Publications by authors named "Stanley W K Ng"

12 Publications

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Sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 3 potentiates inflammatory programs in normal and leukemia stem cells to promote differentiation.

Blood Cancer Discov 2021 Jan 1;2(1):32-53. Epub 2020 Dec 1.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a caricature of normal hematopoiesis, driven from leukemia stem cells (LSC) that share some hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) programs including responsiveness to inflammatory signaling. Although inflammation dysregulates mature myeloid cells and influences stemness programs and lineage determination in HSC by activating stress myelopoiesis, such roles in LSC are poorly understood. Here, we show that S1PR3, a receptor for the bioactive lipid sphingosine-1-phosphate, is a central regulator which drives myeloid differentiation and activates inflammatory programs in both HSC and LSC. S1PR3-mediated inflammatory signatures varied in a continuum from primitive to mature myeloid states across AML patient cohorts, each with distinct phenotypic and clinical properties. S1PR3 was high in LSC and blasts of mature myeloid samples with linkages to chemosensitivity, while S1PR3 activation in primitive samples promoted LSC differentiation leading to eradication. Our studies open new avenues for therapeutic target identification specific for each AML subset.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/2643-3230.BCD-20-0155DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7116590PMC
January 2021

Integration of intra-sample contextual error modeling for improved detection of somatic mutations from deep sequencing.

Sci Adv 2020 Dec 9;6(50). Epub 2020 Dec 9.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Sensitive mutation detection by next-generation sequencing is critical for early cancer detection, monitoring minimal/measurable residual disease (MRD), and guiding precision oncology. Nevertheless, because of artifacts introduced during library preparation and sequencing, the detection of low-frequency variants at high specificity is problematic. Here, we present Espresso, an error suppression method that considers local sequence features to accurately detect single-nucleotide variants (SNVs). Compared to other advanced error suppression techniques, Espresso consistently demonstrated lower numbers of false-positive mutation calls and greater sensitivity. We demonstrated Espresso's superior performance in detecting MRD in the peripheral blood of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) throughout their treatment course. Furthermore, we showed that accurate mutation calling in a small number of informative genomic loci might provide a cost-efficient strategy for pragmatic risk prediction of AML development in healthy individuals. More broadly, we aim for Espresso to aid with accurate mutation detection in many other research and clinical settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abe3722DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7725472PMC
December 2020

CC-90009, a novel cereblon E3 ligase modulator, targets acute myeloid leukemia blasts and leukemia stem cells.

Blood 2021 02;137(5):661-677

Bristol-Myers Squibb, San Diego, CA.

A number of clinically validated drugs have been developed by repurposing the CUL4-DDB1-CRBN-RBX1 (CRL4CRBN) E3 ubiquitin ligase complex with molecular glue degraders to eliminate disease-driving proteins. Here, we present the identification of a first-in-class GSPT1-selective cereblon E3 ligase modulator, CC-90009. Biochemical, structural, and molecular characterization demonstrates that CC-90009 coopts the CRL4CRBN to selectively target GSPT1 for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Depletion of GSPT1 by CC-90009 rapidly induces acute myeloid leukemia (AML) apoptosis, reducing leukemia engraftment and leukemia stem cells (LSCs) in large-scale primary patient xenografting of 35 independent AML samples, including those with adverse risk features. Using a genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screen for effectors of CC-90009 response, we uncovered the ILF2 and ILF3 heterodimeric complex as a novel regulator of cereblon expression. Knockout of ILF2/ILF3 decreases the production of full-length cereblon protein via modulating CRBN messenger RNA alternative splicing, leading to diminished response to CC-90009. The screen also revealed that the mTOR signaling and the integrated stress response specifically regulate the response to CC-90009 in contrast to other cereblon modulators. Hyperactivation of the mTOR pathway by inactivation of TSC1 and TSC2 protected against the growth inhibitory effect of CC-90009 by reducing CC-90009-induced binding of GSPT1 to cereblon and subsequent GSPT1 degradation. On the other hand, GSPT1 degradation promoted the activation of the GCN1/GCN2/ATF4 pathway and subsequent apoptosis in AML cells. Collectively, CC-90009 activity is mediated by multiple layers of signaling networks and pathways within AML blasts and LSCs, whose elucidation gives insight into further assessment of CC-90009s clinical utility. These trials were registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as #NCT02848001 and #NCT04336982).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020008676DOI Listing
February 2021

A stemness screen reveals as a promoter of human leukemia stem cell latency.

Blood 2019 05 22;133(20):2198-2211. Epub 2019 Feb 22.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada.

There is a growing body of evidence that the molecular properties of leukemia stem cells (LSCs) are associated with clinical outcomes in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and LSCs have been linked to therapy failure and relapse. Thus, a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that contribute to the persistence and regenerative potential of LSCs is expected to result in the development of more effective therapies. We therefore interrogated functionally validated data sets of LSC-specific genes together with their known protein interactors and selected 64 candidates for a competitive in vivo gain-of-function screen to identify genes that enhanced stemness in human cord blood hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. A consistent effect observed for the top hits was the ability to restrain early repopulation kinetics while preserving regenerative potential. Overexpression (OE) of the most promising candidate, the orphan gene , in a patient-derived AML model (8227) promoted the retention of LSCs in a primitive state manifested by relative expansion of CD34 cells, accumulation of cells in G, and reduced output of differentiated progeny. Despite delayed early repopulation, at later times, -OE resulted in the expansion of self-renewing LSCs. In contrast, silencing in primary AML reduced regenerative potential. Mechanistically, our multidimensional confocal analysis found that regulates G exit by interfering with nuclear localization of its target PAK4, with concomitant reduction of global H4K16ac levels. These data identify as a novel regulator of LSC latency and reveal a link between the regulation of stem cell kinetics and pool size during regeneration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2018-10-881441DOI Listing
May 2019

Integrated Stress Response Activity Marks Stem Cells in Normal Hematopoiesis and Leukemia.

Cell Rep 2018 10;25(5):1109-1117.e5

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, ON M5G 1L7, Canada; Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8, Canada. Electronic address:

Lifelong maintenance of the blood system requires equilibrium between clearance of damaged hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and long-term survival of the HSC pool. Severe perturbations of cellular homeostasis result in rapid HSC loss to maintain clonal purity. However, normal homeostatic processes can also generate lower-level stress; how HSCs survive these conditions remains unknown. Here we show that the integrated stress response (ISR) is uniquely active in HSCs and facilitates their persistence. Activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4) mediates the ISR and is highly expressed in HSCs due to scarcity of the eIF2 translation initiation complex. Amino acid deprivation results in eIF2α phosphorylation-dependent upregulation of ATF4, promoting HSC survival. Primitive acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells also display eIF2 scarcity and ISR activity marks leukemia stem cells (LSCs) in primary AML samples. These findings identify a link between the ISR and stem cell survival in the normal and leukemic contexts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2018.10.021DOI Listing
October 2018

The stem cell-associated gene expression signature allows risk stratification in pediatric acute myeloid leukemia.

Leukemia 2019 02 8;33(2):348-357. Epub 2018 Aug 8.

UMR-S 1172, JPArc - Jean-Pierre AUBERT Research Center Neurosciences et Cancer, Univ. Lille, Inserm, CHU Lille, Lille, France.

Despite constant progress in prognostic risk stratification, children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) still relapse. Treatment failure and subsequent relapse have been attributed to acute myeloid leukemia-initiating cells (LSC), which harbor stem cell properties and are inherently chemoresistant. Although pediatric and adult AML represent two genetically very distinct diseases, we reasoned that common LSC gene expression programs are shared and consequently, the highly prognostic LSC17 signature score recently developed in adults may also be of clinical interest in childhood AML. Here, we demonstrated prognostic relevance of the LSC17 score in pediatric non-core-binding factor AML using Nanostring technology (ELAM02) and RNA-seq data from the NCI (TARGET-AML). AML were stratified by LSC17 quartile groups (lowest 25%, intermediate 50% and highest 25%) and children with low LSC17 score had significantly better event-free survival (EFS: HR = 3.35 (95%CI = 1.64-6.82), P < 0.001) and overall survival (OS: HR = 3.51 (95%CI = 1.38-8.92), P = 0.008) compared with patients with high LSC17 scores. More importantly, the high LSC17 score was an independent negative EFS and OS prognosticator determined by multivariate Cox model analysis (EFS: HR = 3.42 (95% CI = 1.63-7.16), P = 0.001; OS HR = 3.02 (95%CI = 1.16-7.85), P = 0.026). In conclusion, we have demonstrated the broad applicability of the LSC17 score in the clinical management of AML by extending its prognostic relevance to pediatric AML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41375-018-0227-5DOI Listing
February 2019

Prediction of acute myeloid leukaemia risk in healthy individuals.

Nature 2018 07 9;559(7714):400-404. Epub 2018 Jul 9.

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The incidence of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) increases with age and mortality exceeds 90% when diagnosed after age 65. Most cases arise without any detectable early symptoms and patients usually present with the acute complications of bone marrow failure. The onset of such de novo AML cases is typically preceded by the accumulation of somatic mutations in preleukaemic haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) that undergo clonal expansion. However, recurrent AML mutations also accumulate in HSPCs during ageing of healthy individuals who do not develop AML, a phenomenon referred to as age-related clonal haematopoiesis (ARCH). Here we use deep sequencing to analyse genes that are recurrently mutated in AML to distinguish between individuals who have a high risk of developing AML and those with benign ARCH. We analysed peripheral blood cells from 95 individuals that were obtained on average 6.3 years before AML diagnosis (pre-AML group), together with 414 unselected age- and gender-matched individuals (control group). Pre-AML cases were distinct from controls and had more mutations per sample, higher variant allele frequencies, indicating greater clonal expansion, and showed enrichment of mutations in specific genes. Genetic parameters were used to derive a model that accurately predicted AML-free survival; this model was validated in an independent cohort of 29 pre-AML cases and 262 controls. Because AML is rare, we also developed an AML predictive model using a large electronic health record database that identified individuals at greater risk. Collectively our findings provide proof-of-concept that it is possible to discriminate ARCH from pre-AML many years before malignant transformation. This could in future enable earlier detection and monitoring, and may help to inform intervention.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0317-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6485381PMC
July 2018

Leukemic stem cell signatures identify novel therapeutics targeting acute myeloid leukemia.

Blood Cancer J 2018 06 6;8(6):52. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

Department of Pediatrics, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.

Therapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) involves intense cytotoxic treatment and yet approximately 70% of AML are refractory to initial therapy or eventually relapse. This is at least partially driven by the chemo-resistant nature of the leukemic stem cells (LSCs) that sustain the disease, and therefore novel anti-LSC therapies could decrease relapses and improve survival. We performed in silico analysis of highly prognostic human AML LSC gene expression signatures using existing datasets of drug-gene interactions to identify compounds predicted to target LSC gene programs. Filtering against compounds that would inhibit a hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene signature resulted in a list of 151 anti-LSC candidates. Using a novel in vitro LSC assay, we screened 84 candidate compounds at multiple doses and confirmed 14 drugs that effectively eliminate human AML LSCs. Three drug families presenting with multiple hits, namely antihistamines (astemizole and terfenadine), cardiac glycosides (strophanthidin, digoxin and ouabain) and glucocorticoids (budesonide, halcinonide and mometasone), were validated for their activity against human primary AML samples. Our study demonstrates the efficacy of combining computational analysis of stem cell gene expression signatures with in vitro screening to identify novel compounds that target the therapy-resistant LSC at the root of relapse in AML.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41408-018-0087-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6889502PMC
June 2018

Tracing the origins of relapse in acute myeloid leukaemia to stem cells.

Nature 2017 07 28;547(7661):104-108. Epub 2017 Jun 28.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2M9, Canada.

In acute myeloid leukaemia, long-term survival is poor as most patients relapse despite achieving remission. Historically, the failure of therapy has been thought to be due to mutations that produce drug resistance, possibly arising as a consequence of the mutagenic properties of chemotherapy drugs. However, other lines of evidence have pointed to the pre-existence of drug-resistant cells. For example, deep sequencing of paired diagnosis and relapse acute myeloid leukaemia samples has provided direct evidence that relapse in some cases is generated from minor genetic subclones present at diagnosis that survive chemotherapy, suggesting that resistant cells are generated by evolutionary processes before treatment and are selected by therapy. Nevertheless, the mechanisms of therapy failure and capacity for leukaemic regeneration remain obscure, as sequence analysis alone does not provide insight into the cell types that are fated to drive relapse. Although leukaemia stem cells have been linked to relapse owing to their dormancy and self-renewal properties, and leukaemia stem cell gene expression signatures are highly predictive of therapy failure, experimental studies have been primarily correlative and a role for leukaemia stem cells in acute myeloid leukaemia relapse has not been directly proved. Here, through combined genetic and functional analysis of purified subpopulations and xenografts from paired diagnosis/relapse samples, we identify therapy-resistant cells already present at diagnosis and two major patterns of relapse. In some cases, relapse originated from rare leukaemia stem cells with a haematopoietic stem/progenitor cell phenotype, while in other instances relapse developed from larger subclones of immunophenotypically committed leukaemia cells that retained strong stemness transcriptional signatures. The identification of distinct patterns of relapse should lead to improved methods for disease management and monitoring in acute myeloid leukaemia. Moreover, the shared functional and transcriptional stemness properties that underlie both cellular origins of relapse emphasize the importance of developing new therapeutic approaches that target stemness to prevent relapse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature22993DOI Listing
July 2017

A 17-gene stemness score for rapid determination of risk in acute leukaemia.

Nature 2016 12 7;540(7633):433-437. Epub 2016 Dec 7.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2M9, Canada.

Refractoriness to induction chemotherapy and relapse after achievement of remission are the main obstacles to cure in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). After standard induction chemotherapy, patients are assigned to different post-remission strategies on the basis of cytogenetic and molecular abnormalities that broadly define adverse, intermediate and favourable risk categories. However, some patients do not respond to induction therapy and another subset will eventually relapse despite the lack of adverse risk factors. There is an urgent need for better biomarkers to identify these high-risk patients before starting induction chemotherapy, to enable testing of alternative induction strategies in clinical trials. The high rate of relapse in AML has been attributed to the persistence of leukaemia stem cells (LSCs), which possess a number of stem cell properties, including quiescence, that are linked to therapy resistance. Here, to develop predictive and/or prognostic biomarkers related to stemness, we generated a list of genes that are differentially expressed between 138 LSC and 89 LSC cell fractions from 78 AML patients validated by xenotransplantation. To extract the core transcriptional components of stemness relevant to clinical outcomes, we performed sparse regression analysis of LSC gene expression against survival in a large training cohort, generating a 17-gene LSC score (LSC17). The LSC17 score was highly prognostic in five independent cohorts comprising patients of diverse AML subtypes (n = 908) and contributed greatly to accurate prediction of initial therapy resistance. Patients with high LSC17 scores had poor outcomes with current treatments including allogeneic stem cell transplantation. The LSC17 score provides clinicians with a rapid and powerful tool to identify AML patients who do not benefit from standard therapy and who should be enrolled in trials evaluating novel upfront or post-remission strategies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature20598DOI Listing
December 2016

miR-126 Regulates Distinct Self-Renewal Outcomes in Normal and Malignant Hematopoietic Stem Cells.

Cancer Cell 2016 Feb 28;29(2):214-28. Epub 2016 Jan 28.

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5G 1L7, Canada; Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5G 1L7, Canada; Princess Margaret Cancer Research Tower, Room 8-301, 101 College Street, Toronto M5G 1L7, Canada. Electronic address:

To investigate miRNA function in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) stem cells (LSC), we generated a prognostic LSC-associated miRNA signature derived from functionally validated subpopulations of AML samples. For one signature miRNA, miR-126, high bioactivity aggregated all in vivo patient sample LSC activity into a single sorted population, tightly coupling miR-126 expression to LSC function. Through functional studies, miR-126 was found to restrain cell cycle progression, prevent differentiation, and increase self-renewal of primary LSC in vivo. Compared with prior results showing miR-126 regulation of normal hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) cycling, these functional stem effects are opposite between LSC and HSC. Combined transcriptome and proteome analysis demonstrates that miR-126 targets the PI3K/AKT/MTOR signaling pathway, preserving LSC quiescence and promoting chemotherapy resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2015.12.011DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4749543PMC
February 2016