• Home
  • News
  • Calendar
  • About DF/HCC
  • Membership
  • Visitor Center
 

Member Resources

Publications

Blood

Blood current issue
Blood RSS feed -- current issue
Blood

Hematopoietic differentiation is governed by a complex regulatory program controlling the generation of different lineages of blood cells from multipotent hematopoietic stem cells. The transcriptional program that dictates hematopoietic cell fate and differentiation requires an epigenetic memory function provided by a network of epigenetic factors regulating DNA methylation, posttranslational histone modifications, and chromatin structure. Aberrant interactions between epigenetic factors and transcription factors cause perturbations in the blood cell differentiation program that result in various types of hematopoietic disorders. To elucidate the contributions of different epigenetic factors in human hematopoiesis, high-throughput cap analysis of gene expression was used to build transcription profiles of 199 epigenetic factors in a wide range of blood cells. Our epigenetic transcriptome analysis revealed cell type– (eg, HELLS and ACTL6A), lineage- (eg, MLL), and/or leukemia- (eg, CHD2, CBX8, and EPC1) specific expression of several epigenetic factors. In addition, we show that several epigenetic factors use alternative transcription start sites in different cell types. This analysis could serve as a resource for the scientific community for further characterization of the role of these epigenetic factors in blood development.


Mast cells (MCs) mature exclusively in peripheral tissues, hampering research into their developmental and functional programs. Here, we employed deep cap analysis of gene expression on skin-derived MCs to generate the most comprehensive view of the human MC transcriptome ever reported. An advantage is that MCs were embedded in the FANTOM5 project, giving the opportunity to contrast their molecular signature against a multitude of human samples. We demonstrate that MCs possess a unique and surprising transcriptional landscape, combining hematopoietic genes with those exclusively active in MCs and genes not previously reported as expressed by MCs (several of them markers of unrelated tissues). We also found functional bone morphogenetic protein receptors transducing activatory signals in MCs. Conversely, several immune-related genes frequently studied in MCs were not expressed or were weakly expressed. Comparing MCs ex vivo with cultured counterparts revealed profound changes in the MC transcriptome in in vitro surroundings. We also determined the promoter usage of MC-expressed genes and identified associated motifs active in the lineage. Befitting their uniqueness, MCs had no close relative in the hematopoietic network (also only distantly related with basophils). This rich data set reveals that our knowledge of human MCs is still limited, but with this resource, novel functional programs of MCs may soon be discovered.


CD4+CD25+FOXP3+ human regulatory T cells (Tregs) are essential for self-tolerance and immune homeostasis. Here, we describe the promoterome of CD4+CD25highCD45RA+ naïve and CD4+CD25highCD45RA memory Tregs and their CD25 conventional T-cell (Tconv) counterparts both before and after in vitro expansion by cap analysis of gene expression (CAGE) adapted to single-molecule sequencing (HeliScopeCAGE). We performed comprehensive comparative digital gene expression analyses and revealed novel transcription start sites, of which several were validated as alternative promoters of known genes. For all in vitro expanded subsets, we additionally generated global maps of poised and active enhancer elements marked by histone H3 lysine 4 monomethylation and histone H3 lysine 27 acetylation, describe their cell type–specific motif signatures, and evaluate the role of candidate transcription factors STAT5, FOXP3, RUNX1, and ETS1 in both Treg- and Tconv-specific enhancer architectures. Network analyses of gene expression data revealed additional candidate transcription factors contributing to cell type specificity and a transcription factor network in Tregs that is dominated by FOXP3 interaction partners and targets. In summary, we provide a comprehensive and easily accessible resource of gene expression and gene regulation in human Treg and Tconv subpopulations.


In development, epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation have been suggested to provide a cellular memory to maintain multipotency but also stabilize cell fate decisions and direct lineage restriction. In this study, we set out to characterize changes in DNA methylation and gene expression during granulopoiesis using 4 distinct cell populations ranging from the oligopotent common myeloid progenitor stage to terminally differentiated neutrophils. We observed that differentially methylated sites (DMSs) generally show decreased methylation during granulopoiesis. Methylation appears to change at specific differentiation stages and overlap with changes in transcription and activity of key hematopoietic transcription factors. DMSs were preferentially located in areas distal to CpG islands and shores. Also, DMSs were overrepresented in enhancer elements and enriched in enhancers that become active during differentiation. Overall, this study depicts in detail the epigenetic and transcriptional changes that occur during granulopoiesis and supports the role of DNA methylation as a regulatory mechanism in blood cell differentiation.


Human blood monocytes comprise at least 3 subpopulations that differ in phenotype and function. Here, we present the first in-depth regulome analysis of human classical (CD14++CD16), intermediate (CD14+CD16+), and nonclassical (CD14dimCD16+) monocytes. Cap analysis of gene expression adapted to Helicos single-molecule sequencing was used to map transcription start sites throughout the genome in all 3 subsets. In addition, global maps of H3K4me1 and H3K27ac deposition were generated for classical and nonclassical monocytes defining enhanceosomes of the 2 major subsets. We identified differential regulatory elements (including promoters and putative enhancers) that were associated with subset-specific motif signatures corresponding to different transcription factor activities and exemplarily validated novel downstream enhancer elements at the CD14 locus. In addition to known subset-specific features, pathway analysis revealed marked differences in metabolic gene signatures. Whereas classical monocytes expressed higher levels of genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism, priming them for anaerobic energy production, nonclassical monocytes expressed higher levels of oxidative pathway components and showed a higher mitochondrial routine activity. Our findings describe promoter/enhancer landscapes and provide novel insights into the specific biology of human monocyte subsets.








The coagulation cascade is activated during viral infections. This response may be part of the host defense system to limit spread of the pathogen. However, excessive activation of the coagulation cascade can be deleterious. In fact, inhibition of the tissue factor/factor VIIa complex reduced mortality in a monkey model of Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Other studies showed that incorporation of tissue factor into the envelope of herpes simplex virus increases infection of endothelial cells and mice. Furthermore, binding of factor X to adenovirus serotype 5 enhances infection of hepatocytes but also increases the activation of the innate immune response to the virus. Coagulation proteases activate protease-activated receptors (PARs). Interestingly, we and others found that PAR1 and PAR2 modulate the immune response to viral infection. For instance, PAR1 positively regulates TLR3-dependent expression of the antiviral protein interferon β, whereas PAR2 negatively regulates expression during coxsackievirus group B infection. These studies indicate that the coagulation cascade plays multiple roles during viral infections.


Lymphatic vasculature is increasingly recognized as an important factor both in the regulation of normal tissue homeostasis and immune response and in many diseases, such as inflammation, cancer, obesity, and hypertension. In the last few years, in addition to the central role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C/VEGF receptor-3 signaling in lymphangiogenesis, significant new insights were obtained about Notch, transforming growth factor β/bone morphogenetic protein, Ras, mitogen-activated protein kinase, phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase, and Ca2+/calcineurin signaling pathways in the control of growth and remodeling of lymphatic vessels. An emerging picture of lymphangiogenic signaling is complex and in many ways distinct from the regulation of angiogenesis. This complexity provides new challenges, but also new opportunities for selective therapeutic targeting of lymphatic vasculature.


T cells redirected to specific antigen targets with engineered chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are emerging as powerful therapies in hematologic malignancies. Various CAR designs, manufacturing processes, and study populations, among other variables, have been tested and reported in over 10 clinical trials. Here, we review and compare the results of the reported clinical trials and discuss the progress and key emerging factors that may play a role in effecting tumor responses. We also discuss the outlook for CAR T-cell therapies, including managing toxicities and expanding the availability of personalized cell therapy as a promising approach to all hematologic malignancies. Many questions remain in the field of CAR T cells directed to hematologic malignancies, but the encouraging response rates pave a wide road for future investigation.


The peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCLs) encompass a heterogeneous group of diseases that have generally been associated with poor prognosis. The most common PTCLs, peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified, angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-negative anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALK-negative), despite their unique presentations and histologies, are currently treated similarly. Here we discuss our general approach to the treatment of the most common PTCLs. Based on the best data currently available, which include retrospective analyses and phase 2 prospective studies, our approach has involved cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone-based therapy followed by consolidation in first remission with autologous stem cell transplant. This treatment strategy likely improves the outcome for patients compared with historical series; however, progression-free survival rates remain disappointing, ranging from 40% to 50%. This is currently an exciting time in the treatment of PTCL due to the advent of recently approved drugs as well as new targeted agents currently under investigation. In addition, gene expression profiling is allowing for a better understanding of underlying disease biology, improved diagnostic accuracy, and prognostication in PTCL. As a result, over the next few years, we expect a significant shift in our management of these diseases with a move toward more individualized therapy leading to improved outcomes.


Atypical chronic myeloid leukemia (aCML) is a rare subtype of myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasm (MDS/MPN) largely defined morphologically. It is, unclear, however, whether aCML-associated features are distinctive enough to allow its separation from unclassifiable MDS/MPN (MDS/MPN-U). To study these 2 rare entities, 134 patient archives were collected from 7 large medical centers, of which 65 (49%) cases were further classified as aCML and the remaining 69 (51%) as MDS/MPN-U. Distinctively, aCML was associated with many adverse features and an inferior overall survival (12.4 vs 21.8 months, P = .004) and AML-free survival (11.2 vs 18.9 months, P = .003). The aCML defining features of leukocytosis and circulating myeloid precursors, but not dysgranulopoiesis, were independent negative predictors. Other factors, such as lactate dehydrogenase, circulating myeloblasts, platelets, and cytogenetics could further stratify MDS/MPN-U but not aCML patient risks. aCML appeared to have more mutated RAS (7/20 [35%] vs 4/29 [14%]) and less JAK2p.V617F (3/42 [7%] vs 10/52 [19%]), but was not statistically significant. Somatic CSF3R T618I (0/54) and CALR (0/30) mutations were not detected either in aCML or MDS/MPN-U. In conclusion, within MDS/MPN, the World Health Organization 2008 criteria for aCML identify a subgroup of patients with features clearly distinct from MDS/MPN-U. The MDS/MPN-U category is heterogeneous, and patient risk can be further stratified by a number of clinicopathological parameters.


BH3 domain-only proteins (BH3-only) proteins are members of the Bcl-2 family that play crucial roles in embryogenesis and the maintenance of tissue homeostasis by triggering apoptotic cell death. The BH3-only protein Bim is critical for developmental apoptosis of lymphocytes, securing establishment of tolerance and for the termination of immune responses. Bim is believed to act in concert with other BH3-only proteins or members of the tumor necrosis factor receptor family in getting rid of unwanted cells. Bmf, a related BH3-only protein, was shown to play a role in B-cell homeostasis and to mediate cell death in response to certain apoptotic triggers, including glucocorticoid, histone deacetylase inhibitors, and overexpression of the c-Myc proto-oncogene. Here we show that Bim and Bmf have overlapping functions during mouse development and coregulate lymphocyte homeostasis and apoptosis in a nonredundant manner. Double deficiency of Bim and Bmf caused more B lymphadenopathy than loss of either BH3-only protein alone, and this was associated with autoimmune glomerulonephritis and a range of malignancies in aged mice. Thus, our results demonstrate that Bim and Bmf act in concert to prevent autoimmunity and malignant disease, strengthening the rational for the development of BH3-only protein mimicking therapeutics for the treatment of such disorders.


Alterations of cellular metabolism represent a hallmark of cancer. Numerous metabolic changes are required for malignant transformation, and they render malignant cells more prone to disturbances in the metabolic framework. Despite the high incidence of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), metabolism of CLL cells remains a relatively unexplored area. The examined untreated CLL patients displayed a metabolic condition known as oxidative stress, which was linked to alterations in their lymphoid compartment. Our studies identified mitochondrial metabolism as the key source for abundant reactive oxygen species (ROS). Unlike in other malignant cells, we found increased oxidative phosphorylation in CLL cells but not increased aerobic glycolysis. Furthermore, CLL cells adapted to intrinsic oxidative stress by upregulating the stress-responsive heme-oxygenase-1 (HO-1). Our data implicate that HO-1 was, beyond its function as an antioxidant, involved in promoting mitochondrial biogenesis. Thus ROS, adaptation to ROS, and mitochondrial biogenesis appear to form a self-amplifying feedback loop in CLL cells. Taking advantage of the altered metabolic profile, we were able to selectively target CLL cells by PK11195. This benzodiazepine derivate blocks the mitochondrial F1F0-ATPase, leads to a surplus production of mitochondrial superoxide, and thereby induces cell death in CLL cells. Taken together, our findings depict how bioenergetics and redox characteristics could be therapeutically exploited in CLL.


Sp1 transcription factor controls a pleiotropic group of genes and its aberrant activation has been reported in a number of malignancies, including multiple myeloma. In this study, we investigate and report its aberrant activation in Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM). Both loss of and gain of Sp1 function studies have highlighted a potential oncogenic role of Sp1 in WM. We have further investigated the effect of a small molecule inhibitor, terameprocol (TMP), targeting Sp1 activity in WM. Treatment with TMP inhibited the growth and survival and impaired nuclear factor-B and signal transducer and activator of transcription activity in WM cells. We next investigated and observed that TMP treatment induced further inhibition of WM cells in MYD88 knockdown WM cells. Moreover, we observed that Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, a downstream target of MYD88 signaling pathway, is transcriptionally regulated by Sp1 in WM cells. The combined use of TMP with Bruton’s tyrosine kinase or interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 and 4 inhibitors resulted in a significant and synergistic dose-dependent antiproliferative effect in MYD88-L265P–expressing WM cells. In summary, these results demonstrate Sp1 as an important transcription factor that regulates proliferation and survival of WM cells independent of MYD88 pathway activation, and provide preclinical rationale for clinical development of TMP in WM alone or in combination with inhibitors of MYD88 pathway.


The MYB oncogene is widely expressed in acute leukemias and is important for the continued proliferation of leukemia cells, suggesting that MYB may be a therapeutic target in these diseases. However, realization of this potential requires a significant therapeutic window for MYB inhibition, given its essential role in normal hematopoiesis, and an approach for developing an effective therapeutic. We previously showed that the interaction of c-Myb with the coactivator CBP/p300 is essential for its transforming activity. Here, by using cells from Booreana mice which carry a mutant allele of c-Myb, we show that this interaction is essential for in vitro transformation by the myeloid leukemia oncogenes AML1-ETO, AML1-ETO9a, MLL-ENL, and MLL-AF9. We further show that unlike cells from wild-type mice, Booreana cells transduced with AML1-ETO9a or MLL-AF9 retroviruses fail to generate leukemia upon transplantation into irradiated recipients. Finally, we have begun to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying these observations by gene expression profiling. This identified several genes previously implicated in myeloid leukemogenesis and HSC function as being regulated in a c-Myb-p300-dependent manner. These data highlight the importance of the c-Myb-p300 interaction in myeloid leukemogenesis and suggest disruption of this interaction as a potential therapeutic strategy for acute myeloid leukemia.


Leukemia cells are protected from chemotherapy-induced apoptosis by their interactions with bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSCs). Yet the underlying mechanisms associated with this protective effect remain unclear. Genome-wide gene expression profiling of BM-MSCs revealed that coculture with leukemia cells upregulated the transcription of genes associated with nuclear factor (NF)-B signaling. Moreover, primary BM-MSCs from leukemia patients expressed NF-B target genes at higher levels than their normal BM-MSC counterparts. The blockade of NF-B activation via chemical agents or the overexpression of the mutant form of inhibitor B-α (IBα) in BM-MSCs markedly reduced the stromal-mediated drug resistance in leukemia cells in vitro and in vivo. In particular, our unique in vivo model of human leukemia BM microenvironment illustrated a direct link between NF-B activation and stromal-associated chemoprotection. Mechanistic in vitro studies revealed that the interaction between vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1) and very late antigen-4 (VLA-4) played an integral role in the activation of NF-B in the stromal and tumor cell compartments. Together, these results suggest that reciprocal NF-B activation in BM-MSCs and leukemia cells is essential for promoting chemoresistance in the transformed cells, and targeting NF-B or VLA-4/VCAM-1 signaling could be a clinically relevant mechanism to overcome stroma-mediated chemoresistance in BM-resident leukemia cells.


PSTPIP1 is a cytoskeletal adaptor and F-BAR protein that has been implicated in autoinflammatory disease, most notably in the PAPA syndrome: pyogenic sterile arthritis, pyoderma gangrenosum, and acne. However, the mechanism by which PSTPIP1 regulates the actin cytoskeleton and contributes to disease pathogenesis remains elusive. Here, we show that endogenous PSTPIP1 negatively regulates macrophage podosome organization and matrix degradation. We identify a novel PSTPIP1-R405C mutation in a patient presenting with aggressive pyoderma gangrenosum. Identification of this mutation reveals that PSTPIP1 regulates the balance of podosomes and filopodia in macrophages. The PSTPIP1-R405C mutation is in the SRC homology 3 (SH3) domain and impairs Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP) binding, but it does not affect interaction with protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP)-PEST. Accordingly, WASP inhibition reverses the elevated F-actin content, filopodia formation, and matrix degradation induced by PSTPIP1-R405C. Our results uncover a novel role for PSTPIP1 and WASP in orchestrating different types of actin-based protrusions. Our findings implicate the cytoskeletal regulatory functions of PSTPIP1 in the pathogenesis of pyoderma gangrenosum and suggest that the cytoskeleton is a rational target for therapeutic intervention in autoinflammatory disease.


The interaction between platelet receptor glycoprotein Ibα and the A1 domain of von Willebrand factor (VWF) mediates tethering/translocation of platelets to sites of vascular injury. Unexpectedly, we observed platelets translocating over A1A2A3 domains protein slower than on A1 domain at high shear stress. This observation suggests an additional interaction between A domains and an adhesive receptor. We investigated vimentin because we have data showing the interaction of vimentin with the A2 domain of VWF. Moreover, vimentin is expressed on the platelet surface. This novel interaction was analyzed by using purified VWF, recombinant proteins, anti-vimentin antibodies, parallel flow chamber adhesion assays, flow cytometry, and vimentin-deficient murine platelets. The active form of VWF bound to vimentin, and the purified A2 domain blocked that binding. The interaction of a gain-of-function A1A2A3 mutant with platelet was reduced using anti-vimentin antibody. Platelet adhesion to wild-type (WT) A1A2A3 protein, collagen, and fibrin(ogen) was inhibited (32-75%) by anti-vimentin antibody under high shear stress. Compared with WT mice, platelets from vimentin-deficient mice had a reduced flow-dependent adhesion to both collagen and purified murine VWF. Last, the vimentin knockout mice had a prolonged tail bleeding time. The results describe that platelet vimentin engages VWF during platelet adhesion under high shear stress.


Tight regulation of integrin affinity is critical for hemostasis. A final step of integrin activation is talin binding to 2 sites within the integrin β cytoplasmic domain. Binding of talin to a membrane-distal NPxY sequence facilitates a second, weaker interaction of talin with an integrin membrane-proximal region (MPR) that is critical for integrin activation. To test the functional significance of these distinct interactions on platelet function in vivo, we generated knock-in mice expressing talin1 mutants with impaired capacity to interact with the β3 integrin MPR (L325R) or NPLY sequence (W359A). Both talin1(L325R) and talin1(W359A) mice were protected from experimental thrombosis. Talin1(L325R) mice, but not talin(W359A) mice, exhibited a severe bleeding phenotype. Activation of αIIbβ3 was completely blocked in talin1(L325R) platelets, whereas activation was reduced by approximately 50% in talin1(W359A) platelets. Quantitative biochemical measurements detected talin1(W359A) binding to β3 integrin, albeit with a 2.9-fold lower affinity than wild-type talin1. The rate of αIIbβ3 activation was slower in talin1(W359A) platelets, which consequently delayed aggregation under static conditions and reduced thrombus formation under physiological flow conditions. Together our data indicate that reduction of talin-β3 integrin binding affinity results in decelerated αIIbβ3 integrin activation and protection from arterial thrombosis without pathological bleeding.


Neutralizing anti-factor VIII (FVIII) antibodies that develop in patients with hemophilia A and in murine hemophilia A models, clinically termed "inhibitors," bind to several distinct surfaces on the FVIII-C2 domain. To map these epitopes at high resolution, 60 recombinant FVIII-C2 proteins were generated, each having a single surface-exposed residue mutated to alanine or a conservative substitution. The binding kinetics of these muteins to 11 monoclonal, inhibitory anti-FVIII-C2 antibodies were evaluated by surface plasmon resonance and the results compared with those obtained for wild-type FVIII-C2. Clusters of residues with significantly altered binding kinetics identified "functional" B-cell epitopes, defined as those residues contributing appreciable antigen–antibody avidity. These antibodies were previously shown to neutralize FVIII activity by interfering with proteolytic activation of FVIII by thrombin or factor Xa, or with its binding to phospholipid surfaces, von Willebrand factor, or other components of the intrinsic tenase complex. Fine mapping of epitopes by surface plasmon resonance also indicated surfaces through which FVIII interacts with proteins and phospholipids as it participates in coagulation. Mutations that significantly altered the dissociation times/half-lives identified functionally important interactions within antigen–antibody interfaces and suggested specific sequence modifications to generate novel, less antigenic FVIII proteins with possible therapeutic potential for treatment of inhibitor patients.