ResearchPad - acute-lymphoblastic-leukemia https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Dissecting molecular mechanisms of resistance to NOTCH1-targeted therapy in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia xenografts]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11051 Despite substantial progress in treatment of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), mortality remains relatively high, mainly due to primary or acquired resistance to chemotherapy. Further improvements in survival demand better understanding of T-ALL biology and development of new therapeutic strategies. The Notch pathway has been involved in the pathogenesis of this disease and various therapeutic strategies are currently under development, including selective targeting of NOTCH receptors by inhibitory antibodies. We previously demonstrated that the NOTCH1-specific neutralizing antibody OMP52M51 prolongs survival in TALL patient-derived xenografts bearing NOTCH1/FBW7 mutations. However, acquired resistance to OMP52M51 eventually developed and we used patient-derived xenografts models to investigate this phenomenon. Multi-level molecular characterization of T-ALL cells resistant to NOTCH1 blockade and serial transplantation experiments uncovered heterogeneous types of resistance, not previously reported with other Notch inhibitors. In one model, resistance appeared after 156 days of treatment, it was stable and associated with loss of Notch inhibition, reduced mutational load and acquired NOTCH1 mutations potentially affecting the stability of the heterodimerization domain. Conversely, in another model resistance developed after only 43 days of treatment despite persistent down-regulation of Notch signaling and it was accompanied by modulation of lipid metabolism and reduced surface expression of NOTCH1. Our findings shed light on heterogeneous mechanisms adopted by the tumor to evade NOTCH1 blockade and support clinical implementation of antibody-based target therapy for Notch-addicted tumors.

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<![CDATA[TARP is an immunotherapeutic target in acute myeloid leukemia expressed in the leukemic stem cell compartment]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11039 Immunotherapeutic strategies targeting the rare leukemic stem cell compartment might provide salvage to the high relapse rates currently observed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We applied gene expression profiling for comparison of leukemic blasts and leukemic stem cells with their normal counterparts. Here, we show that the T-cell receptor γ chain alternate reading frame protein (TARP) is over-expressed in de novo pediatric (n=13) and adult (n=17) AML sorted leukemic stem cells and blasts compared to hematopoietic stem cells and normal myeloblasts (15 healthy controls). Moreover, TARP expression was significantly associated with a fms-like tyrosine kinase receptor-3 internal tandem duplication in pediatric AML. TARP overexpression was confirmed in AML cell lines (n=9), and was found to be absent in B-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia (n=5) and chronic myeloid leukemia (n=1). Sequencing revealed that both a classical TARP transcript, as described in breast and prostate adenocarcinoma, and an AML-specific alternative TARP transcript, were present. Protein expression levels mostly matched transcript levels. TARP was shown to reside in the cytoplasmic compartment and showed sporadic endoplasmic reticulum co-localization. TARP-T-cell receptor engineered cytotoxic T-cells in vitro killed AML cell lines and patient leukemic cells co-expressing TARP and HLA-A*0201. In conclusion, TARP qualifies as a relevant target for immunotherapeutic T-cell therapy in AML.

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<![CDATA[Impact of cytogenetic abnormalities on outcomes of adult Philadelphia-negative acute lymphoblastic leukemia after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: a study by the Acute Leukemia Working Committee of the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N2df5bf87-d76d-4137-9143-291629dba9fc

Cytogenetic risk stratification at diagnosis has long been one of the most useful tools to assess prognosis in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). To examine the prognostic impact of cytogenetic abnormalities on outcomes after allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation, we studied 1731 adults with Philadelphia-negative ALL in complete remission who underwent myeloablative or reduced intensity/non-myeloablative conditioning transplant from unrelated or matched sibling donors reported to the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research. A total of 632 patients had abnormal conventional metaphase cytogenetics. The leukemia-free survival and overall survival rates at 5 years after transplantation in patients with abnormal cytogenetics were 40% and 42%, respectively, which were similar to those in patients with a normal karyotype. Of the previously established cytogenetic risk classifications, modified Medical Research Council-Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group score was the only independent prognosticator of leukemia-free survival (P=0.03). In the multivariable analysis, monosomy 7 predicted post-transplant relapse [hazard ratio (HR)=2.11; 95% confidence interval (95% CI): 1.04-4.27] and treatment failure (HR=1.97; 95% CI: 1.20-3.24). Complex karyotype was prognostic for relapse (HR=1.69; 95% CI: 1.06-2.69), whereas t(8;14) predicted treatment failure (HR=2.85; 95% CI: 1.35-6.02) and overall mortality (HR=3.03; 95% CI: 1.44-6.41). This large study suggested a novel transplant-specific cytogenetic scheme with adverse [monosomy 7, complex karyotype, del(7q), t(8;14), t(11;19), del(11q), tetraploidy/near triploidy], intermediate (normal karyotype and all other abnormalities), and favorable (high hyperdiploidy) risks to prognosticate leukemia-free survival (P=0.02). Although some previously established high-risk Philadelphia-negative cytogenetic abnormalities in ALL can be overcome by transplantation, monosomy 7, complex karyotype, and t(8;14) continue to pose significant risks and yield inferior outcomes.

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<![CDATA[Prognostic implications of additional genomic lesions in adult Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c756316d5eed0c484cb7595

To shed light onto the molecular basis of Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia and to investigate the prognostic role of additional genomic lesions, we analyzed copy number aberrations using the Cytoscan HD Array in 116 newly diagnosed adult patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia enrolled in four different GIMEMA protocols, all based on a chemotherapy-free induction strategy. This analysis showed that patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia carry an average of 7.8 lesions/case, with deletions outnumbering gains (88% versus 12%). The most common deletions were those targeting IKZF1, PAX5 and CDKN2A/B, which were detected in 84%, 36% and 32% of cases, respectively. Patients carrying simultaneous deletions of IKZF1 plus CDKN2A/B and/or PAX5 had a significantly lower disease-free survival rate (24.9% versus 43.3%; P=0.026). The only IKZF1 isoform affecting prognosis was the dominant negative one (P=0.003). Analysis of copy number aberrations showed that 18% of patients harbored MEF2C deletions, which were of two types, differing in size: the longer deletions were associated with the achievement of a complete molecular remission (P=0.05) and had a favorable impact on disease-free survival (64.3% versus 32.1% at 36 months; P=0.031). These findings retained statistical significance also in multivariate analysis (P=0.057). KRAS deletions, detected in 6% of cases, were associated with the achievement of a complete molecular remission (P=0.009). These results indicate that in adults with Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia a detailed evaluation of additional deletions - including CDKN2A/B, PAX5, IKZF1, MEF2C and KRAS - has prognostic implications and should be incorporated in the design of more personalized treatment strategies.

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<![CDATA[Transient Responses to NOTCH and TLX1/HOX11 Inhibition in T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia/Lymphoma]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daa0ab0ee8fa60ba58c6

To improve the treatment strategies of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (T-ALL), further efforts are needed to identify therapeutic targets. Dysregulated expression of HOX-type transcription factors occurs in 30–40% of cases of T-ALL. TLX1/HOX11 is the prototypical HOX-type transcription factor. TLX1 may be an attractive therapeutic target because mice that are deficient in TLX1 are healthy. To test this possibility, we developed a conditional doxycycline-regulated mouse model of TLX1-initiated T-ALL. TLX1 induced T-ALL after ∼5–7 months with penetrance of 15–60%. Similar to human TLX1-type T-ALLs, the TLX1-induced tumors were arrested at the cortical stage of T-cell development and acquired activating NOTCH1 mutations. Inhibition of NOTCH signaling abrogated growth of cell lines derived from the TLX1-induced tumors. NOTCH inhibition also transiently delayed leukemia progression in vivo. Suppression of TLX1 expression slowed the growth of TLX1 tumor cell lines. Suppression of TLX1 in vivo also transiently delayed leukemia progression. We have shown that TLX1 functions as a T-cell oncogene that is active during both the induction and the maintenance phases of leukemia. However, the effect of suppressing NOTCH or TLX1 was transient. The tumors eventually “escaped” from inhibition. These data imply that the biological pathways and gene sets impacted by TLX1 and NOTCH have largely lost their importance in the fully established tumor. They have been supplanted by stronger oncogenic pathways. Although TLX1 or NOTCH inhibitors may not be effective as single agents, they may still contribute to combination therapy for TLX1-driven acute leukemia.

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<![CDATA[IRF4 Is a Suppressor of c-Myc Induced B Cell Leukemia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dac9ab0ee8fa60bb37ed

Interferon regulatory factor 4 (IRF4) is a critical transcriptional regulator in B cell development and function. We have previously shown that IRF4, together with IRF8, orchestrates pre-B cell development by limiting pre-B cell expansion and by promoting pre-B cell differentiation. Here, we report that IRF4 suppresses c-Myc induced leukemia in EμMyc mice. Our results show that c-Myc induced leukemia was greatly accelerated in the IRF4 heterozygous mice (IRF4+/−Myc); the average age of mortality in the IRF4+/−Myc mice was only 7 to 8 weeks but was 20 weeks in the control mice. Our results show that IRF4+/−Myc leukemic cells were derived from large pre-B cells and were hyperproliferative and resistant to apoptosis. Further analysis revealed that the majority of IRF4+/−Myc leukemic cells inactivated the wild-type IRF4 allele and contained defects in Arf-p53 tumor suppressor pathway. p27kip is part of the molecular circuitry that controls pre-B cell expansion. Our results show that expression of p27kip was lost in the IRF4+/−Myc leukemic cells and reconstitution of IRF4 expression in those cells induced p27kip and inhibited their expansion. Thus, IRF4 functions as a classical tumor suppressor to inhibit c-Myc induced B cell leukemia in EμMyc mice.

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<![CDATA[Pronounced Hypoxia in Models of Murine and Human Leukemia: High Efficacy of Hypoxia-Activated Prodrug PR-104]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da8cab0ee8fa60b9e4a7

Recent studies indicate that interactions between leukemia cells and the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment promote leukemia cell survival and confer resistance to anti-leukemic drugs. There is evidence that BM microenvironment contains hypoxic areas that confer survival advantage to hematopoietic cells. In the present study we investigated whether hypoxia in leukemic BM contributes to the protective role of the BM microenvironment. We observed a marked expansion of hypoxic BM areas in immunodeficient mice engrafted with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells. Consistent with this finding, we found that hypoxia promotes chemoresistance in various ALL derived cell lines. These findings suggest to employ hypoxia-activated prodrugs to eliminate leukemia cells within hypoxic niches. Using several xenograft models, we demonstrated that administration of the hypoxia-activated dinitrobenzamide mustard, PR-104 prolonged survival and decreased leukemia burden of immune-deficient mice injected with primary acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells. Together, these findings strongly suggest that targeting hypoxia in leukemic BM is feasible and may significantly improve leukemia therapy.

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<![CDATA[A Recurrent Stop-Codon Mutation in Succinate Dehydrogenase Subunit B Gene in Normal Peripheral Blood and Childhood T-Cell Acute Leukemia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da81ab0ee8fa60b9adc3

Background

Somatic cytidine mutations in normal mammalian nuclear genes occur during antibody diversification in B lymphocytes and generate an isoform of apolipoprotein B in intestinal cells by RNA editing. Here, I describe that succinate dehydrogenase (SDH; mitochondrial complex II) subunit B gene (SDHB) is somatically mutated at a cytidine residue in normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and T-cell acute leukemia. Germ line mutations in the SDHB, SDHC or SDHD genes cause hereditary paraganglioma (PGL) tumors which show constitutive activation of homeostatic mechanisms induced by oxygen deprivation (hypoxia).

Principal Findings

To determine the prevalence of a mutation identified in the SDHB mRNA, 180 samples are tested. An SDHB stop-codon mutation c.136C>T (R46X) is present in a significant fraction (average = 5.8%, range = less than 1 to 30%, n = 52) of the mRNAs obtained from PBMCs. In contrast, the R46X mutation is present in the genomic DNA of PBMCs at very low levels. Examination of the PBMC cell-type subsets identifies monocytes and natural killer (NK) cells as primary sources of the mutant transcript, although lesser contributions also come from B and T lymphocytes. Transcript sequence analyses in leukemic cell lines derived from monocyte, NK, T and B cells indicate that the mutational mechanism targeting SDHB is operational in T-cell acute leukemia. Accordingly, substantial levels (more than 3%) of the mutant SDHB transcripts are detected in five of 20 primary childhood T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) bone marrow samples, but in none of 20 B-ALL samples. In addition, distinct heterozygous SDHB missense DNA mutations are identified in Jurkat and TALL-104 cell lines which are derived from T-ALLs.

Conclusions

The identification of a recurrent, inactivating stop-codon mutation in the SDHB gene in normal blood cells suggests that SDHB is targeted by a cytidine deaminase enzyme. The SDHB mutations in normal PBMCs and leukemic T cells might play a role in cellular pre-adaptation to hypoxia.

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<![CDATA[FLT3 Mutations in Early T-Cell Precursor ALL Characterize a Stem Cell Like Leukemia and Imply the Clinical Use of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da8dab0ee8fa60b9ec5a

Early T-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ETP-ALL) has been identified as high-risk subgroup of acute T-lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) with a high rate of FLT3-mutations in adults. To unravel the underlying pathomechanisms and the clinical course we assessed molecular alterations and clinical characteristics in a large cohort of ETP-ALL (n = 68) in comparison to non-ETP T-ALL adult patients. Interestingly, we found a high rate of FLT3-mutations in ETP-ALL samples (n = 24, 35%). Furthermore, FLT3 mutated ETP-ALL was characterized by a specific immunophenotype (CD2+/CD5-/CD13+/CD33-), a distinct gene expression pattern (aberrant expression of IGFBP7, WT1, GATA3) and mutational status (absence of NOTCH1 mutations and a low frequency, 21%, of clonal TCR rearrangements). The observed low GATA3 expression and high WT1 expression in combination with lack of NOTCH1 mutations and a low rate of TCR rearrangements point to a leukemic transformation at the pluripotent prothymocyte stage in FLT3 mutated ETP-ALL. The clinical outcome in ETP-ALL patients was poor, but encouraging in those patients with allogeneic stem cell transplantation (3-year OS: 74%). To further explore the efficacy of targeted therapies, we demonstrate that T-ALL cell lines transfected with FLT3 expression constructs were particularly sensitive to tyrosine kinase inhibitors. In conclusion, FLT3 mutated ETP-ALL defines a molecular distinct stem cell like leukemic subtype. These data warrant clinical studies with the implementation of FLT3 inhibitors in addition to early allogeneic stem cell transplantation for this high risk subgroup.

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<![CDATA[Cell Fate Decisions in Malignant Hematopoiesis: Leukemia Phenotype Is Determined by Distinct Functional Domains of the MN1 Oncogene]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da03ab0ee8fa60b74cf8

Extensive molecular profiling of leukemias and preleukemic diseases has revealed that distinct clinical entities, like acute myeloid (AML) and T-lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), share similar pathogenetic mutations. It is not well understood how the cell of origin, accompanying mutations, extracellular signals or structural differences in a mutated gene determine the phenotypic identity of leukemias. We dissected the functional aspects of different protein regions of the MN1 oncogene and their effect on the leukemic phenotype, building on the ability of MN1 to induce leukemia without accompanying mutations. We found that the most C-terminal region of MN1 was required to block myeloid differentiation at an early stage, and deletion of an extended C-terminal region resulted in loss of myeloid identity and cell differentiation along the T-cell lineage in vivo. Megakaryocytic/erythroid lineage differentiation was blocked by the N-terminal region. In addition, the N-terminus was required for proliferation and leukemogenesis in vitro and in vivo through upregulation of HoxA9, HoxA10 and Meis2. Our results provide evidence that a single oncogene can modulate cellular identity of leukemic cells based on its active gene regions. It is therefore likely that different mutations in the same oncogene may impact cell fate decisions and phenotypic appearance of malignant diseases.

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<![CDATA[IL-7 Receptor Mutations and Steroid Resistance in Pediatric T cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Genome Sequencing Study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da43ab0ee8fa60b8abc9

Background

Pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common childhood cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in children. T cell ALL (T-ALL) represents about 15% of pediatric ALL cases and is considered a high-risk disease. T-ALL is often associated with resistance to treatment, including steroids, which are currently the cornerstone for treating ALL; moreover, initial steroid response strongly predicts survival and cure. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying steroid resistance in T-ALL patients are poorly understood. In this study, we combined various genomic datasets in order to identify candidate genetic mechanisms underlying steroid resistance in children undergoing T-ALL treatment.

Methods and Findings

We performed whole genome sequencing on paired pre-treatment (diagnostic) and post-treatment (remission) samples from 13 patients, and targeted exome sequencing of pre-treatment samples from 69 additional T-ALL patients. We then integrated mutation data with copy number data for 151 mutated genes, and this integrated dataset was tested for associations of mutations with clinical outcomes and in vitro drug response. Our analysis revealed that mutations in JAK1 and KRAS, two genes encoding components of the interleukin 7 receptor (IL7R) signaling pathway, were associated with steroid resistance and poor outcome. We then sequenced JAK1, KRAS, and other genes in this pathway, including IL7R, JAK3, NF1, NRAS, and AKT, in these 69 T-ALL patients and a further 77 T-ALL patients. We identified mutations in 32% (47/146) of patients, the majority of whom had a specific T-ALL subtype (early thymic progenitor ALL or TLX). Based on the outcomes of these patients and their prednisolone responsiveness measured in vitro, we then confirmed that these mutations were associated with both steroid resistance and poor outcome.

To explore how these mutations in IL7R signaling pathway genes cause steroid resistance and subsequent poor outcome, we expressed wild-type and mutant IL7R signaling molecules in two steroid-sensitive T-ALL cell lines (SUPT1 and P12 Ichikawa cells) using inducible lentiviral expression constructs. We found that expressing mutant IL7R, JAK1, or NRAS, or wild-type NRAS or AKT, specifically induced steroid resistance without affecting sensitivity to vincristine or L-asparaginase. In contrast, wild-type IL7R, JAK1, and JAK3, as well as mutant JAK3 and mutant AKT, had no effect. We then performed a functional study to examine the mechanisms underlying steroid resistance and found that, rather than changing the steroid receptor’s ability to activate downstream targets, steroid resistance was associated with strong activation of MEK-ERK and AKT, downstream components of the IL7R signaling pathway, thereby inducing a robust antiapoptotic response by upregulating MCL1 and BCLXL expression. Both the MEK-ERK and AKT pathways also inactivate BIM, an essential molecule for steroid-induced cell death, and inhibit GSK3B, an important regulator of proapoptotic BIM. Importantly, treating our cell lines with IL7R signaling inhibitors restored steroid sensitivity. To address clinical relevance, we treated primary T-ALL cells obtained from 11 patients with steroids either alone or in combination with IL7R signaling inhibitors; we found that including a MEK, AKT, mTOR, or dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor strongly increased steroid-induced cell death. Therefore, combining these inhibitors with steroid treatment may enhance steroid sensitivity in patients with ALL. The main limitation of our study was the modest cohort size, owing to the very low incidence of T-ALL.

Conclusions

Using an unbiased sequencing approach, we found that specific mutations in IL7R signaling molecules underlie steroid resistance in T-ALL. Future prospective clinical studies should test the ability of inhibitors of MEK, AKT, mTOR, or PI3K/mTOR to restore or enhance steroid sensitivity and improve clinical outcome.

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<![CDATA[Reciprocal t(9;22) ABL/BCR Fusion Proteins: Leukemogenic Potential and Effects on B Cell Commitment]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9f4ab0ee8fa60b6fa54

Background

t(9;22) is a balanced translocation, and the chromosome 22 breakpoints (Philadelphia chromosome – Ph+) determine formation of different fusion genes that are associated with either Ph+ acute lymphatic leukemia (Ph+ ALL) or chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). The “minor” breakpoint in Ph+ ALL encodes p185BCR/ABL from der22 and p96ABL/BCR from der9. The “major” breakpoint in CML encodes p210BCR/ABL and p40ABL/BCR. Herein, we investigated the leukemogenic potential of the der9-associated p96ABL/BCR and p40ABL/BCR fusion proteins and their roles in the lineage commitment of hematopoietic stem cells in comparison to BCR/ABL.

Methodology

All t(9;22) derived proteins were retrovirally expressed in murine hematopoietic stem cells (SL cells) and human umbilical cord blood cells (UCBC). Stem cell potential was determined by replating efficiency, colony forming - spleen and competitive repopulating assays. The leukemic potential of the ABL/BCR fusion proteins was assessed by in a transduction/transplantation model. Effects on the lineage commitment and differentiation were investigated by culturing the cells under conditions driving either myeloid or lymphoid commitment. Expression of key factors of the B-cell differentiation and components of the preB-cell receptor were determined by qRT-PCR.

Principal Findings

Both p96ABL/BCR and p40ABL/BCR increased proliferation of early progenitors and the short term stem cell capacity of SL-cells and exhibited own leukemogenic potential. Interestingly, BCR/ABL gave origin exclusively to a myeloid phenotype independently from the culture conditions whereas p96ABL/BCR and to a minor extent p40ABL/BCR forced the B-cell commitment of SL-cells and UCBC.

Conclusions/Significance

Our here presented data establish the reciprocal ABL/BCR fusion proteins as second oncogenes encoded by the t(9;22) in addition to BCR/ABL and suggest that ABL/BCR contribute to the determination of the leukemic phenotype through their influence on the lineage commitment.

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<![CDATA[Co-Morbidity between Early-Onset Leukemia and Type 1 Diabetes – Suggestive of a Shared Viral Etiology?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da02ab0ee8fa60b749ca

Background

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are common early-onset malignancies. Their causes are largely unknown but infectious etiology has been implicated. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease for which infectious triggers of disease onset have been sought and increasing pointing to enteroviruses. Based on our previous results on co-morbidity between leukemia and T1D, we updated the Swedish dataset and focused on early onset leukemias in patients who had been hospitalized for T1D, comparing to those not hospitalized for T1D.

Methods and Findings

Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated for leukemia in 24,052 patients hospitalized for T1D covering years 1964 through 2008. T1D patients were included if hospitalized before age 21 years. Practically all Swedish children and adolescents with T1D are hospitalized at the start of insulin treatment. SIR for ALL was 8.30 (N = 18, 95% confidence interval 4.91–13.14) when diagnosed at age 10 to 20 years after hospitalization for T1D and it was 3.51 (13, 1.86–6.02) before hospitalization for T1D. The SIR for ALL was 19.85 (N = 33, 13.74–27.76) and that for AML was 25.28 (8, 10.80–50.06) when the leukemias were diagnosed within the year of T1D hospitalization. The SIRs increased to 38.97 (26, 25.43–57.18) and 40.11 (8, 17.13–79.42) when T1D was diagnosed between ages 10 to 20 years. No consistent time-dependent changes were found in leukemia risk.

Conclusion

A shared infectious etiology could be a plausible explanation to the observed co-morbidity. Other possible contributing factors could be insulin therapy or T1D related metabolic disturbances.

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<![CDATA[Clustering cancer gene expression data by projective clustering ensemble]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db50ab0ee8fa60bdbeb9

Gene expression data analysis has paramount implications for gene treatments, cancer diagnosis and other domains. Clustering is an important and promising tool to analyze gene expression data. Gene expression data is often characterized by a large amount of genes but with limited samples, thus various projective clustering techniques and ensemble techniques have been suggested to combat with these challenges. However, it is rather challenging to synergy these two kinds of techniques together to avoid the curse of dimensionality problem and to boost the performance of gene expression data clustering. In this paper, we employ a projective clustering ensemble (PCE) to integrate the advantages of projective clustering and ensemble clustering, and to avoid the dilemma of combining multiple projective clusterings. Our experimental results on publicly available cancer gene expression data show PCE can improve the quality of clustering gene expression data by at least 4.5% (on average) than other related techniques, including dimensionality reduction based single clustering and ensemble approaches. The empirical study demonstrates that, to further boost the performance of clustering cancer gene expression data, it is necessary and promising to synergy projective clustering with ensemble clustering. PCE can serve as an effective alternative technique for clustering gene expression data.

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<![CDATA[Functional Protein Network Activation Mapping Reveals New Potential Molecular Drug Targets for Poor Prognosis Pediatric BCP-ALL]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da64ab0ee8fa60b9183e

Background

In spite of leukemia therapy improvements obtained over the last decades, therapy is not yet effective in all cases. Current approaches in Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) research focus on identifying new molecular targets to improve outcome for patients with a dismal prognosis. In this light phosphoproteomics seems to hold great promise for the identification of proteins suitable for targeted therapy.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We employed Reverse Phase Protein Microarrays to identify aberrantly activated proteins in 118 pediatric B-cell precursor (BCP)-ALL patients. Signal transduction pathways were assayed for activation/expression status of 92 key signalling proteins. We observed an increased activation/expression of several pathways involved in cell proliferation in poor clinical prognosis patients. MLL-rearranged tumours revealed BCL-2 hyperphosphorylation through AMPK activation, which indicates that AMPK could provide a functional role in inhibiting apoptosis in MLL-rearranged patients, and could be considered as a new potential therapeutic target. Second, in patients with poor clinical response to prednisone we observed the up-modulation of LCK activity with respect to patients with good response. This tyrosine-kinase can be down-modulated with clinically used inhibitors, thus modulating LCK activity could be considered for further studies as a new additional therapy for prednisone-resistant patients. Further we also found an association between high levels of CYCLIN E and relapse incidence. Moreover, CYCLIN E is more expressed in early relapsed patients, who usually show an unfavourable prognosis.

Conclusions/Significance

We conclude that functional protein pathway activation mapping revealed specific deranged signalling networks in BCP-ALL that could be potentially modulated to produce a better clinical outcome for patients resistant to standard-of-care therapies.

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<![CDATA[Multi-Agent Chemotherapy Overcomes Glucocorticoid Resistance Conferred by a BIM Deletion Polymorphism in Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989dabcab0ee8fa60baf0e2

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.

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<![CDATA[Nearest shrunken centroids via alternative genewise shrinkages]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989db52ab0ee8fa60bdc830

Nearest shrunken centroids (NSC) is a popular classification method for microarray data. NSC calculates centroids for each class and “shrinks” the centroids toward 0 using soft thresholding. Future observations are then assigned to the class with the minimum distance between the observation and the (shrunken) centroid. Under certain conditions the soft shrinkage used by NSC is equivalent to a LASSO penalty. However, this penalty can produce biased estimates when the true coefficients are large. In addition, NSC ignores the fact that multiple measures of the same gene are likely to be related to one another. We consider several alternative genewise shrinkage methods to address the aforementioned shortcomings of NSC. Three alternative penalties were considered: the smoothly clipped absolute deviation (SCAD), the adaptive LASSO (ADA), and the minimax concave penalty (MCP). We also showed that NSC can be performed in a genewise manner. Classification methods were derived for each alternative shrinkage method or alternative genewise penalty, and the performance of each new classification method was compared with that of conventional NSC on several simulated and real microarray data sets. Moreover, we applied the geometric mean approach for the alternative penalty functions. In general the alternative (genewise) penalties required fewer genes than NSC. The geometric mean of the class-specific prediction accuracies was improved, as well as the overall predictive accuracy in some cases. These results indicate that these alternative penalties should be considered when using NSC.

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<![CDATA[Gene Signature of High White Blood Cell Count in B-Precursor Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989da27ab0ee8fa60b811a2

In this study we sought to identify genetic factors associated with the presenting white blood cell (WBC) count in B-precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BP-ALL). Using ETV6-RUNX1-positive BP-ALL patient samples, a homogeneous subtype, we identified 16 differentially expressed genes based on the presenting WBC count (< 50,000/cumm vs > 50,000). We further confirmed that IL1R1, BCAR3, KCNH2, PIR, and ZDHHC23 were differentially expressed in a larger cohort of ETV6-RUNX1-negative BP-ALL patient samples. Statistical analysis demonstrated that expression levels of these genes could accurately categorize high and low WBC count subjects using two independent patient sets, representing positive and negative ETV6-RUNX1 cases. Further studies in leukemia cell line models will better delineate the role of these genes in regulating the white blood cell count and potentially identify new therapeutic targets.

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<![CDATA[Leukemia Gene Atlas – A Public Platform for Integrative Exploration of Genome-Wide Molecular Data]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989d9d5ab0ee8fa60b658f5

Leukemias are exceptionally well studied at the molecular level and a wealth of high-throughput data has been published. But further utilization of these data by researchers is severely hampered by the lack of accessible integrative tools for viewing and analysis. We developed the Leukemia Gene Atlas (LGA) as a public platform designed to support research and analysis of diverse genomic data published in the field of leukemia. With respect to leukemia research, the LGA is a unique resource with comprehensive search and browse functions. It provides extensive analysis and visualization tools for various types of molecular data. Currently, its database contains data from more than 5,800 leukemia and hematopoiesis samples generated by microarray gene expression, DNA methylation, SNP and next generation sequencing analyses. The LGA allows easy retrieval of large published data sets and thus helps to avoid redundant investigations. It is accessible at www.leukemia-gene-atlas.org.

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<![CDATA[Minimal Residual Disease at First Achievement of Complete Remission Predicts Outcome in Adult Patients with Philadelphia Chromosome-Negative Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5989daf0ab0ee8fa60bc1192

We evaluated the prognostic effect of minimal residual disease at first achievement of complete remission (MRD at CR1) in adult patients with Philadelphia chromosome-negative acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). A total of 97 patients received treatment in our center between 2007 and 2012 were retrospectively reviewed in this study. Patients were divided into two arms according to the post-remission therapy (chemotherapy alone or allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT)) they received. MRD was detected by four-color flow cytometry. We chose 0.02% and 0.2% as the cut-off points of MRD at CR1 for risk stratification using receiver operating characteristic analysis. The 3-year overall survival (OS) and leukemia free survival (LFS) rates for the whole cohort were 46.2% and 40.5%. MRD at CR1 had a significantly negative correlation with survival in both arms. Three-year OS rates in the chemotherapy arm were 70.0%, 25.2%, 0% (P = 0.003) for low, intermediate, and high levels of MRD at CR1, respectively. Three-year OS rates in the transplant arm were 81.8%, 64.3%, 27.3% (P = 0.005) for low, intermediate, and high levels of MRD at CR1, respectively. Multivariate analysis confirmed that higher level of MRD at CR1 was a significant adverse factor for OS and LFS. Compared with chemotherapy alone, allo-HSCT significantly improved LFS rates in patients with intermediate (P = 0.005) and high (P = 0.022) levels of MRD at CR1, but not patients with low level of MRD at CR1 (P = 0.851). These results suggested that MRD at CR1 could strongly predict the outcome of adult ALL. Patients with intermediate and high levels of MRD at CR1 would benefit from allo-HSCT.

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