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2899 The Metabolic Enzyme Hexokinase 2 Localizes to the Nucleus in AML and Normal Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells to Maintain Stemness

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 617. Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Biology, Cytogenetics, and Molecular Markers in Diagnosis and Prognosis: Poster III
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
AML, Diseases, cell regulation, Biological Processes, Myeloid Malignancies
Monday, December 7, 2020, 7:00 AM-3:30 PM

Geethu Emily Thomas, PhD, MSc, BSc1, Grace Egan, MD2, Laura Garcia Prat, PhD, BSc, MSc3, Botham Aaron4*, Veronique Voisin, PhD5*, Elias Orouji6*, Jordan M Chin6*, Boaz Nachmias, MD, PhD7*, Kerstin B Kaufmann, PhD3, Fieke W Hoff, BSc8*, Neil Maclean7*, Rose Hurren, BSc7*, Xiaoming Wang7*, Marcela Gronda, MSc7*, Andrea Arruda, MSc9*, Mark D. Minden10, Gary D Bader11*, Steven M. Kornblau, MD12, John E. Dick, PhD, FRS3 and Aaron D Schimmer, MD, PhD10

1Princess Margaret Cancer Research Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
2Hospital For Sick Children, Toronto, ON, Canada
3Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network (UHN), Toronto, ON, Canada
4University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
5Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomedical Research, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
6Princess Margaret Cancer Research Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada
7Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
8Department of Pediatric Oncology/ Hematology, University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
9Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
10Leukemia Program, Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada
11The Donnelly Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
12Department of Stem Cell Transplantation, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center University of Texas, Houston, TX


Mitochondrial metabolites affect epigenetic marks, but it is largely unknown whether mitochondrial metabolic enzymes can directly localize to the nucleus to regulate stem cell function in AML. Here, we discovered that the mitochondrial enzyme, Hexokinase 2 (HK2), localizes to the nucleus in AML and normal hematopoietic stem cells to maintain stem cell function.

We searched for mitochondrial enzymes moonlighting in the nucleus using 8227 AML cells, a low passage primary AML culture model arranged in a hierarchy with functionally defined stem cells in the CD34+CD38-fraction. By immunoblotting and confocal microscopy, we detected HK2 in the nucleus of 8227 cells with higher expression in the nucleus of stem cells vs bulk cells. HK2 is the first and rate-limiting enzyme in glycolysis and phosphorylates glucose. In contrast, other metabolic enzymes including phosphofructokinase, fumarase, pyruvate kinase 2, glucose phosphate isomerase, enolase1, citrate synthase, aconitase 2, and succinate dehydrogenase were not detected in the nucleus of these cells. We also detected HK2, but not these other metabolic enzymes, in the nucleus of OCI-AML2, U937, NB4 and TEX leukemia as well as 8 of 9 primary AML samples.

Next, we tested whether nuclear HK2 was functionally important to maintain stem cell function in AML. We over-expressed HK2 tagged with nuclear localizing signals (PKKKRKV and PAAKRVKLD) in 8227 and NB4 leukemia cells. We confirmed selective over-expression of HK2 in the nucleus of these cells without increasing levels in the cytoplasm or mitochondria. Over-expression of nuclear HK2 increased clonogenic growth and inhibited retinoic acid-mediated cell differentiation without changing basal proliferation. Over expression of HK2 also increased engraftment of 8227 cells into mouse marrow. We evaluated the selective inhibition of nuclear HK2 by over-expressing HK2 with an outer mitochondrial localization signal while knocking down total endogenous HK2 with shRNA targeting the 3’UTR of HK2. Selective depletion of nuclear HK2 reduced clonogenic growth, increased AML differentiation after treatment with retinoic, and decreased the percentage of CD34+CD38- 8227 stem cells without changing basal proliferation.

To determine whether nuclear HK2 maintains stemness through its kinase activity, we over-expressed a kinase dead double mutant of nuclear HK2(D209A D657A). Nuclear kinase dead HK2 increased clonogenic growth and inhibited differentiation after retinoic acid treatment, demonstrating that HK2 maintains stemness independent of its kinase function.

To understand nuclear functions of HK2, we used proximity-dependent biotin labeling (BioID) and mass spectrometry to identify proteins that interact with nuclear HK2 and identified proteins related to chromatin organization and regulation. Therefore, we examined the impact of nuclear HK2 on chromatin accessibility using ATAC-seq. Over expression of nuclear HK2 enhanced chromatin accessibility, whereas the selective knockdown of nuclear HK2 compacted chromatin.

In summary, we discovered that HK2 localizes to nucleus of AML cells and functions independent of its kinase activity to maintain the stem/progenitor state of AML. Thus, we define a new role for mitochondrial enzymes in the regulation of leukemic stemness and differentiation.

Disclosures: Dick: Bristol-Myers Squibb/Celgene: Research Funding. Schimmer: Takeda: Honoraria, Research Funding; Novartis: Honoraria; Jazz: Honoraria; Otsuka: Honoraria; Medivir AB: Research Funding; AbbVie Pharmaceuticals: Other: owns stock .

*signifies non-member of ASH