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1578 Targeting HDAC9 Contributes to Degradation of MLL Fusion Oncoproteins in KMT2A-Rearranged Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 617. Acute Myeloid Leukemias: Biomarkers, Molecular Markers and Minimal Residual Disease in Diagnosis and Prognosis: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Translational Research
Saturday, December 9, 2023, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

Yutong Zhou1*, Yu Qian1* and Jie Jin2

1Department of Hematology, The First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China
2Department of Hematology, the First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, PR China;, Hangzhou, China

Acute myeloid leukemia with MLL rearrangement (MLLr-AML) is a highly aggressive subtype of AML. Existing treatment strategies are nonspecific and ineffective. The MLL fusion gene is one of the driver oncogenes in leukemia and is central to the pathogenesis of MLLr-AML, and more research has recently begun to focus on targeting MLL fusion proteins. Targeting MLL fusion proteins has been shown to have a tumor suppressor effect, demonstrating efficacy in preclinical models of MLLr-AML, and in 2022 Scott A Armstrong 's team suggested that degradation of MLL-AF9 can cause an increase in cell differentiation and apoptosis, confirming the efficacy of targeting MLL fusions. However, specific targets that degrade MLL fusion proteins as well as clinically translatable targeted therapies are still lacking and need to be further explored. Study confirmed that MLL-rearranged ALL cells are highly sensitive to the broad-spectrum HDAC inhibitor panobinostat. A recent clinical study by Mireia Camós' team proposed that HDAC9 has a significantly high expression in childhood MLL-rearranged B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL) and AML, but that article did not address any mechanistic studies. The potential value of HDAC9 in adult lymphoid hematologic diseases has been gradually revealed, however, the expression profile and precise molecular mechanisms of HDAC9 in adult myeloid hematologic tumors, have not been reported, which deserves to be further explored.

In order to investigate the expression and role of HDAC9 in MLLr-AML, we analyzed the second-generation sequencing data from the Beat AML dataset and found that HDAC9 has a significantly high expression in MLLr-AML, while only HDAC9 is characterized by this feature in HDAC family molecules. Further we analyzed the data of 300 adult AML specimens in our hospital (including 20 MLLr-AML patients), and the results further confirmed that only HDAC9 among the HDAC family had a significantly higher expression level in the MLLr-AML patient group than that in the Non-MLLr-AML patient group (P<0.001), and the high expression of HDAC9 in the MLLr-AML patient group was a common phenomenon and not limited to a particular class of MLL chaperone molecules. Further studies revealed that overexpression of MLL fusion proteins in HEK293T could cause up-regulation of HDAC9 protein levels, and this experiment clarified the direct correlation between the MLL fusion genes and the high expression of HDAC9.

The HDAC IIa inhibitor (TMP-269), which can target HDAC9, was significantly more sensitive in MLLr-AML cell lines than in Non-MLLr-AML cell lines, and also that MLLr-AML cell survival was dependent on HDAC9, and that knockdown of HDAC9 induced an increase in apoptosis and a slowdown in proliferation in MLLr-AML cells. We subsequently demonstrated that knockdown of HDAC9 downregulates the expression of MLL fusion proteins through degradation of MLL proteins. Furthermore, when exploring therapeutic options for targeting MLLr-AML, we found that combining the BCL-2 inhibitor Venetoclax (VEN) with an MLL-Menin specific inhibitor (MEN1i) specifically downregulated the expression of HDAC9 and had a favorable synergistic killing effect on MLLr-AML in both in vitro and in vivo models, further suggesting an important role of HDAC9 in the treatment of MLLr-AML.

To sum up, through this study, we can shed light on the role of specific HDAC molecules in MLLr-AML and provide a new potential target for the degradation of MLL fusion protein to eradicate MLLr-AML.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH