Theses Doctoral

Differential Roles of PRDM16 Isoforms in Normal and Malignant Hematopoiesis

Corrigan, David Joseph

PRDM16 is a transcriptional co-regulator that is highly expressed in HSCs and required for their maintenance. It is also involved in translocations in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Prdm16 is expressed as both full-length (f Prdm16) and short-length (s-Prdm16) isoforms, the latter lacking an N-terminal PR domain homologous to SET methyltransferase domains. The roles of both isoforms in normal and malignant hematopoiesis are unclear. In chromosomal rearrangements involving PRDM16, the PR domain is deleted. Furthermore, overexpression of s-Prdm16, but not f-Prdm16, can cause leukemia in a p53-/- background predisposed to malignancy. Based on this, s-Prdm16 has been proposed as an oncogene whereas f-Prdm16 has been suggested to possess tumor suppressor activity.
The aim of this thesis was to more clearly elucidate the role of each Prdm16 isoform in normal and malignant hematopoiesis. We first showed that Prdm16 is essential for adult HSC maintenance using a conditional deletion mouse model specific for hematopoietic cells, as previous findings using an embryonic-lethal global Prdm16-/- mouse demonstrated this only in fetal liver. We then found, using a specific f-Prdm16-/- mouse model, that full-length Prdm16 is essential for HSC maintenance and induces multiple genes involved in GTPase signaling and represses inflammation. Based on a comparison of Prdm16-/- HSCs lacking both isoforms, and f-Prdm16-/- HSCs which express s-Prdm16, we were able to infer some hematopoietic properties of s-Prdm16 – namely that this isoform induces inflammatory gene expression and supports development of a Lineage-Sca1+cKit- lymphoid progenitor distinct from CLPs which predominantly differentiates into marginal zone B cells. s-Prdm16 expression alone, however, was not sufficient to maintain HSCs.
We used a mouse model of human MLL-AF9 leukemia and found that leukemia derived from Prdm16-deficient HSCs had extended latency, although expression of Prdm16 decreases during MLL-AF9 transformation and is undetectable in ex vivo leukemic cells. Forced expression of f-Prdm16 in these cells further extended leukemic latency, while forced expression of s-Prdm16 shortened latency. Gene expression profiling using RNAseq indicated that forced expression of f-Prdm16 resulted in altered respiratory metabolism of MLL-AF9 cells, whereas expression of s-Prdm16 induced a strong inflammatory gene signature, comparable to that seen in HSCs expressing only s-Prdm16. Several inflammatory cytokines and chemokines induced by s-Prdm16 are associated with MDS and with a worse prognosis in human AML. Furthermore, leukemia expressing s-Prdm16 had an elevated number of cells with abnormal nuclei, characteristic of dysplasia.
Finally, we performed an analysis of PRDM16 in human AML from the publically-available Cancer Genome Atlas dataset, containing clinical and gene expression data for 179 cases of AML. PRDM16 expression negatively correlated with overall survival, both in the entire dataset and in the NPM1 mutated and MLL¬-rearranged subsets, and s-PRDM16 exhibited a stronger correlation than f-PRDM16. HOX gene expression correlated with PRDM16 expression, suggesting that HOX genes may positively regulate PRDM16 expression in AML. In NPM1-mutant and MLL-rearranged subsets of AML, we also found that high PRDM16 expression correlated with an inflammatory gene signature, thus corroborating our findings in mouse MLL-AF9.
Our findings demonstrate distinct roles for Prdm16 isoforms in both normal hematopoiesis and AML, and identify s-Prdm16 as one of the drivers of prognostically-adverse inflammatory gene expression in leukemia.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection
Thesis Advisors
Snoeck, Hans-Willem
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 21, 2018