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1336 Ras-Driven B-Cell Transformation Targets Developmental Rewiring of Cytokine to Pre-B Cell Receptor Signaling

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 603. Oncogenes and Tumor Suppressors: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Biological Processes, signal transduction
Saturday, December 1, 2018, 6:15 PM-8:15 PM
Hall GH (San Diego Convention Center)

Lai N Chan1*, Christian Hurtz, PhD2*, Huimin Geng, PhD2, Franziska Auer, PhD1, Zhengshan Chen, MD-PhD1*, Gang Xiao, PhD1*, Jae-Woong Lee, PhD1*, Kadriye Nehir Cosgun, PhD1*, B Hilda Ye, PhD3 and Markus Muschen, MD1,2,4,5

1Department of Systems Biology, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Monrovia, CA
2Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
3Department of Cell Biology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
4Department of Systems Biology, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Monrovia CA, Monrovia, CA
5Department of Systems Biology, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Monrovia CA, San Francisco, CA

Ras-pathway lesions are oncogenic drivers in ~45% of B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) cases. Activating mutations of NRAS and KRAS are oncogenic drivers in B-ALL while the BRAFV600E mutation occurs in almost all cases of B-cell hairy cell leukemia. Less frequent lesions resulting in increased ERK-signaling in B-cell malignancies include activating mutations of RAF1, MAP2K1 and the PTPN11 phosphatase as well as deleterious mutations of the Ras-GTPase activator NF1. Interestingly, increased immunoglobulin light chain gene expression was observed in B-ALL cases with RAS-pathway lesions (COG P9906), reflecting engagement of pre-B cell receptor (pre-BCR) downstream signaling. Here we tested the hypothesis that oncogenic RAS-signaling in B-ALL mimics pre-BCR-induced developmental rewiring of signal transduction at the pro-B to pre-B cell transition and identified PTPN6 and BCL6 as therapeutic targets in RAS-driven B-ALL.

During early B-cell development, pro-B cells transition from cytokine- to pre-B cell receptor (pre-BCR)-dependent survival and proliferation signals. Inducible activation of immunoglobulin (Ig) µ heavy chain (µHC) expression induced developmental progression and surface expression of Ig κ light chains. Notably, inducible activation of oncogenic NRASG12D had the same effect and resulted in increased surface expression of Ig κ light chains. Furthermore, studying genetic models for this transition revealed that both pre-BCR signaling and RAS-oncogenes suppressed cytokine receptor/STAT5-signaling and induced massive de novo expression of the proto-oncogene and transcriptional repressor BCL6. Our genetic studies revealed that the SH2-domain containing protein tyrosine phosphatase PTPN6 was activated by oncogenic RAS-signaling and essential for the switch from STAT5 to BCL6-activation. Given that oncogenic RAS activated PTPN6, we tested the role of PTPN6 in RAS-driven leukemogenesis. To this end, ablation of Ptpn6 in NRASG12D-driven B-ALL resulted in depletion of cells from cell culture in competitive-growth assays and reduced the number of colonies formed in semi-solid methylcellulose. Collectively, these findings suggest that PTPN6 represents a potential therapeutic intervention point in RAS-driven B-ALL.

In addition to PTPN6, we investigated the role of BCL6 in RAS-driven B-ALL. Aberrant activation of oncogenic RAS results in oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) characterized by induction of ARF/p53 and irreversible cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase. For oncogenic Ras-signaling, BCL6 was required to oppose ERK-mediated activation of p21, p27 and p53 checkpoint molecules in B-ALL. Here we tested the hypothesis that BCL6 bypasses the RAS-mediated OIS program to facilitate transformation. To this end, increases in number of colonies formed in semi-solid methylcellulose were observed upon inducible activation of Bcl6 in NRASG12D B-ALL cells. Furthermore, loss of Bcl6 function in NRASG12D B-ALL cells resulted in depletion of cells from cell culture in competitive growth assays and reduced colony forming ability. Importantly, expression of NRASG12D in Bcl6+/+ pre-B cells resulted in transformation and fatal leukemia in transplant recipient mice. In striking contrast, Bcl6-/- pre-B cells transduced with NRASG12D failed to initiate fatal disease in vivo. Furthermore, pharmacological inhibition of BCL6 restored sensitivity to chemotherapy in patient-derived KRASG12V B-ALL cells.

In conclusion, we identified oncogenic RAS-signaling as functional mimics of pre-BCR signaling. Oncogenic RAS induced expression of BCL6 at the expense of cytokine receptor/STAT5-signaling. Our genetic studies identified PTPN6 as a critical effector molecule of the switch from cytokine receptor to pre-BCR signaling. Importantly, we identified PTPN6 and BCL6 as potential therapeutic intervention points in RAS-driven B-ALL.

Disclosures: Lee: City Of Hope: Employment; ADC Therapuetics: Other: ADCT-301 (CD25-ADC), Research Funding.

*signifies non-member of ASH