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Prediction of venetoclax activity in precursor B-ALL by functional assessment of apoptosis signaling


Abstract

Deregulated cell death pathways contribute to leukemogenesis and treatment failure in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL). Intrinsic apoptosis signaling is regulated by different proapoptotic and antiapoptotic molecules: proapoptotic BCL-2 homology domain 3 (BH3) proteins activate prodeath molecules leading to cellular death, while antiapoptotic molecules including B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) prevent activation of prodeath proteins and counter-regulate apoptosis induction. Inhibition of these antiapoptotic regulators has become a promising strategy for anticancer treatment, but variable anticancer activities in different malignancies indicate the need for upfront identification of responsive patients. Here, we investigated the activity of the BCL-2 inhibitor venetoclax (VEN, ABT-199) in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia and found heterogeneous sensitivities in BCP-ALL cell lines and in a series of patient-derived primografts. To identify parameters of sensitivity and resistance, we evaluated genetic aberrations, gene-expression profiles, expression levels of apoptosis regulators, and functional apoptosis parameters analyzed by mitochondrial profiling using recombinant BH3-like peptides. Importantly, ex vivo VEN sensitivity was most accurately associated with functional BCL-2 dependence detected by BH3 profiling. Modeling clinical application of VEN in a preclinical trial in a set of individual ALL primografts, we identified that leukemia-free survival of VEN treated mice was precisely determined by functional BCL-2 dependence. Moreover, the predictive value of ex vivo measured functional BCL-2 dependence for preclinical in vivo VEN response was confirmed in an independent set of primograft ALL including T- and high risk-ALL. Thus, integrative analysis of the apoptosis signaling indicating mitochondrial addiction to BCL-2 accurately predicts antileukemia activity of VEN, robustly identifies VEN-responsive patients, and provides information for stratification and clinical guidance in future clinical applications of VEN in patients with ALL.

Abstract

Deregulated cell death pathways contribute to leukemogenesis and treatment failure in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL). Intrinsic apoptosis signaling is regulated by different proapoptotic and antiapoptotic molecules: proapoptotic BCL-2 homology domain 3 (BH3) proteins activate prodeath molecules leading to cellular death, while antiapoptotic molecules including B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) prevent activation of prodeath proteins and counter-regulate apoptosis induction. Inhibition of these antiapoptotic regulators has become a promising strategy for anticancer treatment, but variable anticancer activities in different malignancies indicate the need for upfront identification of responsive patients. Here, we investigated the activity of the BCL-2 inhibitor venetoclax (VEN, ABT-199) in B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia and found heterogeneous sensitivities in BCP-ALL cell lines and in a series of patient-derived primografts. To identify parameters of sensitivity and resistance, we evaluated genetic aberrations, gene-expression profiles, expression levels of apoptosis regulators, and functional apoptosis parameters analyzed by mitochondrial profiling using recombinant BH3-like peptides. Importantly, ex vivo VEN sensitivity was most accurately associated with functional BCL-2 dependence detected by BH3 profiling. Modeling clinical application of VEN in a preclinical trial in a set of individual ALL primografts, we identified that leukemia-free survival of VEN treated mice was precisely determined by functional BCL-2 dependence. Moreover, the predictive value of ex vivo measured functional BCL-2 dependence for preclinical in vivo VEN response was confirmed in an independent set of primograft ALL including T- and high risk-ALL. Thus, integrative analysis of the apoptosis signaling indicating mitochondrial addiction to BCL-2 accurately predicts antileukemia activity of VEN, robustly identifies VEN-responsive patients, and provides information for stratification and clinical guidance in future clinical applications of VEN in patients with ALL.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Immunology
Life Sciences > Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Life Sciences > Cell Biology
Life Sciences > Cancer Research
Language:English
Date:29 July 2019
Deposited On:20 Dec 2019 14:01
Last Modified:22 Apr 2020 21:38
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-4889
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41419-019-1801-0
PubMed ID:31358732

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