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43 Primary U2AF1S34F Mutated Hematopoietic Cells Are Sensitive to Nonsense-Mediated RNA Decay Disruption In Vivo

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Type: Oral
Session: 604. Molecular Pharmacology and Drug Resistance: Myeloid Neoplasms: Personalized and Combinatorial Approaches to Target Vulnerabilities in Myeloid Malignancies
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Translational Research, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) , Diseases, Myeloid Malignancies
Saturday, December 9, 2023: 9:30 AM

Claudia Cabrera, BS1, Sridhar N Srivatsan2*, Abigael Cheruiyot3*, Tanzir Ahmed4*, Zheng Yang3*, Jin Shao5*, Monique Chavez, BS6*, Sarah Grieb4*, Julie Bailis, PhD7*, Zhongsheng You, PhD3* and Matthew J. Walter, MD8

1Department of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO
2Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
3Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington University in St.Louis, St. Louis
4Department of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Washington University in St.Louis, St. Louis
5Department of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, MO
6Department of Medicine, Division of Oncology, Washington University In St. Louis School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO
7Oncology Research, Amgen Inc, South Francisco, California Amgen, Inc, San Francisco
8Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO

Expression of mutant splicing factors alters RNA splicing in myeloid malignancies, including increased production of nonsense transcripts that rely on nonsense–mediated RNA decay (NMD) for clearance. Cell lines expressing spliceosome mutants are more sensitive to NMD inhibition than wild-type cells, and the differential sensitivity is partially dependent on R-loop formation. However, the impact of NMD disruption on the viability of primary hematopoietic cells with splicing factor mutations has not been tested in vivo.

We engineered mouse MLL-AF9 acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells to inducibly express a wild type (U2AF1WT) or mutant (U2AF1S34F) transgene of the U2AF1 splicing factor, and tested the effects of inhibiting the NMD pathway protein kinase, SMG1, in vivo. We injected U2AF1WT and U2AF1S34F mouse AML cells (B6, CD45.2) into congenic, irradiated secondary recipient mice (B6, CD45.1), induced transgene expression, and then treated the mice for 2 weeks with either a SMG1 inhibitor (SMG1i) at 60 mg/kg/day or vehicle. SMG1i treatment increased the overall survival (OS) of mice bearing U2AF1S34F AML cells (median OS of 53 days compared to 42 days for mice treated with vehicle; p =0.0003), but did not impact the OS of mice with U2AF1WT AML cells (median OS of 33 days for SMG1i-treated mice compared to median OS of 32 days for vehicle-treated mice, p=0.360). We extended these findings to a second cohort of mice, where we transplanted one primary U2AF1S34F banked mouse AML sample into 48 secondary recipient mice. To allow direct comparison of isogenic cells with or without U2AF1S34F expression, half the mice were treated with doxycycline to induce U2AF1S34F expression, and half of the mice did not receive doxycycline. SMG1i treatment increased the OS of mice expressing the U2AF1S34F mutant allele (median OS of 66 days, compared to median OS of 54 days for mice treated with vehicle; p<0.0001), but had no impact on survival of mice bearing AML cells where U2AF1S34F was not expressed (median OS of 50 days, compared to median OS of 52 days for mice treated with vehicle; p=0.95).

To explore the underlying mechanism for the sensitivity of spliceosome mutant cells to NMD inhibition, we first examined the effects of SMG1i treatment on cell cycle progression and cell death in primary cells. We observed that primary U2AF1S34F-expressing AML cells treated with SMG1i ex vivo (24 hours) had an increased fraction of cells in G2/M phase compared to U2AF1WT-treated cells (mean 48% vs. 11% at 100nM, respectively, p<0.001). In addition, the fraction of Annexin V+ cells was increased in U2AF1S34F-expressing cells treated with SMG1i ex vivo compared to U2AF1WT treated cells (mean fold-change at 500nM relative to DMSO 4.0 vs. 2.3, respectively, p=0.027). We then isolated primary mouse AML cells after 7 days of in vivo SMG1i treatment and analyzed R-loops (S9.6 antibody) and DNA damage (gH2AX) by immunofluorescence. SMG1i-treated U2AF1S34F cells had a marked increase in R-loop levels compared to U2AF1WT-treated cells (mean S9.6 nuclear intensity, 306.9 vs 182.6, respectively, p<0.0001). In addition, H2AX phosphorylation was increased in SMG1i-treated U2AF1S34F compared to U2AF1WT cells (mean gH2AX nuclear intensity, 136.7 vs 87.8, respectively p<0.0001). Thus, disrupting NMD in splicing factor mutant AML cells alters cell cycle progression and causes R-loop accumulation, DNA damage, and apoptotic cell death.

The NMD pathway has been implicated in the regulation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) that controls protein homeostasis and impacts cell viability. We generated K562 cell lines expressing doxycycline-inducible U2AF1S34F or U2AF1WT constructs and confirmed increased sensitivity of U2AF1S34F cells treated with SMG1i (IC50 128.1nM vs 578.5nM at 72 hours, respectively, p<0.0001). Next, we performed RNA-sequencing on U2AF1WT and U2AF1S34F cells that were treated with vehicle or SMG1i for 24 hours (n=3) and observed upregulation of endoplasmic reticulum and UPR pathway genes in SMG1i-treated U2AF1S34F compared to U2AF1WT cells (GSEA; FDR<0.01). Validation of these findings using primary mouse AML cells is ongoing, including the analysis of key regulators and protein biomarkers of the UPR pathway.

The vulnerability of primary hematopoietic cancer cells with spliceosome mutations to NMD inhibition suggests the possibility for therapeutic targeting of NMD to treat myeloid malignancies with aberrant splicing.

Disclosures: Bailis: Amgen, Inc: Current Employment, Other: Current holder of individual stocks.

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