Activating NOTCH1 mutations occur in ∼60% of human T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias (T-ALLs), and mutations disrupting the transcription factor IKZF1 (IKAROS) occur in ∼5% of cases. To investigate the regulatory interplay between these driver genes, we have used a novel transgenic RNA interference mouse model to produce primary T-ALLs driven by reversible Ikaros knockdown. Restoring endogenous Ikaros expression in established T-ALL in vivo acutely represses Notch1 and its oncogenic target genes including Myc, and in multiple primary leukemias causes disease regression. In contrast, leukemias expressing high levels of endogenous or engineered forms of activated intracellular Notch1 (ICN1) resembling those found in human T-ALL rapidly relapse following Ikaros restoration, indicating that ICN1 functionally antagonizes Ikaros in established disease. Furthermore, we find that IKAROS mRNA expression is significantly reduced in a cohort of primary human T-ALL patient samples with activating NOTCH1/FBXW7 mutations, but is upregulated upon acute inhibition of aberrant NOTCH signaling across a panel of human T-ALL cell lines. These results demonstrate for the first time that aberrant NOTCH activity compromises IKAROS function in mouse and human T-ALL, and provide a potential explanation for the relative infrequency of IKAROS gene mutations in human T-ALL.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research