clones are present before treatment, which would make up-front therapeutic combinations that target non-overlapping resistance a preferred approach. Thus, ClonTracer barcoding may be a valuable tool for optimizing therapeutic regimens with the goal of curative combination therapies for cancer.

Chereda B, Melo JV
Natural course and biology of CML.
Ann Hematol. 2015; 94 Suppl 2:S107-21 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative disorder arising in the haemopoietic stem cell (HSC) compartment. This disease is characterised by a reciprocal t(9;22) chromosomal translocation, resulting in the formation of the Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome containing the BCR-ABL1 gene. As such, diagnosis and monitoring of disease involves detection of BCR-ABL1. It is the BCR-ABL1 protein, in particular its constitutively active tyrosine kinase activity, that forges the pathogenesis of CML. This aberrant kinase signalling activates downstream targets that reprogram the cell to cause uncontrolled proliferation and results in myeloid hyperplasia and 'indolent' symptoms of chronic phase (CP) CML. Without successful intervention, the disease will progress into blast crisis (BC), resembling an acute leukaemia. This advanced disease stage takes on an aggressive phenotype and is almost always fatal. The cell biology of CML is also centred on BCR-ABL1. The presence of BCR-ABL1 can explain virtually all the cellular features of the leukaemia (enhanced cell growth, inhibition of apoptosis, altered cell adhesion, growth factor independence, impaired genomic surveillance and differentiation). This article provides an overview of the clinical and cell biology of CML, and highlights key findings and unanswered questions essential for understanding this disease.

Li C, Wang Y, Xu D, et al.
E255K and G250E mutation appearing in a patient with e19a2 chronic myeloid leukemia resistant to imatinib.
Clin Lab. 2015; 61(1-2):183-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) with the e19a2 transcript coding for p230 is a rare disease. ABL1 kinase domain mutations in CML with the e19a2 rearrangement were seldom reported.
METHODS: The clinical characteristics of a 45-year-old Chinese female CML patient with e19a2 BCR/ABL1 transcript were described. The mutation on the ABL gene exons was determined by sequencing the cDNA of the μ-BCR-ABL fusion product.
RESULTS: This patient developed an acquired resistance associated with two p-BCR/ABL1 mutations (E255K and G250E) during treatment with imatinib.
CONCLUSIONS: Here, we report a CML patient with e19a2 transcripts, carrying E255K and G250E mutation and experience of nilotinib treatment. The μ-BCR/ABL1 mutation should be investigated after imatinib treatment failure.

Ma D, Fang Q, Wang P, et al.
Induction of heme oxygenase-1 by Na+-H+ exchanger 1 protein plays a crucial role in imatinib-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia cells.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(20):12558-71 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 15/05/2016 Related Publications
Resistance toward imatinib (IM) and other BCR/ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors remains troublesome in the treatment of advanced stage chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The aim of this study was to estimate the reversal effects of down-regulation of Na(+)/H(+) exchanger 1 (NHE1) on the chemoresistance of BCR-ABL-positive leukemia patients' cells and cell lines. After treatment with the specific NHE1 inhibitor cariporide to decrease intracellular pH (pHi), the heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) levels of the K562R cell line and cells from IM-insensitive CML patients decreased. HO-1, as a Bcr/Abl-dependent survival molecule in CML cells, is important for the resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors in patients with newly diagnosed CML or IM-resistant CML. Silencing PKC-β and Nrf-2 or treatment with inhibitors of p38 pathways obviously blocked NHE1-induced HO-1 expression. Furthermore, treatment with HO-1 or p38 inhibitor plus IM increased the apoptosis of the K562R cell line and IM-insensitive CML patients' cells. Inhibiting HO-1 enhanced the activation of caspase-3 and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1. Hence, the results support the anti-apoptotic role of HO-1 induced by NHE1 in the K562R cell line and IM-insensitive CML patients and provide a mechanism by which inducing HO-1 expression via the PKC-β/p38-MAPK pathway may promote tumor resistance to oxidative stress.

Chen Z, Shojaee S, Buchner M, et al.
Signalling thresholds and negative B-cell selection in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Nature. 2015; 521(7552):357-61 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/11/2015 Related Publications
B cells are selected for an intermediate level of B-cell antigen receptor (BCR) signalling strength: attenuation below minimum (for example, non-functional BCR) or hyperactivation above maximum (for example, self-reactive BCR) thresholds of signalling strength causes negative selection. In ∼25% of cases, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) cells carry the oncogenic BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase (Philadelphia chromosome positive), which mimics constitutively active pre-BCR signalling. Current therapeutic approaches are largely focused on the development of more potent tyrosine kinase inhibitors to suppress oncogenic signalling below a minimum threshold for survival. We tested the hypothesis that targeted hyperactivation--above a maximum threshold--will engage a deletional checkpoint for removal of self-reactive B cells and selectively kill ALL cells. Here we find, by testing various components of proximal pre-BCR signalling in mouse BCR-ABL1 cells, that an incremental increase of Syk tyrosine kinase activity was required and sufficient to induce cell death. Hyperactive Syk was functionally equivalent to acute activation of a self-reactive BCR on ALL cells. Despite oncogenic transformation, this basic mechanism of negative selection was still functional in ALL cells. Unlike normal pre-B cells, patient-derived ALL cells express the inhibitory receptors PECAM1, CD300A and LAIR1 at high levels. Genetic studies revealed that Pecam1, Cd300a and Lair1 are critical to calibrate oncogenic signalling strength through recruitment of the inhibitory phosphatases Ptpn6 (ref. 7) and Inpp5d (ref. 8). Using a novel small-molecule inhibitor of INPP5D (also known as SHIP1), we demonstrated that pharmacological hyperactivation of SYK and engagement of negative B-cell selection represents a promising new strategy to overcome drug resistance in human ALL.

Schneider D, Dühren-von Minden M, Alkhatib A, et al.
Lectins from opportunistic bacteria interact with acquired variable-region glycans of surface immunoglobulin in follicular lymphoma.
Blood. 2015; 125(21):3287-96 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/11/2015 Related Publications
B-cell antigen receptor (BCR) expression is a key feature of most B-cell lymphomas, but the mechanisms of BCR signal induction and the involvement of autoantigen recognition remain unclear. In follicular lymphoma (FL) B cells, BCR expression is retained despite a chromosomal translocation that links the antiapoptotic gene BCL2 to the regulatory elements of immunoglobulin genes, thereby disrupting 1 heavy-chain allele. A remarkable feature of FL-BCRs is the acquisition of potential N-glycosylation sites during somatic hypermutation. The introduced glycans carry mannose termini, which create potential novel binding sites for mannose-specific lectins. Here, we investigated the effect of N-linked variable-region glycosylation for BCR interaction with cognate antigen and with lectins of different origins. N-glycans were found to severely impair BCR specificity and affinity to the initial cognate antigen. In addition, we found that lectins from Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Burkholderia cenocepacia bind and stimulate FL cells. Human exposure to these bacteria can occur by contact with soil and water. In addition, they represent opportunistic pathogens in susceptible hosts. Understanding the role of bacterial lectins might elucidate the pathogenesis of FL and establish novel therapeutic approaches.

McClellan JS, Dove C, Gentles AJ, et al.
Reprogramming of primary human Philadelphia chromosome-positive B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells into nonleukemic macrophages.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015; 112(13):4074-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
BCR-ABL1(+) precursor B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCR-ABL1(+) B-ALL) is an aggressive hematopoietic neoplasm characterized by a block in differentiation due in part to the somatic loss of transcription factors required for B-cell development. We hypothesized that overcoming this differentiation block by forcing cells to reprogram to the myeloid lineage would reduce the leukemogenicity of these cells. We found that primary human BCR-ABL1(+) B-ALL cells could be induced to reprogram into macrophage-like cells by exposure to myeloid differentiation-promoting cytokines in vitro or by transient expression of the myeloid transcription factor C/EBPα or PU.1. The resultant cells were clonally related to the primary leukemic blasts but resembled normal macrophages in appearance, immunophenotype, gene expression, and function. Most importantly, these macrophage-like cells were unable to establish disease in xenograft hosts, indicating that lineage reprogramming eliminates the leukemogenicity of BCR-ABL1(+) B-ALL cells, and suggesting a previously unidentified therapeutic strategy for this disease. Finally, we determined that myeloid reprogramming may occur to some degree in human patients by identifying primary CD14(+) monocytes/macrophages in BCR-ABL1(+) B-ALL patient samples that possess the BCR-ABL1(+) translocation and clonally recombined VDJ regions.

Geng H, Hurtz C, Lenz KB, et al.
Self-enforcing feedback activation between BCL6 and pre-B cell receptor signaling defines a distinct subtype of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Cancer Cell. 2015; 27(3):409-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
Studying 830 pre-B ALL cases from four clinical trials, we found that human ALL can be divided into two fundamentally distinct subtypes based on pre-BCR function. While absent in the majority of ALL cases, tonic pre-BCR signaling was found in 112 cases (13.5%). In these cases, tonic pre-BCR signaling induced activation of BCL6, which in turn increased pre-BCR signaling output at the transcriptional level. Interestingly, inhibition of pre-BCR-related tyrosine kinases reduced constitutive BCL6 expression and selectively killed patient-derived pre-BCR(+) ALL cells. These findings identify a genetically and phenotypically distinct subset of human ALL that critically depends on tonic pre-BCR signaling. In vivo treatment studies suggested that pre-BCR tyrosine kinase inhibitors are useful for the treatment of patients with pre-BCR(+) ALL.

Trimarchi T, Aifantis I
The pre-BCR to the rescue: therapeutic targeting of pre-B cell ALL.
Cancer Cell. 2015; 27(3):321-3 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
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.

Su X, Wang X, Liu Q, et al.
The role of Beclin 1 in SDT-induced apoptosis and autophagy in human leukemia cells.
Int J Radiat Biol. 2015; 91(6):472-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: To prove the occurrence of autophagy after treatment by protoporphyrin IX (PpIX)-mediated sonodynamic therapy (SDT) of human chronic myelogenous leukemia K562 cells as well as its relationship with apoptosis.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The 3-(4, 5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2, 5-diphenylter-trazolium bromide tetrazolium (MTT) assay was adopted to examine cytotoxicity of different treatments. Nuclear morphology changes were observed under a fluorescence microscopy with 4'-6-Diamidino-2-Phenylindole (DAPI) staining. Western blotting was used to analyze the expression of caspase-3, Beclin 1 (BECN 1) and the conversion of LC3- phosphatidylethanolamine conjugate/a cytosolic form of LC3 (LC3 II/I). Fluorescence microscope was used to identify the formation of autophagic vacuoles (AVO) during autophagy.
RESULTS: Under optimal conditions, SDT was shown to induce autophagy in K562 cells, which caused the up-regulation of Beclin-1 and the formation of AVO. In addition, pre-treatment of cancer cells with Beclin 1-targeted short hairpin RNA (Beclin 1 shRNA) was shown to reduce the level of LC3-II accumulation and staining with punctate spots of monodansylcadaverine (MDC) staining. Besides, the cytotoxic effect of SDT was significantly increased by Beclin 1 shRNA. Furthermore, studies showed a marked effect on the apoptosis of cells by Beclin 1 shRNA to sonodamage with increased DAPI staining and caspase-3 cleavage.
CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrated that SDT significantly induced autophagy of K562 cells, probably to protect the K562 cells from sonodamage.

Kęsy J, Januszkiewicz-Lewandowska D
Genes and childhood leukemia.
Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2015; 69:302-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Leukemia is a heterogeneous hematologic malignancy originating from a multipotent hematopoietic stem cell. It ranks among the commonest cancers in childhood and is characterized by excessive proliferation and differentiation block. The process of leukemogenesis is governed by genetic changes at both the cytogenetic and molecular level. According to numerous analyses, a large spectrum of mutations and rearrangements underlying the disease affect essential cellular transduction pathways, genes ensuring proper course of hematopoiesis, oncogenes, tumor suppressors and apoptosis regulators. Common lesions include translocations to T cell receptor (TCR) loci in T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), mutations of transcription factors regulating B-lineage development and cell maturation in B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) (PAX5, TCF3, EBF1, etc.), aberrational disruption of genes coding for transcription factors and coactivators in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) (e.g. CBF) or BCR-ABL1 fusion and activation of multiple kinases in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). These alterations severely impair cell function. Broadening knowledge of the genetic background gives an insight into the pathobiology of a disease and allows for a better understanding of it. An appropriate investigation of genomic events yields diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic implications. Broadening knowledge of the pathogenesis of leukemia seems to be a promising contribution to precise stratification of patients, reducing the toxicity and adverse effects caused by medical intervention, treatment personalization and introduction of targeted therapy accessible to a wide range of patients.

Ferreira AF, de Oliveira GL, Tognon R, et al.
Apoptosis-related gene expression profile in chronic myeloid leukemia patients after imatinib mesylate and dasatinib therapy.
Acta Haematol. 2015; 133(4):354-64 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIMS: We investigated the effects of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) on the expression of apoptosis-related genes (BCL-2 and death receptor family members) in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients.
METHODS: Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 32 healthy subjects and 26 CML patients were evaluated before and after treatment with imatinib mesylate (IM) and dasatinib (DAS) by quantitative PCR.
RESULTS: Anti-apoptotic genes (c-FLIP and MCL-1) were overexpressed and the pro-apoptotic BIK was reduced in CML patients. Expression of BMF, A1, c-FLIP, MCL-1, CIAP-2 and CIAP-1 was modulated by DAS. In IM-resistant patients, expression of A1, c-FLIP, CIAP-1 and MCL-1 was upregulated, and BCL-2, CIAP-2, BAK, BAX, BIK and FASL expression was downregulated.
CONCLUSION: Taken together, our results point out that, in CML, DAS interferes with the apoptotic machinery regulation. In addition, the data suggest that apoptosis-related gene expression profiles are associated with primary resistance to IM.

Hershkovitz-Rokah O, Modai S, Pasmanik-Chor M, et al.
Restoration of miR-424 suppresses BCR-ABL activity and sensitizes CML cells to imatinib treatment.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 360(2):245-56 [PubMed] Related Publications
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that participate in many biological processes by posttranscriptionally regulating gene expression. Dysregulation of miRNA expression has been shown to be typical of many neoplasms. Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a disorder of hematopoietic stem cells carrying the Philadelphia (Ph) chromosome and an oncogenic BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase fusion gene. While the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) like imatinib has revolutionized treatment of CML, it has become increasingly clear in recent years that TKI treatment alone will not be curative in many cases. Thus, further dissection of the regulatory networks that drive BCR-ABL-induced malignant transformation may help to identify other novel therapeutic approaches that complement TKI treatment. In this study we demonstrate that the expression of miR-424 is markedly low in CML cell lines and patient samples at time of diagnosis. With the aid of bioinformatics analysis we revealed a conserved target site for miR-424 in the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of the ABL gene. Via luciferase assays, we showed that miR-424 directly targets BCR-ABL. Overexpression of miR-424 was shown to suppress proliferation and induce apoptosis of K562 cells as well as sensitize these cells to imatinib treatment. These findings strongly suggest that miR-424 acts as a tumor suppressor by downregulating BCR-ABL expression. Up-regulation of miR-424 in CML cells may therefore have a therapeutic effect against this disease.

Pemovska T, Johnson E, Kontro M, et al.
Axitinib effectively inhibits BCR-ABL1(T315I) with a distinct binding conformation.
Nature. 2015; 519(7541):102-5 [PubMed] Related Publications
The BCR-ABL1 fusion gene is a driver oncogene in chronic myeloid leukaemia and 30-50% of cases of adult acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Introduction of ABL1 kinase inhibitors (for example, imatinib) has markedly improved patient survival, but acquired drug resistance remains a challenge. Point mutations in the ABL1 kinase domain weaken inhibitor binding and represent the most common clinical resistance mechanism. The BCR-ABL1 kinase domain gatekeeper mutation Thr315Ile (T315I) confers resistance to all approved ABL1 inhibitors except ponatinib, which has toxicity limitations. Here we combine comprehensive drug sensitivity and resistance profiling of patient cells ex vivo with structural analysis to establish the VEGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor axitinib as a selective and effective inhibitor for T315I-mutant BCR-ABL1-driven leukaemia. Axitinib potently inhibited BCR-ABL1(T315I), at both biochemical and cellular levels, by binding to the active form of ABL1(T315I) in a mutation-selective binding mode. These findings suggest that the T315I mutation shifts the conformational equilibrium of the kinase in favour of an active (DFG-in) A-loop conformation, which has more optimal binding interactions with axitinib. Treatment of a T315I chronic myeloid leukaemia patient with axitinib resulted in a rapid reduction of T315I-positive cells from bone marrow. Taken together, our findings demonstrate an unexpected opportunity to repurpose axitinib, an anti-angiogenic drug approved for renal cancer, as an inhibitor for ABL1 gatekeeper mutant drug-resistant leukaemia patients. This study shows that wild-type proteins do not always sample the conformations available to disease-relevant mutant proteins and that comprehensive drug testing of patient-derived cells can identify unpredictable, clinically significant drug-repositioning opportunities.

Cross NC, White HE, Colomer D, et al.
Laboratory recommendations for scoring deep molecular responses following treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia.
Leukemia. 2015; 29(5):999-1003 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
Treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) with tyrosine kinase inhibitors has advanced to a stage where many patients achieve very low or undetectable levels of disease. Remarkably, some of these patients remain in sustained remission when treatment is withdrawn, suggesting that they may be at least operationally cured of their disease. Accurate definition of deep molecular responses (MRs) is therefore increasingly important for optimal patient management and comparison of independent data sets. We previously published proposals for broad standardized definitions of MR at different levels of sensitivity. Here we present detailed laboratory recommendations, developed as part of the European Treatment and Outcome Study for CML (EUTOS), to enable testing laboratories to score MR in a reproducible manner for CML patients expressing the most common BCR-ABL1 variants.

Bansal P, Ghalaut VS, Sharma TK, et al.
Status of leptin in MBCR-ABL p210 positive chronic myeloid leukemia patients before and after imatinib therapy: a conflicting scenario.
Clin Lab. 2014; 60(11):1845-52 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a myeoloproliferative disorder, is characterized by the presence of the fusion gene BCR-ABL in hematopoietic cells. Leptin, considered a link between cancer and obesity, has been reported to be actively involved in hemopoiesis and pathophysiology of CML. There are few and conflicting reports about the status of serum leptin levels and recently alteration in leptin has been reported due to imatinib mesylate.
METHODS: Leptin and CRP were estimated in 30 (male: 20; female: 10) newly diagnosed and confirmed MBCR- ABL p210 positive CML patients before and after 3 months of therapy by commercial enzyme linked immunosorbent assays. Leptin levels were compared with 30 (male: 20; female: 10) age matched healthy controls accounting for the differences due BMI and gender.
RESULTS: Leptin/BMI ratio was significantly raised in both male and female chronic phase patients as compared to controls (p < 0.001, p = 0.048) and accelerated phase patients as compared to controls (males, p < 0.001; females, p < 0.001). The normal gender difference and dependence on BMI was lost in patients. In patients, who failed to achieve hematological baseline, leptin/BMI was higher only in male patients (p = 0.012). Leptin/BMI also correlat- ed with TLC and blast percentage (TLC, R2 = 0.412, p = 0.001; Blast %, R2 = 0.408, p < 0.001). There was no correlation between leptin and CRP levels. Levels decreased significantly after complete hematological remission in both males and females (p = 0.001, p = 0.028). Levels after 3 months of imatinib therapy were significantly higher than controls in all patients not in remission (males, p < 0.001; females, p = 0.018) but only in male patients in re- mission (p = 0.002).
CONCLUSIONS: Leptin levels were increased in CML patients. The findings suggest a possible role of leptin in patho- genesis of CML or disease progression independent of inflammatory state or reactionary rise. Imatinib itself may increase leptin levels, and, as leptin plays an active role in the pathophysiology of CML, this conflicting scenario needs further investigation. Alterations in leptin need to be investigated cautiously accounting for confounding and differences due to BMI and gender.

Shinohara H, Taniguchi K, Kumazaki M, et al.
Anti-cancer fatty-acid derivative induces autophagic cell death through modulation of PKM isoform expression profile mediated by bcr-abl in chronic myeloid leukemia.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 360(1):28-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
The fusion gene bcr-abl develops chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), and stimulates PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling, leading to impaired autophagy. PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling also plays an important role in cell metabolism. The Warburg effect is a well-recognized hallmark of cancer energy metabolism, and is regulated by the mTOR/c-Myc/hnRNP/PKM signaling cascade. To develop a new strategy for the treatment of CML, we investigated the associations among bcr-abl, the cascade related to cancer energy metabolism, and autophagy induced by a fatty-acid derivative that we had previously reported as being an autophagy inducer. Here we report that a fatty-acid derivative, AIC-47, induced transcriptional repression of the bcr-abl gene and modulated the expression profile of PKM isoforms, resulting in autophagic cell death. We show that c-Myc functioned as a transcriptional activator of bcr-abl, and regulated the hnRNP/PKM cascade. AIC-47, acting through the PPARγ/β-catenin pathway, induced down-regulation of c-Myc, leading to the disruption of the bcr-abl/mTOR/hnRNP signaling pathway, and switching of the expression of PKM2 to PKM1. This switching caused autophagic cell death through an increase in the ROS level. Our findings suggest that AIC-47 induced autophagic cell death through the PPARγ/β-catenin/bcr-abl/mTOR/hnRNP/PKM cascade.

Till KJ, Pettitt AR, Slupsky JR
Expression of functional sphingosine-1 phosphate receptor-1 is reduced by B cell receptor signaling and increased by inhibition of PI3 kinase δ but not SYK or BTK in chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells.
J Immunol. 2015; 194(5):2439-46 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
BCR signaling pathway inhibitors such as ibrutinib, idelalisib, and fostamatinib (respective inhibitors of Bruton's tyrosine kinase, PI3Kδ, and spleen tyrosine kinase) represent a significant therapeutic advance in B cell malignancies, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). These drugs are distinctive in increasing blood lymphocytes while simultaneously shrinking enlarged lymph nodes, suggesting anatomical redistribution of CLL cells from lymph nodes into the blood. However, the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are incompletely understood. In this study, we showed that the egress receptor, sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) receptor 1 (S1PR1), was expressed at low levels in normal germinal centers and CLL lymph nodes in vivo but became upregulated on normal B cells and, to a variable and lesser extent, CLL cells following in vitro incubation in S1P-free medium. Spontaneous recovery of S1PR1 expression on normal B and CLL cells was prevented by BCR cross-linking, whereas treatment of CLL cells with idelalisib increased S1PR1 expression and migration toward S1P, the greatest increase occurring in cases with unmutated IgH V region genes. Intriguingly, ibrutinib and fostamatinib had no effect on S1PR1 expression or function. Conversely, chemokine-induced migration, which requires integrin activation and is essential for the entry of lymphocytes into lymph nodes as well as their retention, was blocked by ibrutinib and fostamatinib, but not idelalisib. In summary, our results suggest that different BCR signaling inhibitors redistribute CLL cells from lymph nodes into the blood through distinct mechanisms: idelalisib actively promotes egress by upregulating S1PR1, whereas fostamatinib and ibrutinib may reduce CLL cell entry and retention by suppressing chemokine-induced integrin activation.

Skalska-Sadowska J, Januszkiewicz-Lewandowska D, Derwich K, et al.
Ph-negative isolated myeloid sarcoma with NPM1 gene mutation in adolescent with Ph-positive chronic myeloid leukemia in remission after treatment with allogeneic bone marrow transplantation and imatinib mesylate.
Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2015; 62(6):1070-1 [PubMed] Related Publications
Few patients in remission of Ph-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) develop Ph-negative MDS/AML, usually with clonal cytogenetic abnormalities. Isolated Ph-negative myeloid sarcoma (MS) is presented here as a form of such disorder, different from Ph-positive MS establishing CML relapse in blastic phase. We describe 11-year-old male who developed Ph-negative isolated MS with NPM1 mutation, remaining in complete molecular remission of Ph-positive chronic myeloid leukemia treated with allo-HSCT in first chronic phase and with imatinib and donor lymphocyte infusion in molecular relapse. The possible mechanisms of the tumor formation are reviewed with stress on importance of comprehensive molecular/cytogenetic evaluations.

Pal A, Donato NJ
Ubiquitin-specific proteases as therapeutic targets for the treatment of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res. 2014; 16(5):461 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
Key mediators of signaling pathways in breast cancer involve post-translational protein modification, primarily mediated through phosphorylation and ubiquitination. While previous studies focused on phosphorylation events, more recent analysis suggests that ubiquitin plays a parallel and equally important role in several signaling and cell regulatory events in breast cancer. Availability of new tools capable of sensitive detection of gene mutations and aberrant expression of genes and proteins coupled with gene-specific knockdown and silencing protocols have provided insight into the previously unexplored ubiquitin regulatory process within these tumors. Ubiquitin-specific proteases are one class of enzymes with protein deubiquitinating activity, making up the majority of protein deubiquitinating diversity within mammalian cells. Ubiquitin-specific proteases are also emerging as potential therapeutic targets in many diseases, including cancer. In this report, we summarize the involvement of this class of enzymes in breast cancer signaling and cell regulation and illustrate the potential for additional studies to define novel targets and approaches in breast cancer therapy.

Goncalves R, Warner WA, Luo J, Ellis MJ
New concepts in breast cancer genomics and genetics.
Breast Cancer Res. 2014; 16(5):460 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
Massively parallel DNA and RNA sequencing approaches have generated data on thousands of breast cancer genomes. In this review, we consider progress largely from the perspective of new concepts and hypotheses raised so far. These include challenges to the multistep model of breast carcinogenesis and the discovery of new defects in DNA repair through sequence analysis. Issues for functional genomics include the development of strategies to differentiate between mutations that are likely to drive carcinogenesis and bystander background mutations, as well as the importance of mechanistic studies that examine the role of mutations in genes with roles in splicing, histone methylation, and long non-coding RNA function. The application of genome-annotated patient-derived breast cancer xenografts as a potentially more reliable preclinical model is also discussed. Finally, we address the challenge of extracting medical value from genomic data. A weakness of many datasets is inadequate clinical annotation, which hampers the establishment of links between the mutation spectra and the efficacy of drugs or disease phenotypes. Tools such as dGene and the DGIdb are being developed to identify possible druggable mutations, but these programs are a work in progress since extensive molecular pharmacology is required to develop successful ‘genome-forward’ clinical trials. Examples are emerging, however, including targeting HER2 in HER2 mutant breast cancer and mutant ESR1 in ESR1 endocrine refractory luminal-type breast cancer. Finally, the integration of DNA- and RNA-based sequencing studies with mass spectrometry-based peptide sequencing and an unbiased determination of post-translational modifications promises a more complete view of the biochemistry of breast cancer cells and points toward a new discovery horizon in our understanding of the pathophysiology of this complex disease.

Khorashad JS, Eiring AM, Mason CC, et al.
shRNA library screening identifies nucleocytoplasmic transport as a mediator of BCR-ABL1 kinase-independent resistance.
Blood. 2015; 125(11):1772-81 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 30/09/2015 Related Publications
The mechanisms underlying tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) resistance in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients lacking explanatory BCR-ABL1 kinase domain mutations are incompletely understood. To identify mechanisms of TKI resistance that are independent of BCR-ABL1 kinase activity, we introduced a lentiviral short hairpin RNA (shRNA) library targeting ∼5000 cell signaling genes into K562(R), a CML cell line with BCR-ABL1 kinase-independent TKI resistance expressing exclusively native BCR-ABL1. A customized algorithm identified genes whose shRNA-mediated knockdown markedly impaired growth of K562(R) cells compared with TKI-sensitive controls. Among the top candidates were 2 components of the nucleocytoplasmic transport complex, RAN and XPO1 (CRM1). shRNA-mediated RAN inhibition or treatment of cells with the XPO1 inhibitor, KPT-330 (Selinexor), increased the imatinib sensitivity of CML cell lines with kinase-independent TKI resistance. Inhibition of either RAN or XPO1 impaired colony formation of CD34(+) cells from newly diagnosed and TKI-resistant CML patients in the presence of imatinib, without effects on CD34(+) cells from normal cord blood or from a patient harboring the BCR-ABL1(T315I) mutant. These data implicate RAN in BCR-ABL1 kinase-independent imatinib resistance and show that shRNA library screens are useful to identify alternative pathways critical to drug resistance in CML.

Iacovelli S, Hug E, Bennardo S, et al.
Two types of BCR interactions are positively selected during leukemia development in the Eμ-TCL1 transgenic mouse model of CLL.
Blood. 2015; 125(10):1578-88 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 05/03/2016 Related Publications
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a common B-cell malignancy characterized by a highly variable course and outcome. The disease is believed to be driven by B-cell receptor (BCR) signals generated by external antigens and/or cell-autonomous BCR interactions, but direct in vivo evidence for this is still lacking. To further define the role of the BCR pathway in the development and progression of CLL, we evaluated the capacity of different types of antigen/BCR interactions to induce leukemia in the Eμ-TCL1 transgenic mouse model. We show that cell autonomous signaling capacity is a uniform characteristic of the leukemia-derived BCRs and represents a prerequisite for CLL development. Low-affinity BCR interactions with autoantigens generated during apoptosis are also positively selected, suggesting that they contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease. In contrast, high-affinity BCR interactions are not selected, regardless of antigen form or presentation. We also show that the capacity of the leukemic cells to respond to cognate antigen correlates inversely with time to leukemia development, suggesting that signals induced by external antigen increase the aggressiveness of the disease. Collectively, these findings provide in vivo evidence that the BCR pathway drives the development and can influence the clinical course of CLL.

Musilova K, Mraz M
MicroRNAs in B-cell lymphomas: how a complex biology gets more complex.
Leukemia. 2015; 29(5):1004-17 [PubMed] Related Publications
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) represent important regulators of gene expression besides transcriptional control. miRNA regulation can be involved in the cell developmental fate decisions, but can also have more subtle roles in buffering stochastic fluctuations in gene expression. They participate in pathways fundamental to B-cell development like B-cell receptor (BCR) signalling, B-cell migration/adhesion, cell-cell interactions in immune niches, and the production and class-switching of immunoglobulins. miRNAs influence B-cell maturation, generation of pre-, marginal zone, follicular, B1, plasma and memory B cells. In this review, we discuss miRNAs with essential functions in malignant B-cell development (such as miR-150, miR-155, miR-21, miR-34a, miR-17-92 and miR-15-16). We also put these miRNAs in the context of normal B-cell differentiation, as this is intimately connected to neoplastic B-cell development. We review miRNAs' role in the most common B-cell malignancies, including chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), follicular lymphoma (FL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). We focus on miR-contribution to the regulation of important signalling pathways (such as NF-κB, PI3K/AKT and TGF-β), BCR signalling and its modulators (such as PTEN, SHIP-1, ZAP-70, GAB1 and BTK), anti- and pro-apoptotic proteins (such as BCL2, MCL1, TCL1, BIM, p53 and SIRT1) and transcription factors (such as MYC, MYB, PU.1, FOXP1 and BCL6). We also discuss the association of miRNAs' expression levels with the patients' survival and response to therapy, summarizing their potential use as predictive and prognostic markers. Importantly, the targeting of miRNAs (like use of anti-miR-155 or miR-34a mimic) could provide a novel therapeutic approach as evidenced by tumour regression in xenograft mouse models and initial promising data from clinical trials.

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