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504 Identification of a Novel Epigenetic Mechanism of MYC Deregulation in Smoldering and Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma Patients

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Type: Oral
Session: 602. Disordered Gene Expression and Epigenetics in Hematologic Malignancies: Basic: New mechanisms of epigenetic dysregulation in hematologic cancers
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Fundamental Science, Translational Research
Sunday, December 12, 2021: 5:45 PM

Mahshid Rahmat, PhD1*, Kendell Clement, PhD2,3,4*, Romanos Sklavenitis-Pistofidis, MD3,4, Rohan Kodgule, PhD5*, Charles Fulco, PhD6*, Jean-Baptiste Alberge, PhD1,7*, Cody J. Boehner, BS1*, Michael P. Agius, PhD8*, Elizabeth Morgan Kitzenberg9*, David Dorfman10,11*, Russell J. H. Ryan, MD5, Luca Pinello, PhD2,3,4* and Irene M. Ghobrial, MD1,3,4,8,12,13

1Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
2Molecular Pathology Unit and Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA
3Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA
4Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
5Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
6Oncology Discovery, Bristol Myers Squibb, Cambridge, MA
7Site de Recherche Intégrée sur le Cancer (SIRIC), Imaging and Longitudinal Investigations to Ameliorate Decision-making (ILIAD), INCA-DGOS-Inserm 12558, Nantes, France
8Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
9Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
10Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston
11Department of Pathology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston
12Harvard Medical School, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA
13The Center for Prevention of Progression of Blood Cancers, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA

Enhanced expression of the MYC oncogene is associated with the initiation and maintenance of many human cancers, including multiple myeloma (MM). MM is a malignancy of clonal plasma cells, in which MYC deregulation is a key event in the progression from the precursor stages of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM) to symptomatic MM. Translocation and amplification of the 8q24.21 MYC locus are known mediators of MYC deregulation at premalignant stages for some patients. However, DNA and RNA sequencing of MM patients show that cases with an intact MYC locus also exhibit MYC deregulation, indicating that additional mechanisms are involved in the deregulation of MYC in MM. Here we describe a new epigenetic mechanism of transcriptional deregulation of MYC in malignant plasma cells. We show that activation of a novel non-coding regulatory region through the binding of MM-specific transcription factors (TFs) is associated with MYC dysregulation in MM.

To define the MM-specific MYC epigenetic regulation mechanisms, we performed a high-throughput CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) screen in ANBL6 MM cells that harbor no MYC genetic aberrations. We infected ANBL6 cells with a library of >111,000 sgRNAs, tiling across ~1.2 Mb of sequence around MYC and induced expression of KRAB-dCas9 to epigenetically repress putative regulatory elements. We then sequenced the distribution of sgRNAs in the population before and after 14 passages of growth. Because the expression of MYC quantitatively tunes cellular growth, sgRNAs that reduce MYC expression are less abundant at passage 14. This screen identified a ~13 kb region that significantly reduced cellular proliferation when targeted with sgRNAs. We assessed the function of each enhancer region with individual sgRNAs in different MM cell lines and detected an 89% reduction in MYC mRNA levels on average 48 hours after activating KRAB-dCas9.

To further characterize the new enhancer region, we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)- and assay for transposase-accessible chromatin (ATAC)- sequencing on MM cell lines and malignant cells obtained from the bone marrow of 13 SMM and 8 MM patients and normal plasma cells from 3 healthy donors. We found that enhancer elements were enriched for H3K27ac and showed greater chromatin accessibility in tumor cells than normal plasma cells. Motif analysis of the enhancer region recovered putative binding sites for multiple TFs, such as IRF4 and MAF, that play key roles in MM pathogenesis. ChIP-sequencing for these enhancer-associated TFs and luciferase reporter assays targeting their binding sites confirmed the binding and involvement of IRF4 and MAF in activating enhancer elements in MM cells with intact MYC loci.

MYC abnormalities are well-known secondary genetic events that trigger the progression of precursor diseases to MM. To define the genetic status of the identified enhancer elements in malignant cells, we examined whole-genome sequencing (WGS) data of 906 MM patients from the MMRF CoMMpass cohort. We found focal amplification of the enhancer region in 2.8% (n = 26) of patients. Transcriptional analysis on the same patient cohort revealed a significant increase in MYC mRNA levels in enhancer-amplified patients compared to MM cases with no MYC aberrations. These results indicate that enhancer activity is required to induce MYC expression and progression of patients with intact MYC loci.

Collectively, our findings reveal a novel mechanism of MYC deregulation in malignant plasma cells: selective gain of chromatin accessibility at the enhancer elements and amplification of the enhancer region allow for binding of regulatory factors IRF4 and MAF, which increase the transcription of MYC in the absence of the known MYC chromosomal abnormalities. Our results point to the importance of non-coding regulatory elements and their associated TF networks as drivers of MM progression and suggest a new approach to identify predictive biomarkers and therapeutic targets that could improve patient outcomes in MM and other cancers.

Disclosures: Fulco: Bristol Myers Squibb: Current Employment. Ghobrial: AbbVie, Adaptive, Aptitude Health, BMS, Cellectar, Curio Science, Genetch, Janssen, Janssen Central American and Caribbean, Karyopharm, Medscape, Oncopeptides, Sanofi, Takeda, The Binding Site, GNS, GSK: Consultancy.

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