Mechanism, Consequences, and Therapeutic Targeting of Abnormal IL15 Signaling in Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Anjali Mishra, Krista La Perle, Sonya Kwiatkowski, Laura A Sullivan, Gregory H Sams, Jessica Johns, Douglas P Curphey, Jing Wen, Kathleen McConnell, Jun Qi, Henry Wong, Giandomenico Russo, Jianying Zhang, Guido Marcucci, James E. Bradner, Pierluigi Porcu, Michael A. Caligiuri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


UNLABELLED: Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is the most common type of primary cutaneous lymphoma. Here, we report that patients with CTCL show increased IL15 in a clinical stage-dependent manner. Mechanistically, we show that ZEB1 is a transcriptional repressor of IL15 in T cells and that hypermethylation of the ZEB1 binding region within the IL15 promoter, as seen in patients with CTCL, prevents ZEB1 binding and causes increased transcription of IL15 Using a transgenic mouse model of IL15, we provide evidence that overexpression of IL15 induces a spontaneous CTCL that mimics the human neoplasm. Excessive autocrine production of IL15 in T cells inhibits an HDAC1-mediated negative autoregulatory loop, resulting in the upregulation of HDAC1 and HDAC6 and transcriptional induction of the onco-miR-21. Interruption of IL15 downstream signaling with isotype-specific HDAC inhibitors halts (HDAC1) or significantly delays (HDAC6) the progression of CTCL in vivo and provides preclinical evidence supporting a hierarchical model of oncogenic signaling in CTCL.

SIGNIFICANCE: To date, CTCL pathogenesis remains unknown, and there are no curative therapies. Our findings not only demonstrate a critical role for IL15-mediated inflammation in cutaneous T-cell lymphomagenesis, but also uncover a new oncogenic regulatory loop in CTCL involving IL15, HDAC1, HDAC6, and miR-21 that shows differential sensitivity to isotype-specific HDAC inhibitors. Cancer Discov; 6(9); 986-1005. ©2016 AACR.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 932.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986-1005
Number of pages20
JournalCancer Discovery
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


  • Journal Article


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