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1429 Roles of Ribosomal S6 Kinases in Acute Leukemia and Normal Hematopoiesis

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 604. Molecular Pharmacology and Drug Resistance: Myeloid Neoplasms: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Lymphoid Leukemias, ALL, Acute Myeloid Malignancies, AML, Translational Research, hematopoiesis, Diseases, Therapies, Lymphoid Malignancies, Myeloid Malignancies, Biological Processes
Saturday, December 9, 2023, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

Kailen Mark1*, Minyoung Youn, PhD1*, Madalsa Singh1,2* and Kathleen M. Sakamoto, MD, PhD3

1Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA
2Department of Biological Sciences, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
3Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA

Ribosomal S6 kinases (RSKs) are serine-threonine kinases that are activated by the Ras/mitogen activated protein kinase signaling pathways and regulate cell proliferation and survival. There are 4 isoforms of RSK (RSK1, 2, 3, 4), and there is evidence that the isoforms mediate tissue-specific cellular functions. We hypothesized that RSK isoforms have distinct roles in hematopoiesis and evaluated RSK as a target for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

To investigate isoform expression in hematopoiesis, we sorted cord blood mononuclear cells into hematopoietic progenitor stages and quantified RSK isoform mRNA by RT-qPCR. RSK1 expression remained consistent throughout hematopoiesis, whereas RSK2 expression decreased in the more differentiated populations. RSK3 was elevated in the lymphoid-primed multipotential progenitor and common myeloid progenitor stages and was greatly reduced in the more mature megakaryocyte-erythroid progenitor population. These results suggest that RSK proteins have isoform-specific roles in hematopoiesis.

To analyze the importance of each isoform on hematopoiesis, we transduced cord blood CD34+ cells with lentiviral constructs expressing isoform-specific or control shRNAs. After liquid culture for 5 days, the cells were plated in methylcellulose media containing SCF, IL-3, GM-CSF, and EPO to determine the colony-forming potential. RSK1 and RSK2 knockdown decreased the colony-forming unit – erythroid colonies and increased the granulocyte/macrophage colony numbers. RSK3 knockdown increased the burst-forming unit – erythroid colonies and total colony numbers. After liquid culture days 8, 11, and 14, the erythroid and myeloid populations were analyzed by flow cytometry. RSK1 knockdown increased the CD11b+ and CD14+ myeloid populations and decreased the CD71+ erythroid population. RSK3 knockdown increased the erythroid population and decreased the myeloid populations. These data demonstrate that RSK1 and RSK3 have opposing effects on hematopoietic lineage determination.

Overexpression of RSK proteins leads to aberrant cell survival and proliferation in many cancers including leukemia. We have previously reported that RSK and phosphorylated RSK are elevated in pediatric AML and are associated with a worse prognosis. There are only two orally bioavailable RSK inhibitors that have moved to phase I clinical trials: TAS0612 and PMD-026. TAS0612 is a multi-kinase inhibitor of RSK, AKT, and S6K. PMD-026 has high specificity to all four RSK isoforms. We evaluated the effects of both compounds in AML and ALL.

To determine the effects of the RSK inhibitors on AML, we treated AML cell lines and patient samples with a range of doses of PMD-026, TAS0612, or 0.1% DMSO. After 3 days, we performed CellTiter Glo assays to determine the relative viable cell number and calculate the concentration of drug that inhibits cell growth by 50% (IC50). TAS0612 had an IC50 of 0.096-0.64 µM in AML cell lines Molm13, U937, AML193, and MV4;11. To test the cytotoxicity of TAS0612 on normal hematopoiesis, we plated healthy bone marrow mononuclear cells with TAS0612 in methylcellulose media. Colony formation was not adversely affected by TAS0612 up to 1 µM. PMD-026 was effective in Molm13, Kasumi-1, and MV4;11 with an IC50 of 0.34-0.55 µM and in AML patient samples 3123 and 4192 with an IC50 of 1.5-2.3 µM. PMD-026 did not affect healthy bone marrow colony formation up to 5 µM for a 2.5- to 10-fold therapeutic window.

Furthermore, we tested the effects of RSK inhibitors in ALL. While PMD-026 was not effective, we found that B-ALL cell lines (REH, Nalm-6) and T-ALL cell lines (Loucy, Jurkat) were sensitive to RSK inhibition by TAS0612 with an IC50 of 0.056-0.19 µM. Western blot analysis of RSK protein revealed that RSK1, RSK2, and phospho-RSK proteins are elevated in ALL cell lines compared to healthy peripheral blood mononuclear cells. We are investigating the role of RSK and RSK isoforms in ALL.

We found that RSK isoform expression is modified during hematopoiesis. Isoform expression influences early-fate decisions to differentiate into erythroid and myeloid lineages. RSK inhibitors PMD-026 and TAS0612 are effective at targeting AML and ALL cells with limited cytotoxicity to healthy cells, making them promising candidates for translation into clinical trials for AML and ALL.

Disclosures: Youn: Jasper Therapeutics: Current Employment, Current equity holder in publicly-traded company.

*signifies non-member of ASH