Hes1 as a Mediator of Notch Signalling in T-cell Development and Notch1- Induced T-ALL

The evolutionarily conserved Notch signalling pathway controls a broad spectrum of cell fate decisions in organisms as diverse as fruit flies and mice. Whithin the murine haematopoietic system, Notch1 is indispensable for T cell development as conditional inactivation of Notch1 in bone marrow (BM) precursors results in a complete block in T-cell development and ectopic B-cell development in the thymus. Conversely, constitutive activation of Notch1 signalling plays a causative role in the development of acute T-cell lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL). Numerous mutations within the Notch1 gene, which result in aberrent activation of Notch1 signalling, have been identified in > 50% of human T-ALL patients. Therefore, gain-of-function studies in murine models of T-ALL have been employed by many laboratories to elucidate the molecular mechanisms acting either cooperatively or downstream of oncogenic Notch1 signalling in development and progression of T-ALL. The best-characterized Notch1 target gene to date is a member of the bHLH family of transcriptional repressors, Hes1. This study focuses on the role of Hes1 as a mediator of Notch1 signalling in adult murine haematopoietic development, as well as the requirement for Hes1 in T-ALL development and maintenance. Conditional inactivation of Hes1 in adult murine BM cells results in severe thymic hypoplasia, while myeloid and B cell development remain unperturbed. Upon transplantation in congenic recipients, Hes1-/- progenitors give rise to only a small number of mature T cells. Hes1-inactivation does not however cause ectopic B-cell development in the thymus, and therefore does not phenocopy the loss of Notch1. Thus, while Notch1 signalling is indispensable for T versus B-cell fate specification, this function is not mediated exclusively via Hes1. Strikingly, in a competitive BM chimera setting, Hes1-/- progenitors completely fail to generate T cells. The mechanism by which Hes1 inactivation results in depleted T cell numbers remains to be elucidated, although we have shown that loss of Hes1 does not result in enhanced cell death. In addition, preliminary data are indicative of cell-cycle perturbation in Hes1-deficient immature T cells. Finally, we have demonstrated that upon IT transplantation, Hes1-deficient progenitors successfully give rise to T-cells at all stages of development. This data strongly indicates that Hes1 deficiency does not result in an intrinsic developmental defect but rather in the inability of T cell progenitors to efficiently home to the thymus from the BM. Upregulation of Hes1 expression has been observed in both human T-ALL cell lines as well as murine primary Notch1-induced T-ALL samples. However, the function of Hes1 as an effector of oncogenic Notch1 signalling in modulating disease onset or progression remained to be investigated. The requirement for Hes1 as a mediator of Notch1-induced T-ALL was addressed by inducing simultaneous deletion of Hes1 and expression of a dominant active form of Notch1 (NICD) in a murine model of T-ALL. Our data demonstrate that Hes1 is essential for the development of NICD-induced T-ALL. Loss of Hes1 prevents ectopic development of DP (CD4+CD8+) leukemic T cells in the BM and the subsequent accumulation of DP T cells in peripheral tissues, a hallmark of T-ALL, and consequently results in 10-fold increased life expectancy of experimental animals. We have further determined that Hes1 is required for the maintenance of T-ALL by inactivating Hes1 in a retrovirally pre-induced T-ALL model. Deletion of Hes1 in leukemic DP cells results in rapid cell death and enhanced survival. These data demonstrate that Hes1 is required as a mediator of Notch1 signalling in normal T cell development, and is indispensable to mediate the oncogenic effect of constitutive Notch1 activation in the induction of T-ALL.

    Keywords: Notch1 ; Hes1 ; DP T cell ; T-ALL

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 4652 (2010)
    Programme doctoral Biologie moléculaire du cancer et de l'infection
    Faculté des sciences de la vie
    Institut suisse de Recherche Expérimentale sur le Cancer
    Unité du Prof. Radtke


    Record created on 2010-02-11, modified on 2016-08-08


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