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2679 PDZD2 Is Required for Normal Erythropoiesis and Its 37-KDa Secreted Product, sPDZD2, Functions As a Soluble Tumor Suppressor in AML

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 501. Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells and Hematopoiesis: Basic and Translational: Poster II
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Bleeding and Clotting, hematopoiesis, Biological Processes
Sunday, December 10, 2023, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Marlise L Guerrero Schimpf, PhD, Michael S Pannullo*, Courtney C Sparger, BS*, Hsuan-Ting Huang, PhD, Dean L Wade* and Maria Ken E Figueroa, MD

University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL

PDZ domain-containing protein 2 (PDZD2) is expressed in normal hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC), specifically HSC, MPP, and erythroid progenitors, however, it is almost universally lost through hypermethylation in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). PDZD2 encodes for a 300-kDa protein containing 6 PDZ domains. The full-length protein is cleaved in the cytoplasm in a caspase 3-dependent manner, and the C-terminal fragment containing PDZ domains 5 and 6 is secreted to the tissue microenvironment as a 37-kDa protein known as secreted PDZD2 (sPDZD2). sPDZD2 has been reported to function as a tumor suppressor in some solid tumors, including breast, prostate, and liver cancer. Thus, we hypothesized that PDZD2 is required for normal hematopoiesis and that sPDZD2 functions as a soluble tumor suppressor in the hematopoietic system.

We first sought to determine if sPDZD2 is secreted to the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment. Using an ELISA to quantify sPDZD2 levels in BM plasma isolated from healthy donors (n=6) and primary AMLs (n=20), we confirmed its secretion by normal CD34+ HSPCs (NBM) and downregulation in AMLs (NBM: 169 ± 17.53 vs AML: 46.12 ± 6.70 ng/ml; p<0.0001). In addition, AML cell lines (n=7) secreted significantly lower levels of sPDZD2 into the culture medium than normal HSPCs (n=2) (NBM: 28.71 ± 1.76 vs AML: 4.62 ± 1.19 ng/mL; p<0.0001). Next, to study the role of PDZD2 in normal hematopoiesis we performed in vitro myeloid and erythroid differentiation and colony-forming unit assays in CRISPR-Cas9-edited human HSPCs. CD34+ cells from healthy donors were electroporated with recombinant Cas9-sgRNA ribonucleoprotein complexes targeting PDZD2 and editing confirmed by T7I endonuclease assay and Sanger sequencing. PDZD2-edited cells (PDZD2 KO) were plated either on methylcellulose or liquid differentiation cultures (n=6). PDZD2 KO resulted in decreased colony number of all types (Control: 172.5 ± 34.37 vs PDZD2 KO: 137.0 ± 18.25, p<0.05), indicating reduced colony-forming potential. In addition, loss of PDZD2 resulted in a delay in terminal erythroid differentiation with an accumulation of pro-erythroblasts (CD71+CD235alowCD105high, p<0.05) and late basophilic erythroblasts (CD71+CD235ahighCD105int, p<0.01) as well as decreased orthochromatic erythroblasts (CD71+CD235ahighCD105neg, p<0.01) in a tri-phasic liquid culture system. By contrast, PDZD2 KO had no impact on myeloid differentiation. To determine the role of Pdzd2 in vivo, we took advantage of a Pdzd2Gt/Gt gene-trap (GT) mouse model and performed peripheral blood (PB) and BM analysis compared to wild-type (WT) controls. PB counts at 2 months of age (n=6-9 per genotype) showed anemia, with a significant decrease in both red blood cell counts (WT: 9.04 ± 0.26 vs GT: 7.58 ± 0.47 x106/mL; p=0.026) and hemoglobin levels (WT: 14.88 ± 0.46 vs GT: 12.30 ± 0.81 g/dL; p=0.036), an observation compatible with the impaired erythropoiesis seen in vitro after PDZD2 KO in human HSPCs. In addition, we observed a trend to decrease megakaryocyte-erythroid progenitors (MEPs) and short-term HSCs in the BM of 3 months-old mice (n=3), though the small size of the cohort prevented robust statistical analysis.

Next, we sought to evaluate the tumor suppressor role of sPDZD2 in the context of AML. We treated a panel of AML cell lines (n=9) and primary human AML specimens (n=4) with recombinant sPDZD2 (r-sPDZD2; dose: 100nM-300nM/day) for a period of 8 days. AML cells showed dose-dependent growth inhibition (CellTiter-Glo, p<0.05 for all) and increased expression of either CD11b or CD15 differentiation markers. Cell cycle analysis on day 8 revealed that AML cells treated with r-sPDZD2 were arrested at G0/G1 phase compared to control.

In summary, our study is the first to shed light on a previously unrecognized role for PDZD2 in hematopoiesis. Loss of PDZD2 in HSPC resulted in impaired erythroid differentiation both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, our findings validate a soluble tumor suppressor role for sPDZD2 in AML, similar to that seen in solid tumors. Importantly, we further demonstrate a potential role for r-sPDZD2 as a novel therapeutic approach for AML.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH