May 22, 2023
Rearrangments in Histone-lysine-N-methyltransferase 2A (KMT2Ar) are associated with pediatric, adult and therapy-induced acute leukemias. Infants with KMT2Ar acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have a poor prognosis with an event-free-survival of 38%. Herein we evaluate 1116 FDA approved compounds in primary KMT2Ar infant ALL specimens and identify a sensitivity to proteasome inhibition. Upon exposure to this class of agents, cells demonstrate a depletion of histone H2B monoubiquitination (H2Bub1) and histone H3 lysine 79 dimethylation (H3K79me2) at KMT2A target genes in addition to a downregulation of the KMT2A gene expression signature, providing evidence that it targets the KMT2A transcriptional complex and alters the epigenome. A cohort of relapsed/refractory KMT2Ar patients treated with this approach on a compassionate basis had an overall response rate of 90%. In conclusion, we report on a high throughput drug screen in primary pediatric leukemia specimens whose results translate into clinically meaningful responses. This innovative treatment approach is now being evaluated in a multi-institutional upfront trial for infants with newly diagnosed ALL.
Genedata Screener was used in this work to analyze high throughput screening data, including dose-response curves.