Lysine specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) is a histone H3K4me1/2 demethylase found in various transcriptional co-repressor complexes. These complexes include Histone Deacetylases (HDAC1/2) and Co-Repressor for Element-1-Silencing Transcription factor (CoREST). LSD1 mediated H3K4 demethylation can result in a repressive chromatin environment that silences gene expression. LSD1 has been shown to play a role in development in various contexts. LSD1 can interact with pluripotency factors in human embryonic stem cells and is important for decommissioning enhancers in stem cell differentiation. Beyond embryonic settings, LSD1 is also critical for hematopoietic differentiation. LSD1 is overexpressed in multiple cancer types and recent studies suggest inhibition of LSD1 reactivates the all-trans retinoic acid receptor pathway in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). These studies implicate LSD1 as a key regulator of the epigenome that modulates gene expression through post-translational modification of histones and through its presence in transcriptional complexes.

The current study describes the anti-tumor effects of a novel LSD1 inhibitor (GSK2879552) in AML. GSK2879552 is a potent, selective, mechanism-based, irreversible inhibitor of LSD1. Screening of over 150 cancer cell lines revealed that AML cells have a unique requirement for LSD1. While LSD1 inhibition did not affect the global levels of H3K4me1 or H3K4me2, local changes in these histone marks were observed near transcriptional start sites of putative LSD1 target genes. This increase in the transcriptionally activating histone modification correlated with a dose dependent increase in gene expression. Treatment with GSK2879552 promoted the expression of cell surface markers, including CD11b and CD86, associated with a differentiated immunophenotype in 12 of 13 AML cell lines. For example, in SKM-1 cells, increases in cell surface expression of CD86 and CD11b occurred after as early as one day of treatment with EC50 values of 13 and 7 nM respectively. In a separate study using an MV-4-11 engraftment model, increases in CD86 and CD11b were observed as early as 8 hours post dosing.

GSK2879552 treatment resulted in a potent anti-proliferative growth effect in 19 of 25 AML cell lines (average EC50 = 38 nM), representing a range of AML subtypes. Potent growth inhibition was also observed on AML blast colony forming ability in 4 out of 5 bone marrow samples derived from primary AML patient samples (average EC50 = 205 nM). The effects of LSD1 inhibition were further characterized in an in vivo mouse model of AML induced by transduction of mouse hematopoietic progenitor cells with a retrovirus encoding MLL-AF9 and GFP. Primary AML cells were transplanted into a cohort of secondary recipient mice and upon engraftment, the mice were treated for 17 days. After 17 days of treatment, control treated mice had 80% GFP+ cells in the bone marrow whereas treated mice possessed 2.8% GFP positive cells (p<0.012). The percentage of GFP+ cells continued to decrease to 1.8% by 1-week post therapy. Remarkably, in a preliminary assessment for survival, control-treated mice succumbed to AML by 28 days post transplant, while treated mice showed prolonged survival.

Together, these data demonstrate that pharmacological inhibition of LSD1 may provide a promising treatment for AML by promoting differentiation and subsequent growth inhibition of AML blasts. GSK2879552 is currently in late preclinical development and clinical trials are anticipated to start in 2014.

All studies were conducted in accordance with the GSK Policy on the Care, Welfare and Treatment of Laboratory Animals and were reviewed the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee either at GSK or by the ethical review process at the institution where the work was performed.


Kruger:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Mohammad:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Smitheman:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Liu:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Pappalardi:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Federowicz:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Van Aller:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Kasparec:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Tian:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Suarez:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Rouse:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Schneck:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Carson:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. McDevitt:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Ho:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. McHugh:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Miller:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Johnson:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment. Armstrong:Epizyme Inc.: Has consulted for Epizyme Inc. Other. Tummino:GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals: Employment.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

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