Bidirectional linkage between the B-cell receptor and NOTCH1 in chronic lymphocytic leukemia and in Richter's syndrome: therapeutic implications

Francesca Arruga, Valeria Bracciamà, Nicoletta Vitale, Tiziana Vaisitti, Katiuscia Gizzi, Alison Yeomans, Marta Coscia, Giovanni D'Arena, Gianluca Gaidano, John N Allan, Richard R Furman, Graham Packham, Francesco Forconi, Silvia Deaglio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

NOTCH1 mutations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) lead to accumulation of NOTCH1 intracellular domain (NICD) and prolong signaling. These mutations associate with a more aggressive disease compared to wild-type (WT) CLL. In this work we demonstrate a bidirectional functional relationship between NOTCH1 and the B cell receptor (BCR) pathways. By using highly homogeneous cohorts of primary CLL cells, activation of NOTCH1 is shown to increase expression of surface IgM, as well as LYN, BTK, and BLNK, ultimately enhancing BCR signaling responses, including global mRNA translation. Upon BCR cross-linking, NOTCH1 itself is actively translated and increased on cell surface. Furthermore, BCR ligation induces calcium mobilization that can facilitate ligand-independent NOTCH1 activation. These data suggest that the two pathways are functionally linked, providing a rationale for dual inhibition strategies. Consistently, addition of the γ-secretase inhibitor DAPT to ibrutinib significantly potentiates its effects, both in vitro and in a short-term patient-derived xenograft model. While this observation may find limited applications in the CLL field, it is more relevant for Richter's Syndrome (RS) management, where very few successful therapeutic options exist. Treatment of RS-patient-derived xenografts (RS-PDX) with the combination of ibrutinib and DAPT decreases disease burden and increases overall survival.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLeukemia
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Aug 29 2019

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