- Prenatal origin of childhood AML occurs less frequently than in childhood ALL (2006)
- Background While there is enough convincing evidence in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the data on the pre-natal origin in childhood acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are less comprehensive. Our study aimed to screen Guthrie cards (neonatal blood spots) of non-infant childhood AML and ALL patients for the presence of their respective leukemic markers. Methods We analysed Guthrie cards of 12 ALL patients aged 2–6 years using immunoglobulin (Ig) and T-cell receptor (TCR) gene rearrangements (n = 15) and/or intronic breakpoints of TEL/AML1 fusion gene (n = 3). In AML patients (n = 13, age 1–14 years) PML/RARalpha (n = 4), CBFbeta/MYH11 (n = 3), AML1/ETO (n = 2), MLL/AF6 (n = 1), MLL/AF9 (n = 1) and MLL/AF10 (n = 1) fusion genes and/or internal tandem duplication of FLT3 gene (FLT3/ITD) (n = 2) were used as clonotypic markers. Assay sensitivity determined using serial dilutions of patient DNA into the DNA of a healthy donor allowed us to detect the pre-leukemic clone in Guthrie card providing 1–3 positive cells were present in the neonatal blood spot. Results In 3 patients with ALL (25%) we reproducibly detected their leukemic markers (Ig/TCR n = 2; TEL/AML1 n = 1) in the Guthrie card. We did not find patient-specific molecular markers in any patient with AML. Conclusion In the largest cohort examined so far we used identical approach for the backtracking of non-infant childhood ALL and AML. Our data suggest that either the prenatal origin of AML is less frequent or the load of pre-leukemic cells is significantly lower at birth in AML compared to ALL cases.
- Hypomethylation and expression of BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 indicative of MLL translocations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (2009)
- Background Translocations of the Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) gene occur in a subset (5%) of acute myeloid leukemias (AML), and in mixed phenotype acute leukemias in infancy - a disease with extremely poor prognosis. Animal model systems show that MLL gain of function mutations may contribute to leukemogenesis. Wild-type (wt) MLL possesses histone methyltransferase activity and functions at the level of chromatin organization by affecting the expression of specific target genes. While numerous MLL fusion proteins exert a diverse array of functions, they ultimately serve to induce transcription of specific genes. Hence, acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALL) with MLL mutations (MLLmu) exhibit characteristic gene expression profiles including high-level expression of HOXA cluster genes. Here, we aimed to relate MLL mutational status and tumor suppressor gene (TSG) methylation/expression in acute leukemia cell lines. Results Using MS-MLPA (methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification assay), methylation of 24 different TSG was analyzed in 28 MLLmu and MLLwt acute leukemia cell lines. On average, 1.8/24 TSG were methylated in MLLmu AML cells, while 6.2/24 TSG were methylated in MLLwt AML cells. Hypomethylation and expression of the TSG BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 turned out to be characteristic of MLLmu AML cell lines. MLLwt AML cell lines displayed hypermethylated TSG promoters resulting in transcriptional silencing. Demethylating agents and inhibitors of histone deacetylases restored expression of BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3, confirming epigenetic silencing of these genes in MLLwt cells. The positive correlation between MLL translocation, TSG hypomethylation and expression suggested that MLL fusion proteins were responsible for dysregulation of TSG expression in MLLmu cells. This concept was supported by our observation that Bex2 mRNA levels in MLL-ENL transgenic mouse cell lines required expression of the MLL fusion gene. Conclusion These results suggest that the conspicuous expression of the TSG BEX2, IGSF4 and TIMP3 in MLLmu AML cell lines is the consequence of altered epigenetic properties of MLL fusion proteins.
- Konzentration aufs Ziel : genetische Veränderungen setzen bei der Leukämie das Verhältnis von Rot und Weiß außer Kraft (2010)
- Blut steht für Leben - und für den Tod. Das ist in der Medizin nicht anders als in der Mythologie. Vor wenigen Jahrzehnten war die Diagnose Blutkrebs noch ein sicheres Todesurteil. Heute werden viele Leukämiekranke geheilt. An der Goethe-Universität setzt ein Schwerpunkt für Lymphom- und Leukämieforschung deutschlandweit Akzente bei Forschung und Diagnostik.
- A novel spliced fusion of MLL with CT45A2 in a pediatric biphenotypic acute leukemia (2010)
- Background: Abnormalities of 11q23 involving the MLL gene are found in approximately 10% of human leukemias. To date, nearly 100 different chromosome bands have been described in rearrangements involving 11q23 and 64 fusion genes have been cloned and characterized at the molecular level. In this work we present the identification of a novel MLL fusion partner in a pediatric patient with de novo biphenotypic acute leukemia. Methods: Cytogenetics, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), molecular studies (RT-PCR and LDI-PCR), and bioinformatic sequence analysis were used to characterize the CT45A2 gene as novel MLL fusion partner in pediatric acute leukemia. Results: Fluorescence in situ hybridization of the patient G-banded metaphases demonstrated a cryptic insertion of 11q23 in Xq26.3 involving the MLL gene. Breakpoint fusion analysis revealed that a DNA fragment of 653 kb from 11q23, containing MLL exons 1-9 in addition to 16 other 11q23 genes, was inserted into the upstream region of the CT45A2 gene located at Xq26.3. In addition, a deletion at Xq26.3 encompassing the 3' region of the DDX26B gene (exons 9-16) and the entire CT45A1 gene was identified. RNA analysis revealed the presence of a novel MLL-CT45A2 fusion transcript in which the first 9 exons of the MLL gene were fused in-frame to exon 2 of the CT45A2 gene, resulting in a spliced MLL fusion transcript with an intact open reading frame. The resulting chimeric transcript predicts a fusion protein where the N-terminus of MLL is fused to the entire open reading frame of CT45A2. Finally, we demonstrate that all breakpoint regions are rich in long repetitive motifs, namely LINE/L1 and SINE/Alu sequences, but all breakpoints were exclusively identified outside these repetitive DNA sequences. Conclusion: We have identified CT45A2 as a novel spliced MLL fusion partner in a pediatric patient with de novo biphenotypic acute leukemia, as a result of a cryptic insertion of 11q23 in Xq26.3. Since CT45A2 is the first Cancer/Testis antigen family gene found fused with MLL in acute leukemia, future studies addressing its biologic relevance for leukemogenesis are warranted.
- Transcriptional properties of human NANOG1 and NANOG2 in acute leukemic cells (2010)
- Transcripts of NANOG and OCT4 have been recently identified in human t(4;11) leukemia and in a model system expressing both t(4;11) fusion proteins. Moreover, downstream target genes of NANOG/OCT4/SOX2 were shown to be transcriptionally activated. However, the NANOG1 gene belongs to a gene family, including a gene tandem duplication (named NANOG2 or NANOGP1) and several pseudogenes (NANOGP2-P11). Thus, it was unclear which of the NANOG family members were transcribed in t(4;11) leukemia cells. 5'-RACE experiments revealed novel 5'-exons of NANOG1 and NANOG2, which could give rise to the expression of two different NANOG1 and three different NANOG2 protein variants. Moreover, a novel PCR-based method was established that allows distinguishing between transcripts deriving from NANOG1, NANOG2 and all other NANOG pseudogenes (P2–P11). By applying this method, we were able to demonstrate that human hematopoietic stem cells and different leukemic cells transcribe NANOG2. Furthermore, we functionally tested NANOG1 and NANOG2 protein variants by recombinant expression in 293 cells. These studies revealed that NANOG1 and NANOG2 protein variants are functionally equivalent and activate a regulatory circuit that activates specific stem cell genes. Therefore, we pose the hypothesis that the transcriptional activation of NANOG2 represents a ‘gain-of-stem cell function’ in acute leukemia.
- Bioassays to monitor taspase1 function for the identification of pharmacogenetic inhibitors (2011)
- Background: Threonine Aspartase 1 (Taspase1) mediates cleavage of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) protein and leukemia provoking MLL-fusions. In contrast to other proteases, the understanding of Taspase1's (patho)biological relevance and function is limited, since neither small molecule inhibitors nor cell based functional assays for Taspase1 are currently available. Methodology/Findings: Efficient cell-based assays to probe Taspase1 function in vivo are presented here. These are composed of glutathione S-transferase, autofluorescent protein variants, Taspase1 cleavage sites and rational combinations of nuclear import and export signals. The biosensors localize predominantly to the cytoplasm, whereas expression of biologically active Taspase1 but not of inactive Taspase1 mutants or of the protease Caspase3 triggers their proteolytic cleavage and nuclear accumulation. Compared to in vitro assays using recombinant components the in vivo assay was highly efficient. Employing an optimized nuclear translocation algorithm, the triple-color assay could be adapted to a high-throughput microscopy platform (Z'factor = 0.63). Automated high-content data analysis was used to screen a focused compound library, selected by an in silico pharmacophor screening approach, as well as a collection of fungal extracts. Screening identified two compounds, N-[2-[(4-amino-6-oxo-3H-pyrimidin-2-yl)sulfanyl]ethyl]benzenesulfonamideand 2-benzyltriazole-4,5-dicarboxylic acid, which partially inhibited Taspase1 cleavage in living cells. Additionally, the assay was exploited to probe endogenous Taspase1 in solid tumor cell models and to identify an improved consensus sequence for efficient Taspase1 cleavage. This allowed the in silico identification of novel putative Taspase1 targets. Those include the FERM Domain-Containing Protein 4B, the Tyrosine-Protein Phosphatase Zeta, and DNA Polymerase Zeta. Cleavage site recognition and proteolytic processing of these substrates were verified in the context of the biosensor. Conclusions: The assay not only allows to genetically probe Taspase1 structure function in vivo, but is also applicable for high-content screening to identify Taspase1 inhibitors. Such tools will provide novel insights into Taspase1's function and its potential therapeutic relevance.
- Molecular monitoring of minimal residual disease in two patients with MLL-rearranged acute myeloid leukemia and haploidentical transplantation after relapse (2012)
- This report describes the clinical courses of two acute myeloid leukemia patients. Both had MLL translocations, the first a t(10;11)(p11.2;q23) with MLL-AF10 and the second a t(11;19)(q23;p13.1) with MLL-ELL fusion. They achieved a clinical remission under conventional chemotherapy but relapsed shortly after end of therapy. Both had a history of invasive mycoses (one had possible pulmonary mycosis, one systemic candidiasis). Because no HLA-identical donor was available, a haploidentical transplantation was performed in both cases. Using a specially designed PCR method for the assessment of minimal residual disease (MRD), based on the quantitative detection of the individual chromosomal breakpoint in the MLL gene, all patients achieved complete and persistent molecular remission after transplantation. The immune reconstitution after transplantation is described in terms of total CD3+/CD4+, CD3+/CD8+, CD19+, and CD16+/CD56+ cell numbers over time. The KIR and HLA genotypes of donors and recipients are reported and the possibility of a KIR-mediated alloreactivity is discussed. This report illustrates that haploidentical transplantation may offer a chance of cure without chronic graft-versus-host disease in situations where no suitable HLA-identical donor is available even in a high-risk setting and shows the value of MRD monitoring in the pre- and posttransplant setting.
- Do non-genomically encoded fusion transcripts cause recurrent chromosomal translocations? (2012)
- We among others have recently demonstrated that normal cells produce “fusion mRNAs”. These fusion mRNAs do not derive from rearranged genomic loci, but rather they are derived from “early-terminated transcripts” (ETTs). Premature transcriptional termination takes place in intronic sequences that belong to “breakpoint cluster regions”. One important property of ETTs is that they exhibit an unsaturated splice donor site. This results in: (1) splicing to “cryptic exons” present in the final intron; (2) Splicing to another transcript of the same gene (intragenic trans-splicing), resulting in “exon repetitions”; (3) splicing to a transcript of another gene (intergenic trans-splicing), leading to “non-genomically encoded fusion transcripts” (NGEFTs). These NGEFTs bear the potential risk to influence DNA repair processes, since they share identical nucleotides with their DNA of origin, and thus, could be used as “guidance RNA” for DNA repair processes. Here, we present experimental data about four other genes. Three of them are associated with hemato-malignancies (ETV6, NUP98 and RUNX1), while one is associated with solid tumors (EWSR1). Our results demonstrate that all genes investigated so far (MLL, AF4, AF9, ENL, ELL, ETV6, NUP98, RUNX1 and EWSR1) display ETTs and produce transpliced mRNA species, indicating that this is a genuine property of translocating genes.
- Molecular methods for genomic analyses of variant PML-RARA or other RARA-related chromosomal translocations in acute promyelocytic leukemia (2012)
- TO THE EDITOR: We read an interesting paper by Palta et al. in a recent issue of the Korean Journal of Hematology titled, "ZBTB16-RARA variant of acute promyelocytic leukemia with tuberculosis: a case report and review of literature" . We would like to add some comments to their article and suggest additional molecular methods to confirm variant translocations in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL)....