PUBLICATION

Tzoneva, G. et al. Clonal evolution mechanisms in NT5C2 mutant-relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Nature 553, 511–514 (2018).

Relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is associated with resistance to chemotherapy and poor prognosis. Gain-of-function mutations in the 5′-nucleotidase, cytosolic II (NT5C2) gene induce resistance to 6-mercaptopurine and are selectively present in relapsed ALL. Yet, the mechanisms involved in NT5C2 mutation-driven clonal evolution during the initiation of leukaemia, disease progression and relapse remain unknown. Here we use a conditional-and-inducible leukaemia model to demonstrate that expression of NT5C2(R367Q), a highly prevalent relapsed-ALL NT5C2 mutation, induces resistance to chemotherapy with 6-mercaptopurine at the cost of impaired leukaemia cell growth and leukaemia-initiating cell activity. The loss-of-fitness phenotype of NT5C2+/R367Q mutant cells is associated with excess export of purines to the extracellular space and depletion of the intracellular purine-nucleotide pool. Consequently, blocking guanosine synthesis by inhibition of inosine-5′-monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) induced increased cytotoxicity against NT5C2-mutant leukaemia lymphoblasts. These results identify the fitness cost of NT5C2 mutation and resistance to chemotherapy as key evolutionary drivers that shape clonal evolution in relapsed ALL and support a role for IMPDH inhibition in the treatment of ALL.

Keywords: 5′-Nucleotidase, Animals, Cell Proliferation, Clonal Evolution, Disease Models, Animal, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm, Female, Gain of Function Mutation, Guanosine, HEK293 Cells, Humans, IMP Dehydrogenase, Male, Mercaptopurine, Mice, Mutation, Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma, Purines, Receptor, Notch1, Recurrence, Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays

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