Genomic impact of transient low-dose decitabine treatment on primary AML cells.

Blood. 2013 Jan 7. [Epub ahead of print]


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is characterized by dysregulated gene expression and abnormal patterns of DNA methylation; the relationship between these events is unclear. Many AML patients are now being treated with hypomethylating agents like decitabine (DAC), although the mechanisms by which it induces remissions remain unknown. The goal of this study was to use a novel stromal co-culture assay that can expand primary AML cells to identify the immediate changes induced by DAC with a dose (100 nM) that decreases total 5-methylcytosine content and reactivates imprinted genes (without causing myeloid differentiation, which would confound downstream genomic analyses). Using array-based technologies, we found that DAC treatment caused global hypomethylation in all samples (with a preference for regions with higher levels of baseline methylation), yet there was limited correlation between changes in methylation and gene expression. Moreover, the patterns of methylation and gene expression across the samples were primarily determined by the intrinsic properties of the primary cells, rather than DAC treatment. Although DAC induces hypomethylation, we could not identify canonical target genes that are altered by DAC in primary AML cells, suggesting that the mechanism of action of DAC is more complex than previously recognized.


Klco JM, Spencer DH, Lamprecht TL, Sarkaria SM, Wylie T, Magrini V, Hundal J, Walker J, Varghese N, Erdmann-Gilmore P, Lichti CF, Meyer MR, Townsend RR, Wilson RK, Mardis ER, Ley TJ.