Background: Treatment for Cutaneous T Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) is generally not curative. Therefore, selecting therapy that is effective and tolerable is critical to clinical decision-making. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi), epigenetic modifier drugs, are commonly used but effective in only ~30% of patients. There are no predictive markers of HDACi response and the CTCL histone acetylation landscape remains unmapped. We sought to identify pre-treatment molecular markers of resistance in CTCL that progressed on HDACi therapy. Methods: Purified T cells from 39 pre/post-treatment peripheral blood samples and skin biopsies from 20 patients were subjected to RNA-seq and ChIP-seq for histone acetylation marks (H3K14/9 ac, H3K27ac). We correlated significant differences in histone acetylation with gene expression in HDACi-resistant/sensitive CTCL. We extended these findings in additional CTCL patient cohorts (RNA-seq, microarray) and using ELISA in matched CTCL patient plasma. Findings: Resistant CTCL exhibited high levels of histone acetylation, which correlated with increased expression of 338 genes (FDR < 0·05), including some novel to CTCL: BIRC5 (anti-apoptotic); RRM2 (cell cycle); TXNDC5, GSTM1 (redox); and CXCR4, LAIR2 (cell adhesion/migration). Several of these, including LAIR2, were elevated pre-treatment in HDACi-resistant CTCL. In CTCL patient plasma (n = 6), LAIR2 protein was also elevated (p < 0·01) compared to controls. Interpretation: This study is the first to connect genome-wide differences in chromatin acetylation and gene expression to HDACi-resistance in primary CTCL. Our results identify novel markers with high pre-treatment expression, such as LAIR2, as potential prognostic and/or predictors of HDACi-resistance in CTCL. Funding: NIH:CA156690, CA188286; NCATS: WU-ICTS UL1 TR000448; Siteman Cancer Center: CA091842.
- Predictive biomarker
- Therapeutic resistance