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2765 Multi-Omic Analysis Identifies Epigenetic Evolution in Relapsed Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 602. Disordered Gene Expression in Hematologic Malignancy, including Disordered Epigenetic Regulation: Poster III
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
AML, HSCs, Diseases, cell regulation, Biological Processes, white blood cells, immune cells, epigenetics, Cell Lineage, Clinically relevant, Myeloid Malignancies, genomics, integrative -omics, molecular interactions, multi-systemic interactions, pathogenesis
Monday, December 7, 2020, 7:00 AM-3:30 PM

Kevin Nuno, BS1*, Armon Azizi, BS1*, Thomas Koehnke, MD1, M. Ryan Corces, PhD2,3 and Ravi Majeti1

1Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Cancer Institute, and Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
2Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
3Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Introduction: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is associated with a poor prognosis even with aggressive treatments including high dose chemotherapy. While most patients enter clinical remission, these remissions are often short-lived leading to chemotherapy-resistant relapsed disease that accounts for the majority of deaths. We undertook a meta-analysis of published datasets consisting of 142 genotyped paired diagnosis-relapse AML samples to understand the genetic evolution of AML between the two disease states. This analysis determined that a plurality of cases exhibited the same mutations at diagnosis and relapse, and that genetically stable clones were associated with an increased probability of relapse. The finding that many cases exhibited no clonal genetic evolution upon relapse, yet exhibited chemotherapy resistance, lead us to hypothesize that epigenetic evolution plays a significant role in AML relapse. Here, our objective was to investigate the epigenetic evolution and cis and trans regulatory elements that correlate with AML relapse.

Methods: We identified 27 paired diagnosis and relapse specimens from patients treated at Stanford with high dose chemotherapy regimens. Leukemic blasts, and in some cases leukemia stem cell (LSC)-enriched fractions, were purified by FACS. Cells were then analyzed through a multi-omic platform including genotyping with a myeloid malignancy targeted panel, RNA-seq, and ATAC-seq to obtain a molecular and chromatin accessibility profile of each sample. The resulting data set was analyzed to investigate epigenetic evolution in relapsed AML.

Results: Genotyping analysis of banked AML specimens identified a similar pattern of genetic evolution as our meta-analysis, with several samples exhibiting the same mutations at diagnosis and relapse. We used an epigenetic matrix of chromatin accessibility data obtained from purified cell populations within the hematopoietic hierarchy and implemented this with the CIBERSORT algorithm to map the regulatory programs active in diagnosis and relapsed AML blasts. This analysis revealed a general trend of epigenetic states associated with more primitive cells (such as hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells) active at relapse, as opposed to more differentiated myeloid cell programs active at diagnosis.

Focusing further on samples with no genetic changes between the two disease states, we observed several samples with substantial epigenetic evolution at relapse, with AML blasts shifting from a more differentiated myeloid cell profile to that of stem and progenitor cells. These changes were associated with a loss of accessibility in PU.1 and CEBPα transcription factor motifs, with a corresponding increase in GATA and RUNX motifs, suggesting epigenetic remodeling contributes to relapse even in the absence of genetic changes. We have additionally identified various categories of relapse samples in our cohort that share similar epigenetic profiles relating to genotype; NPM1 and FLT3 double mutant samples, for example, shared active chromatin accessibility features.

Given the key importance of LSCs in AML pathogenesis and their potential role in chemotherapy resistance, we further undertook an analysis of cellular subpopulations enriched for these cells in a subset of our sample cohort. ATAC-seq analysis of CD34+CD38- cell fractions revealed these cells share many epigenetic features between samples, yet also have distinct regulatory programs from those active in leukemia non-stem cells and exhibit similar epigenetic reprogramming between diagnosis and relapse. This analysis further indicates that epigenetic evolution at relapse occurs at the single cell level, rather than reflecting selection of cellular subpopulations at relapse. Ongoing work involves identifying the specific regulatory programs upregulated in relapse samples, and LSCs specifically, to understand how these programs contribute to relapse at the gene regulatory level.

Conclusion: Our results indicate a substantial role for epigenetic evolution in AML, with the activation of more primitive stem and progenitor programs upon relapse. We have also identified epigenetic classifications for several relapse samples that correspond to genotype and characterized the regulatory programs associated with relapse. We hope this work will permit a deeper understanding of the evolutionary factors that guide AML relapse.

Disclosures: Majeti: Zenshine Pharmaceuticals: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Coherus BioSciences: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; CircBio Inc.: Research Funding; BeyondSpring Pharmaceuticals: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Stanford University: Patents & Royalties: pending patent application on CD93 CAR ; Forty-Seven Inc.: Divested equity in a private or publicly-traded company in the past 24 months; Kodikaz Therapeutic Solutions Inc.: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Gilead Sciences, Inc.: Patents & Royalties: inventor on patents related to CD47 cancer immunotherapy.

*signifies non-member of ASH