ELMO1 Is Upregulated in AML CD34+ Stem/Progenitor Cells, Mediates Chemotaxis and Predicts Poor Prognosis in Normal Karyotype AML

Capala ME, Vellenga E, Schuringa JJ
Source: PLoS ONE
Publication Date: (2014)
Issue: 10: e111568
Research Area:
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
CD34+ cell, human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
The researcher cultures CD34+ cells from normal and AML donors in Lonza\'s HPGM medium, analyzed expression rates of a variety of genes, and determined that ELMO1 is more highly expressed in AML CD34+ cells as compared with normal CD34+ cells and this high expression has a prognostic significance in AML patients with a normal karyotype.
Both normal as well leukemic hematopoietic stem cells critically depend on their microenvironment in the bone marrow for processes such as self-renewal, survival and differentiation, although the exact pathways that are involved remain poorly understood. We performed transcriptome analysis on primitive CD34+ acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells (n?=?46), their more differentiated CD34- leukemic progeny, and normal CD34+ bone marrow cells (n?=?31) and focused on differentially expressed genes involved in adhesion and migration. Thus, Engulfment and Motility protein 1 (ELMO1) was identified amongst the top 50 most differentially expressed genes. ELMO1 is a crucial link in the signaling cascade that leads to activation of RAC GTPases and cytoskeleton rearrangements. We confirmed increased ELMO1 expression at the mRNA and protein level in a panel of AML samples and showed that high ELMO1 expression is an independent negative prognostic factor in normal karyotype (NK) AML in three large independent patient cohorts. Downmodulation of ELMO1 in human CB CD34+ cells did not significantly alter expansion, progenitor frequency or differentiation in stromal co-cultures, but did result in a decreased frequency of stem cells in LTC-IC assays. In BCR-ABL-transduced human CB CD34+ cells depletion of ELMO1 resulted in a mild decrease in proliferation, but replating capacity of progenitors was severely impaired. Downregulation of ELMO1 in a panel of primary CD34+ AML cells also resulted in reduced long-term growth in stromal co-cultures in two out of three cases. Pharmacological inhibition of the ELMO1 downstream target RAC resulted in a severely impaired proliferation and survival of leukemic cells. Finally, ELMO1 depletion caused a marked decrease in SDF1-induced chemotaxis of leukemic cells. Taken together, these data show that inhibiting the ELMO1-RAC axis might be an alternative way to target leukemic cells.