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08 2022 Blood

Non-canonical EZH2 drives retinoic acid resistance of variant acute promyelocytic leukemias.


Poplineau M, Platet N, Mazuel A, Hérault L, N'guyen L, Koide S, Nakajima-Takagi Y, Kuribayashi W, Carbuccia N, Haboub L, Vernerey J, Oshima M, Birnbaum D, Iwama A, Duprez E


Cancer cell heterogeneity is a major driver of therapy resistance. To characterize resistant cells and their vulnerabilities, we studied the PLZF-RARA variant of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), resistant to retinoic acid (RA), using single-cell multi-omics. We uncovered transcriptional and chromatin heterogeneity in leukemia cells. We identified a subset of cells resistant to RA with proliferation, DNA replication and repair signatures, that depend on a fine-tuned E2F transcriptional network targeting the epigenetic regulator Enhancer of Zeste Homolog 2 (EZH2). Epigenomic and functional analyses validated the driver role of EZH2 in RA resistance. Targeting pan-EZH2 activities (canonical/non-canonical) was necessary to eliminate leukemia relapse initiating cells, which underlies a dependency of resistant cells on an EZH2 non-canonical activity and the necessity to degrade EZH2 to overcome resistance. Our study provides critical insights into the mechanisms of RA resistance that allow us to eliminate treatment-resistant leukemia cells by targeting EZH2, thus highlighting a potential targeted therapy approach. Beyond RA resistance and APL context, our study also demonstrates the power of single-cell multi-omics to identify, characterize and clear therapy-resistant cells.

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