Intraclonal Complexity in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Fractions Enriched in Recently Born/Divided and Older/Quiescent Cells
The failure of chemotherapeutic regimens to eradicate cancers often results from the outgrowth of minor subclones with more dangerous genomic abnormalities or with self-renewing capacity. To explore such intratumor complexities in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), we measured B-cell kinetics in vivo by quantifying deuterium (2H)-labeled cells as an indicator of a cell that had divided. Separating CLL clones on the basis of reciprocal densities of chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 4 (CXCR4) and cluster designation 5 (CD5) revealed that the CXCR4dimCD5bright (proliferative) fraction contained more 2H-labeled DNA and hence divided cells than the CXCR4brightCD5dim (resting) fraction. This enrichment was confirmed by the relative expression of two cell cycle-associated molecules in the same fractions, Ki-67 and minichromosome maintenance protein 6 (MCM6). Comparisons of global gene expression between the CXCR4dimCD5bright and CXCR4brightCD5dim fractions indicated higher levels of pro-proliferation and antiapoptotic genes and genes involved in oxidative injury in the proliferative fraction. An extended immunophenotype was also defined, providing a wider range of surface molecules characteristic of each fraction. These intraclonal analyses suggest a model of CLL cell biology in which the leukemic clone contains a spectrum of cells from the proliferative fraction, enriched in recently divided robust cells that are lymphoid tissue emigrants, to the resting fraction enriched in older, less vital cells that need to immigrate to lymphoid tissue or die. The model also suggests several targets preferentially expressed in the two populations amenable for therapeutic attack. Finally, the study lays the groundwork for future analyses that might provide a more robust understanding of the development and clonal evolution of this currently incurable disease.
This work was supported in part by the National Cancer Institute/NIH (CA81554) and by philanthropic contributions from The Karches Foundation, Prince Family Foundation, Marks Foundation, Jerome Levy Foundation, Leon Levy Foundation, Andrew and Mona Albert Fund Inc., and Joseph Eletto Leukemia Research Fund. We thank Aarti Damle and The Feinstein Institute’s microarray core facility for gene expression analyses.
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