Assessing the role of Hes1 and identification of target genes in human and murine T-ALL

The Notch signalling pathway is an ancient cell signalling mechanism that enables short-range communications between cells and controls a broad spectrum of cell fates and developmental processes. In the haematopoietic system Notch signalling has been linked to physiological, but also to pathological phenotypes of T cell development. Identification of numerous activating mutations within the NOTCH1 receptor in human T cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) patient samples demonstrated that aberrant activation of this signalling pathway is a frequent event in T-ALL. Active Notch signalling leads to the expression of a plethora of genes that might be drivers or passengers in tumorigenesis including Hes1, which encodes a transcriptional repressor. We have therefore studied Hes1 in the context of T-ALL in mouse models that mimic human disease and in human T-ALL cell lines with the aim to evaluate whether Hes1 affects disease development and disease maintenance and to characterize its function on a molecular level. The first part of this study is dedicated to the functional characterisation of Hes1 in vivo in T-ALL mouse models and in vitro in human T-ALL cell lines. Using a retroviral bone marrow transplant model of T-ALL in which progenitor cells are transduced with a retrovirus expressing constitutive active Notch1 intracellular domain (NICD) we could show that Hes1 is not required in established, late stage T-ALL cells, but that it promotes tumour progression in the early stages of the disease. We have also investigated the function of HES1 in human T-ALL and can show that the overexpression of dominant negative versions of Hes1 in two patient derived cell lines (T-ALL1, CUTLL-1) does not affect proliferation or apoptosis, emphasising that HES1 does not affect cell viability once cells are fully transformed to the leukemic state. In the second part of the study we set out to systematically delineate the gene regulatory networks down-stream of Hes1 by combining RNA-seq and ChIP-seq analysis. Comparing the gene expression of murine premalignant, early stage NICD induced CD4+CD8+ DP cells in the presence and absence of Hes1 by RNA-seq, we unexpectedly found a predominant upregulation of genes in cells expressing Hes1 indicating that Hes1 might rather act as a positive regulator of transcription than as a transcriptional repressor of distinct target genes. Hes1 might influence transcription through secondary or indirect effects as combinatorial analysis of RNA-seq and ChIP-seq led to the identification of only a small number of potential direct target genes that are transcriptionally regulated by Hes1. In summary, the role of Hes1 in promoting the early stages of the disease appears to be highly complex and is likely to involve both direct and indirect control of gene regulatory networks.

    Keywords: Notch1 ; Hes1 ; T-ALL

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 6211 (2014)
    Programme doctoral Approches moléculaires du vivant
    Faculté des sciences de la vie
    Institut suisse de Recherche Expérimentale sur le Cancer
    Unité du Prof. Radtke
    Jury: Prof. O. Hantschel (président) ; Prof. F. Radtke (directeur) ; Dr J.-P. Bourquin, Prof. G. Guarda, Prof. J. Hülsken (rapporteurs)

    Public defense: 2014-5-28


    Record created on 2014-05-15, modified on 2016-08-09


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