Roles of the Immune Cytokine Environment on Clonal Growth of Murine and Human Tet2 Mutant Bone Marrow Progenitors: Implications for Myelodysplastic Syndromes

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Abegunde, Samuel
Immune Cytokines , TNF-alpha , IFN-gamma , Myelodysplastic Syndromes , Tet2 Mutation
TET2 is a tumor suppressor gene that has been implicated in the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Inactivating TET2 mutations are common in MDS. These mutations may contribute to early clonal dominance and myeloid transformation, although the exact mechanisms remain to be elucidated. Common to the environment of MDS are elevations in cytokines, such as TNFα and IFN-γ. It was hypothesized that inflammatory cytokines TNF-α and IFN-γ may promote clonal expansion of TET2 mutant progenitors. Adult (10-14 weeks-old) Tet2 wild type (+/+) and Tet2 mutant (-/-) C57BL/6 mice strains were chosen as a model system. Lineage negative cells (Lin-), enriched for hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, were isolated from Tet2 +/+ and -/- bone marrow and cultured in the absence or presence of varying concentrations of TNFα or IFN-γ in methylcellulose colony formation assays and long term cell culture assays, over a period of 12 and 30 days respectively, and their colony growth, cell count, immunophenotype and resistance to apoptosis were examined. Where indicated, serial re-plating was performed. Expression of apoptotic regulators was assessed by qRT-PCR. In the triplicate experiments, starting with equal densities of Tet2 +/+ and -/- Lin- cells, Tet2 -/- Lin- cells displayed increased resistance to cytokine-induced growth suppression and superior colony forming ability over +/+ in the serial re-plating assays under stress of increasing TNFα or IFN γ. Tet2 -/- progenitors also displayed a lower apoptotic index compared to +/+ under stress of increasing TNFα, suggesting increased resistance to TNFα induced apoptosis. Transcriptional data showed low expression of Tnfr1, Fas and caspase 8, as well as a high expression of Bcl-2 and Iap1 in Tet2 -/- compared to +/+ under stress of TNFα. Tet2-/- also showed increased basal expression of endogenous TNFα mRNA compared to +/+. In the human colony growth assay, the clonal growth of TET2 mutant CFU-GM progenitors was enhanced at low TNFα concentrations. Conclusion: Mutations that promote resistance to environmental stem cell stressors are a known mechanism of clonal selection in aplastic anaemia and JAK2-mutant MPN and our findings suggest that this mechanism may be critical to clonal selection and dominance in MDS.
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