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4142 Inhibition of the Menin-MLL1 Interaction in MLL-Rearranged Primary Mixed-Phenotype Acute Leukemia Samples Promotes Leukemic Differentiation

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 618. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemias: Biomarkers, Molecular Markers and Minimal Residual Disease in Diagnosis and Prognosis: Poster III
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Lymphoid Leukemias, ALL, Translational Research, Diseases, Lymphoid Malignancies
Monday, December 12, 2022, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Katarzyna Szoltysek, PhD1,2*, Rachel L. Cameron2,3*, Anja Krippner-Heidenreich, PhD2*, Milad Rasouli2*, Jayne Y. Hehir-Kwa, PhD2*, Elizabeth K. Schweighart2*, Minoo Ashtiani2*, Janine Stutterheim, MD, PhD2, Josef Vormoor, Prof, MD, PhD2,3,4 and Olaf Heidenreich, PhD2,3*

1Maria Sklodowska-Curie Institute - Oncology Center, Gliwice Branch, Gliwice, Poland
2Princess Maxima Center for Pediatric Oncology, Utrecht, Netherlands
3Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom
4University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands

Mixed phenotype acute leukemias (MPALs) simultaneously present features typical for more than one hematological cell lineage. The rarity of such patients combined with the lack of well-defined diagnostic criteria have so far prevented the design of optimal therapy regimens resulting in the occurrence of lineage switch and therewith associated treatment failures. Rearrangements involving MLL gene (also known as KMT2A) occur in around 15% of MPAL patients (typically infants) and are associated with a very poor outcome. Moreover, several studies demonstrated dependency of MLL-rearranged (MLL-r) leukaemias on the interaction between N-terminus of MLL with Menin and its successful therapeutic targeting by small molecular weight compounds, that are currently validated in clinical trials. Here we investigated potential application of the Menin-MLL inhibitor SNDX-5613 in MLL/AF4 MPAL infants who presented with the bilineage B/Myeloid phenotype.

Using a co-culture approach with human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and media optimized for growth of lymphoid and myeloid lineages, we were able to expand and monitor primary MLL-r patient material for more than three weeks. Primary material from two MPAL patients and their lymphoid and myeloid subpopulations were analyzed for their drug responses including immunophenotypic and global transcriptomic characterization.

We observed a dramatic loss of cell numbers in response to SNDX-5613, with the IC50 value ranging from 80 to 800nM. Similar analyses of the sorted fractions revealed that the observed loss of cell numbers is mainly caused by the reduction of the lymphoid subfraction. Immunophenotypic analyses showed that surviving cells within both lymphoid and myeloid fractions are losing CD34 with simultaneous gain of the CD38 marker, suggesting cellular maturation. Treatment of the lymphoid fraction with SNDX-5613 caused a dose-dependent loss of the CD19+CD33+ cell population and a simultaneous gain of CD19+CD33-, and CD19-CD33+ cells. These data suggest the cellular origin of the myeloid fraction to be residing within the lymphoid counterpart. Interestingly, myeloid cells responded to Menin-MLL inhibition with increased surface expression of monocytic markers (e.g. CD11b, CD14, CD15), elevated RNA expression of genes involved in cell adhesion and morphological changes, indicating myeloid differentiation of the surviving cells. Moreover, transcriptomic analysis of the lymphoid subfraction revealed dose-dependent increase of the MS4A1 gene expression (encoding for CD20) suggesting simultaneous lymphoid maturation of the CD19+ proB-like blasts.

In conclusion, our study shows that Menin-MLL inhibition drives both myeloid differentiation and lymphoid maturation in MLL-r MPALs. These myeloid data are consistent with observations of differentiation syndrome as an on-target effect in current clinical trials while the phenotypic changes in the lymphoid cells are new findings. Together, these data strongly suggests that MLL-r MPAL patients could benefit from the inclusion of the Menin-MLL1 inhibitors into their treatment regimens.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH