Evaluating the regulation of signaling pathways downstream of CD44 antibody treatment in AML

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a subset of leukemia that is characterized by the clonal expansion of cytogenetically and molecularly abnormal myeloid blasts. These blasts are highly proliferative accumulating in bone marrow and blood which leads to severe infections, anemia, and bone marrow failure. The poor prognosis of AML patients caused by the low tolerance to intensive chemotherapy has encouraged the pursuit of alternative therapeutic approaches. Differentiation therapy which involves the use of agents that can release the differentiation block in these leukemic blasts has emerged as a promising therapeutic approach. The use of All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) represents a successful example of such an approach, nonetheless its efficacy is restricted to one subtype of AML. Efforts have been focused on finding differentiation agents which are effective for the other more common AML subtypes. Anti-CD44 targeted antibodies that activate the CD44 cell surface antigen are a promising candidate. Previous studies have shown that anti-CD44 treatment has been able to release the differentiation block in AML1 through AML5 subtypes. The exact mechanism by which anti-CD44 treatment is able to induce its effects has not been fully elucidated. Recent studies highlight the role that epigenetic mechanisms play during haematopoiesis and leukemogenesis and therefore, in this work we investigated the epigenetic mechanisms associated with anti-CD44 induced differentiation. Using AML cell lines from different subtypes, we demonstrated that anti-CD44-induced differentiation results in an extensive change of histone modification levels. We found that inhibiting enzymes responsible for the H3K9ac, H3K4me, H3K9me, and H3K27me modifications, attenuated the anti-proliferative and differentiation promoting effects of antic-CD44 treatment. Taken together, these data highlight the promising potential of using anti-CD44 as a therapeutic agent across multiple subtypes in AML
Date of AwardAug 2019
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorJasmeen Merzaban (Supervisor)


  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia
  • Epigenetic
  • Differentiation
  • Anti-CD44

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