Crosstalk between Hedgehog pathway and the glucocorticoid receptor pathway as a basis for combination therapy in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Deborah Bongiovanni, Valeria Tosello, Valentina Saccomani, Silvia Dalla Santa, Alberto Amadori, Paola Zanovello, Erich Piovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Notwithstanding intensified therapy, a considerable fraction of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) patients face a dismal prognosis due to primary resistance to treatment and relapse, raising the need for more efficient and targeted therapies. Hedgehog (HH) signaling is a major developmental pathway frequently deregulated in cancer, for which a role in T-ALL is emerging. Mounting evidence suggests that ligand-independent activation of HH pathway occurs in cancer including T-ALL, emphasizing the necessity of dissecting the complex interplay between HH and other signaling pathways regulating activation. In this work, we present a therapeutically relevant crosstalk between HH signaling and the glucocorticoid receptor (NR3C1) pathway acting at the level of GLI1 transcription factor. GLI inhibitor GANT61 and dexamethasone were shown to exert a synergistic anti-leukemic effect in vitro in T-ALL cell lines and patient-derived xenografts. Mechanistically, dexamethasone-activated NR3C1 impaired GLI1 function by dynamically modulating the recruitment of PCAF acetyltransferase and HDAC1 deacetylase. Increased GLI1 acetylation was associated with compromised transcriptional activity and reduced protein stability. In summary, our study identifies a novel crosstalk between GLI1 and NR3C1 signaling pathway which could be exploited in HH-dependent malignancies to increase therapeutic efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6544-6555
Number of pages12
JournalOncogene
Volume39
Issue number42
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research

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