Malignant progenitors from patients with acute myelogenous leukemia are sensitive to a diphtheria toxin-granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor fusion protein

Donna E. Hogge, Cheryl L. Willman, Robert J. Kreitman, Marc Berger, Philip D. Hall, Kenneth J. Kopecky, Chris McLain, Edward P. Tagge, Connie J. Eaves, Arthur E. Frankel

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We have previously demonstrated that human granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) fused to a truncated diphtheria toxin (DT388-GMCSF) kills acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) cell lines bearing the GM-CSF receptor. We now report that exposure of malignant cells from 50 different patients with AML for 48 hours in culture to DT388-GMCSF reduces by a median of 1.6 logs (range, 0 to 3.7 logs) the number of leukemic cells capable of forming colonies in semisolid media (leukemic colony-forming cells [CFU-L]) with a median IC50 of 3 x 10-12 mol/L (range, 5 to >4,000 x 10-12 mol/L). Furthermore, the cell kill is dependent on the presence of high-affinity GM-CSF receptors on leukemic blasts, because CFU-L from 27 of 28 AML samples expressing ≤35 GM-CSF receptors per cell were inhibited by the toxin, whereas the colony growth from all 4 leukemic samples (2 AML, 1 acute lymphoblastic leukemia [ALL], and 1 prolymphocytic leukemia [PLL]) that had less than 35 receptors per cell was unaffected by the drug. Sensitivity of CFU-L to DT388-GMCSF was seen regardless of the clinical responsiveness of the patient's leukemia to standard chemotherapy agents. In contrast, clonogenic cells from normal bone marrow formed colonies at near control numbers after exposure to much higher toxin concentrations (4 x 10-9 mol/L) than those required to kill CFU-L from most patients. Thus, leukemic progenitors isolated directly from the peripheral blood of most AML patients show the same sensitivity to DT388-GMCSF as previously demonstrated for AML cell lines. Under the same conditions of exposure, normal hematopoietic progenitors are relatively unaffected by DT388-GMCSF, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic agent in AML.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology

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