Abstract 2343

Poster Board II-320

B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling arguably plays an important role in the pathogenesis and/or progression of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Ligation of the BCR by F(ab)2 anti-μ can induce phosphorylation of p72Syk, BLNK, phospholipase C-gamma (PLCγ) and other downstream adapter/signaling molecules, inducing intracellular calcium flux and cellular activation. Prior studies found that CLL cells that expressed unmutated Ig heavy-chain variable region genes (IGHV) and the zeta-associated protein of 70 kD (ZAP-70) generally experienced greater levels of activation following treatment with anti-μ than did CLL cells that lacked expression of ZAP-70. However, we found unusual cases that lacked expression of ZAP-70 that also responded vigorously to treatment with anti-μ, suggesting that other factors contribute to the noted differences in BCR-signaling. Analyses for expression of microRNAs by microarray revealed that CLL cells that used unmutated IGHV and that expressed ZAP-70 expressed higher levels of certain microRNAs than did cases that used mutated IGHV and that lacked expression of ZAP-70. One of such microRNA, miR-155, was found to target mRNA encoding SHIP-1, a phosphatase that plays a critical role in modulating the level of BCR signaling in normal B cells. Using quantitative assays for miR-155 we found high-level expression of this microRNA was associated with proficient BCR signaling in CLL. To examine whether miR-155 could modulate the levels of SHIP-1 and/or BCR signaling in CLL cells we transfected primary leukemia cells from each of multiple patients with control oligo-RNAs, miR-155, or a specific inhibitor of miR-155 (miR-155 inhibitor). Twenty-four hours later the cells were stimulated with anti-μ or control antibody and then examined 10 minutes later for expression of SHIP-1, induced calcium influx, or phosphorylation of kinases and adapter proteins that are involved in BCR signaling. CLL cells that had low expression levels of miR-155 and that were poorly responsive BCR had significantly higher levels of calcium influx and phosphorylated p72Syk, BLNK, and PLCγ in response to anti-μ following transfection with miR-155 than following mock transfection or transfection with control oligo-RNA. Conversely, CLL cells that had high expression levels of miR-155 and highly responsive BCR were made to have significantly higher amounts of SHIP-1 protein and to have significantly lower relative levels of phosphorylated protein and calcium influx in response to anti-μ following transfection with the miR-155 inhibitor than did mock transfected CLL cells. These results identify miR-155 as a factor that can modulate BCR signaling in CLL in part by regulating the relative expression level of SHIP-1. These results demonstrate that differential expression of microRNAs in CLL can influence physiologic features that potentially contribute to disease progression.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.