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1372 Kdm6a Modulates Hematopoiesis and Leukemogenesis Via Demethylase-Dependent Epigenetic Programming

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 602. Myeloid Oncogenesis: Basic: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Fundamental Science, hematopoiesis, Diseases, Myeloid Malignancies, Biological Processes, molecular biology, Study Population, Animal model
Saturday, December 9, 2023, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

Huiqiao Chen1*, He Huang2,3,4* and Haowen Xiao1,4*

1Department of Hematology, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China
2Liangzhu Laboratory, Zhejiang University Medical Center, HangZhou, China
3Bone Marrow Transplantation Center, The First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou, China
4Institute of Hematology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) maintain their differentiation by precisely regulating gene expression patterns at the transcriptional and epigenetic levels. KDM6A encodes an epigenetic regulator of the repressive chromatin mark histone 3 lysine 27 tri-methylation (H3K27me3). Growing evidence suggested the involvement of KDM6A in hematological malignancies. KDM6A mutations in leukemia frequently occur in males, reflecting that KDM6A escapes X chromosome inactivation. Therefore, female patients with single-allele loss-of-function KDM6A mutations will partially retain KDM6A expression, which is called haploinsufficiency. Furthermore, KDM6A haploinsufficiency was reported to be associated with refractory and/or relapsed leukemia, while the role of KDM6A haploinsufficiency in hematopoiesis remains unexplored.

We established kdm6a-null zebrafish using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. We found that kdm6a loss impaired HSPCs formation. kdm6a-null embryos showed reduced expression of the hemogenic endothelial and HSPC markers runx1 at 28 hours post-fertilization (hpf). Using Tg(kdrl:mCherry;cmyb:en-GFP) embryos, we also found that the number of hemogenic endothelium and emerging HSPCs in kdm6a-null was significantly decreased. To study the importance of Kdm6a-mediated demethylase activity, we ectopically expressed kdm6a constructs (wild-type kdm6a, or catalytically-dead kdm6a) in kdm6a-null embryos. The result showed that, unlike restoring effect by wild-type kdm6a, the ectopic expression of catalytically-dead kdm6a constructs (kdm6a H1134A) showed no rescue effect for decreased HSPC numbers.

Then, we aimed to understand the potential role of kdm6a haploinsufficiency in hematopoiesis and leukemogenic mechanisms. We found that zebrafish mutants that are haploinsufficient in kdm6a (kdm6a+/–) exhibited uncontrolled myeloid differentiation. The expression of myeloid-specific markers substantially increased in kdm6a+/– mutants, compared with WT siblings at 72 hpf. Confocal analysis showed that the ratio of myeloid-primed HSPCs was markedly increased in kdm6a+/– embryos compared to WT siblings. Consistently, a significant upregulation in transcripts encoding key myeloerythorid TFs including cebps, irf8, and gata1a was observed in kdm6a+/– embryonic HSPCs. Furthermore, kdm6a+/– adults exhibited the phenotype of monocytosis, which mimics chronic myelomonocytic leukemia, or exhibited the phenotype of increased progenitors, which mimics acute myeloid leukemia.

We next sorted HSPCs from WT or kdm6a+/– at 72 hpf for RNA-sequencing and ATAC-sequencing. Enrichment analysis showed transcriptional dysregulation of genes involving “Purine metabolism”, “Cysteine and methionine metabolism”, “TGF-beta signaling pathway”, and “Cell cycle”. GSEA further uncovered positive enrichment of gene sets in kdm6a+/– embryonic HSPCs, including “Oxidative phosphorylation”, “mTORC1 signaling” and “DNA repair”. These dysregulated pathways in kdm6a+/– HSPCs are highly involved in cellular homeostasis and hallmarks of aged hematopoietic system. ATAC analysis also revealed robust changes in chromatin accessibility, especially including genes related to aged hematopoietic system. Integrated RNA-seq and ATAC-seq analyses showed that the chromatin accessibility at promoters and transcription of 63 genes were decreased in kdm6a+/– HSPCs. And we found that the negative regulator of Jak-Stat signaling-socs3a was on the list. Ectopic expression of socs3a in kdm6a+/– could partially rescue the uncontrolled myeloid differentiation of HSPCs. Consistently, abnormal myeloid differentiation from kdm6a+/– mutations was rescued by Jak or Stat3 inhibitors. We also tested the importance of Kdm6a-mediated demethylase activity. Unlike restoring effect by wild-type kdm6a, the ectopic expression of catalytically-dead kdm6a constructs (kdm6a H1134A) showed no rescue effect for dysregulated expression of socs3a and key myeloerythorid genes including cebps.

In conclusion, our data demonstrate the multiple roles of kdm6a in regulating HSPC homeostasis and provide new insight into the mechanism of kdm6a haploinsufficiency in uncontrolled myeloid differentiation through demethylase-dependent epigenetic programming.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH