Comprehensive Transcriptomic Analysis of VISTA in Acute Myeloid Leukemia: Insights into Its Prognostic Value

Simona Pagliuca, Carmelo Gurnari, Keman Zhang, Tariq Kewan, Waled Bahaj, Minako Mori, Ishani Nautiyal, Marie Thérèse Rubio, Francesca Ferraro, Jaroslaw P. Maciejewski, Li Wang, Valeria Visconte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The V-domain Ig suppressor of T-cell activation (VISTA) has been recognized as a critical negative regulator of antitumor immune response and is gaining growing interest as a potential pharmacological target in immunotherapy. This molecule is highly expressed in hematopoietic stem cells and myeloid compartment, and it has been found upmodulated in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, VISTA-associated immune features are relatively unexplored in myeloid malignancies. Herein, we aimed to explore whether this immune checkpoint regulator could play a role in the generation of an immune escape environment in AML patients. We characterized VISTA mRNA expression levels in leukemia cell lines and in large publicly available cohorts of specimens from bone marrow of healthy individuals and AML patients at diagnosis by deploying bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing. We also defined the correlations with leukemia-associated burden using results of whole-exome sequencing of AML samples at disease onset. We showed that VISTA expression linearly increased across the myeloid differentiation tree in normal hematopoiesis. Accordingly, its transcript was highly enriched in AML cell lines as well as in AML patients at diagnosis presenting with myelomonocytic and monocytic differentiation. A strong correlation was seen with NPM1 mutations regardless of the presence of FLT3 lesions. Furthermore, VISTA expression levels at baseline correlated with disease recurrence in patients with normal karyotype and NPM1 mutations, a subgroup traditionally considered as favorable according to current diagnostic schemes. Indeed, when compared to patients with long-term remission (>5 years after standard chemotherapy regimens), cases relapsing within 2 years from diagnosis had increased VISTA expression in both leukemia and T cells. Our results suggest a rationale for developing VISTA-targeted therapeutic strategies to treat molecularly defined subgroups of AML patients to prevent disease recurrence and treatment resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14885
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Volume23
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • AML immunotherapy
  • NPM1
  • VISTA
  • immune checkpoint regulation
  • immune escape

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