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1356 Histone Deacetylase Inhibition Restores Therapy Response in TP53mutated Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia to Chemotherapy

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 605. Molecular Pharmacology and Drug Resistance: Lymphoid Neoplasms: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Lymphoid Leukemias, ALL, apoptosis, Translational Research, Non-Biological therapies, Chemotherapy, Combination therapy, Diseases, Therapies, Lymphoid Malignancies, Biological Processes, Study Population, Animal model
Saturday, December 10, 2022, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

Willem Cox, MSc1*, Miriam Butler, PhD2*, Dorette S van Ingen Schenau2*, Nadia Anderson2*, Lieke de Groot, BSc.2*, Laurens T van der Meer, PhD2 and Frank N van Leeuwen, PhD2

1Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Nijmegen, Netherlands
2Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Utrecht, Netherlands


Although TP53 is the most frequently mutated gene in cancer, in Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), mutations or deletions affecting TP53 are rare, with an incidence of only 3% at diagnosis. However, at relapse TP53 aberrations are found in about 12% of the patients and predict a very poor outcome. As a consequence, relapsed TP53 deleted ALL is now classified as ‘very high risk, together with t(1;19) and t(17;19) ALL.

Since p53-mediated apoptosis is an endpoint for many (cytotoxic) drugs, loss of p53 function induces therapy resistance not only to classical chemotherapeutics, but also newly introduced immunotherapies such as bi-specific T cell engagers such as Blinatumomab or CAR-T cell therapies. Therefore, there is an urgent clinical need for more effective strategies to treat TP53 aberrant relapsed ALL.


Using CRISPR/Cas9, we introduced frameshift mutations in the TP53 gene to generate isogenic wildtype and knockout models in the TP53WT B-cell precursor ALL (BCP-ALL) cell lines Nalm6 and RCH-ACV. After confirming the presence of TP53 deletions, we treated these isogenic models with a panel of treatment protocol drugs, demonstrating that TP53 loss negatively affects response to therapy to most contemporary drugs used in the treatment of relapsed ALL. To identify drug combinations that may reverse TP53 mediated therapy resistance, we assessed the viability of these isogenic models in a drug screen containing 198 (pre)clinical drugs. The most interesting targets were subsequently combined with the previously tested treatment protocol drugs to determine potential synergies. Effects on cell viability were determined by amine exposure and MTT assay and confirmed by measuring PARP cleavage. Additionally, positive drug interactions were validated in vivo using immunocompromised mice engrafted with RCH-ACV p53KO cells expressing a luciferase reporter gene.


We observed that loss of p53 protects BCP-ALL cell lines Nalm6 and RCHACV from drug-induced apoptosis, leading to increased resistance to all drugs used currently in the treatment of relapsed ALL, except for Asparaginase. In a subsequent drug screen, we found that the histone deacetylase (HDAC) 1/2 inhibitor romidepsin shows strong single agent activity at single nanomolar concentrations. Moreover, romidepsin was found to strongly synergize with contemporary ALL treatment drugs in TP53KO and TP53WT cells (Figure 1A). This effect was strongest in TP53KO cells, effectively reversing therapy resistance induced by TP53 loss. Gene expression profiling suggest that romidepsin may lead to reactivation of TP53 target genes in response to cellular stress, even in the absence of functional p53. Finally, preliminary mouse experiments using TP53 deleted RCH-ACV cells showed that romidepsin improves the response to cytarabine in TP53 aberrant leukemia in vivo (Figure 1B) without signs of added toxicity. A mouse trial testing a potential synergy between romidepsin and cytarabine using TP53 deleted patient derived xenografts (PDX) is currently underway.


Loss of p53 protects BCP-ALL cells from currently used (chemo)therapy strategies. Romidepsin can restore response to therapy in TP53 deleted ALL, presumably by reactivation of p53 target genes in response to cellular stress. Therefore, romidepsin may be used to improve therapy response in relapsed TP53 deleted ALL. Since romidepsin already has FDA approval for use in other hematological malignancies, our findings may be rapidly translated into clinical practice.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH