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2221 Sirt1 Is a Novel Therapeutic Target in T-ALL

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 603. Oncogenes and Tumor Suppressors: Basic: Poster II
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
ALL, Fundamental Science, Lymphoid Leukemias, Translational Research, Diseases, Lymphoid Malignancies
Sunday, December 12, 2021, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Olga Lancho, PhD1*, Amartya Singh, PhD1*, Victoria da Silva-Diz, PhD2, Patricia Renck Nunes, PhD1*, Luca Tottone, PhD1, Shirley Luo3*, Maya Aleksandrova1*, Xiaoyang Su, Ph.D.1*, Hossein Khiabanian, PhD1* and Daniel Herranz, PharmD, PhD4

1Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
2Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers University, NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ
3Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
4Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ

T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematological malignancy that affects both children and adults. Still, 20%-50% of patients show primary resistance or relapse after treatment, and ultimately die from their disease. Aberrant NOTCH1 signaling has a major role in the pathogenesis of T-ALL, as more than 60% of T-ALL cases harbor activating mutations in the NOTCH1 gene. In this context, small-molecule γ-secretase inhibitors (GSIs), which effectively block NOTCH1 activation via inhibition of a critical intramembrane proteolytic cleavage required for NOTCH1 signaling, are being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of relapsed and refractory T-ALL. However, the clinical development of anti-NOTCH1 therapies in T-ALL has been hampered by limited and delayed therapeutic response to these drugs, underscoring the need to identify novel therapeutic targets and to develop more effective drugs for the treatment of this disease. We previously demonstrated the importance of NOTCH1-driven metabolic pathways in the response to anti-NOTCH1 therapies (gamma-secretase inhibitors, GSIs). Moreover, epigenetic plasticity has also been proposed to mediate resistance to GSIs. Thus, we postulated that central regulators that control both the metabolic and epigenetic status of cells could act as master regulators of NOTCH1-induced transformation. Indeed, our results have identified the SIRT1 histone deacetylase, a central epigenetic and metabolic regulator, as a key player in T-ALL. Analyses of gene expression profiling data from T-ALL patients revealed a significant upregulation of SIRT1 in T-ALL. Consistently, SIRT1 protein levels are significantly upregulated in T-ALL cells as compared to normal human thymus. Moreover, through the integration of GSI-washout experiments, epigenetic profiling and CRISPR/Cas9-induced experiments, we have identified a distal enhancer of Sirt1 that is bound and controlled by NOTCH1, which might help explain the broad upregulation of Sirt1 observed in T-ALL patients. Next, and to formally test the effects of Sirt1 on T-cell transformation, we generated NOTCH1-driven primary T-ALLs from different Sirt1 genetic backgrounds. In this context, our results demonstrate that Sirt1 genetic overexpression leads to accelerated kinetics of NOTCH1-induced T-ALL and promotes resistance to GSI treatment in T-ALL in vivo in a deacetylase-dependent manner. Conversely, germinal loss of Sirt1 leads to delayed T-ALL development and reduced disease penetrance. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of SIRT1 with EX-527 shows anti-leukemic and synergistic effects with NOTCH1 inhibition in T-ALL cell lines in vitro. Finally, genetic deletion of Sirt1 in already established primary isogenic Sirt1 conditional knockout leukemias leads to significant and highly synergistic anti-leukemic effects with GSI treatment in vivo. Mechanistically, acetyl-proteomics analyses revealed that acute deletion of Sirt1 consistently leads to hyperacetylation of Kat7 and Brd1, which are both part of a histone acetyltransferase complex. Indeed, Sirt1 loss results in global epigenetic changes including decreased levels of H4K12ac, which is a Kat7-target mark. Moreover, gene expression profiling analyses upon Sirt1 loss in leukemia in vivo revealed broad transcriptional changes. Gene-set enrichment analyses revealed that the transcriptional signature upon Sirt1 loss significantly correlates with the one obtained upon Kat7 loss, overall suggesting that Sirt1 loss leads to hyperacetylation of Kat7, which might be less active. Finally, our gene expression analyses also revealed a marked block in mTOR signaling, suggesting leukemia cells suffer a metabolic crisis upon Sirt1 loss. Consistently, acute deletion of Sirt1 results in prominent global metabolic changes in glycolysis, glutaminolysis and TCA, with concomitant activation of AMPK, resulting in markedly cytotoxic effects. Overall, our results reveal an oncogenic role for Sirt1 in T-ALL generation and progression, demonstrate that Sirt1 contributes to mediate resistance to anti-NOTCH1 therapies, identify a novel Notch1-Sirt1-Kat7 link and uncover Sirt1 as a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of T-ALL.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH