Ph-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a genetically defined high-risk ALL subtype with a generally poor prognosis. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy of birinapant, a small-molecule mimetic of the apoptotic regulator SMAC, against a diverse set of ALL subtypes. Birinapant exhibited potent and selective cytotoxicity against B-cell precursor ALL (BCP-ALL) cells that were cultured ex vivo or in vivo as patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDX). Cytotoxicity was consistently most acute in Ph-like BCP-ALL. Unbiased gene expression analysis of BCP-ALL PDX specimens identified a 68-gene signature associated with birinapant sensitivity, including an enrichment for genes involved in inflammatory response, hematopoiesis, and cell death pathways. All Ph-like PDXs analyzed clustered within this 68-gene classifier. Mechanistically, birinapant sensitivity was associated with expression of TNF receptor TNFR1 and was abrogated by interfering with the TNFα/TNFR1 interaction. In combination therapy, birinapant enhanced the in vivo efficacy of an induction-type regimen of vincristine, dexamethasone, and L-asparaginase against Ph-like ALL xenografts, offering a preclinical rationale to further evaluate this SMAC mimetic for BCP-ALL treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research