Internal Tandem Duplication mutations of Fms Related Receptor Tyrosine Kinase 3 (FLT3), known as FLT3-ITD mutations, are associated with poor prognosis in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The clinical efficacy of inhibiting FLT3 in AML is limited by the rapid development of drug resistance and relapse, underscoring a need for more potent and durable treatment strategies. The early persistence of leukemic blasts during FLT3 inhibition is a key driver of resistance. We find that in combination, inhibitors of Lysine Specific Demethylase 1 (LSD1) potentiate the activity of FLT3 inhibitors, driving synergistic cell death. This novel therapeutic approach has the potential to drive deeper therapeutic responses in FLT3-Mutant AML, delaying or preventing the development of resistance.

LSD1 is a dynamic DNA-associated protein that functions as a chromatin modifier and transcription factor. LSD1 removes methylation on both lysine 4 of histone H3 (H3K4), associated with transcriptional activation, and lysine 9 (H3K9), associated with transcriptional repression. Additionally, LSD1 has been reported to function as a transcription factor independent of its catalytic demethylase function. LSD1 inhibition reduces cell proliferation in several cancer types. In AML specifically, inhibition of LSD1 has been reported to activate enhancers associated with genes that promote differentiation. We hypothesized that combining LSD1 inhibition with FLT3 inhibition in FLT3-ITD AML would result in synergistic effects on cell viability through reactivating differentiation pathways and more strongly blocking proliferation. In this study, we aimed to examine the efficacy, transcriptional effects, and changes in chromatin dynamics when combining LSD1 inhibition with FLT3 inhibition in a FLT3-ITD mutant cell line and patient samples.

We used matrix combination screening to determine that combining the FLT3 inhibitor Quizartinib with LSD1 inhibitors (GSK-2879552 or ORY-1001) synergistically represses cell viability in the FLT3-ITD mutant MOLM-13 cell line and in multiple primary AML samples. RNA-seq followed by Gene Set Enrichment Analysis revealed that combining LSD1 and FLT3 inhibition synergistically represses target genes of the oncogenic transcription factor MYC. This finding was corroborated through high-throughput genome-wide profiling of histone marks, using the recently developed technique Cleavage Under Targets and Tagmentation (CUT&Tag). Specifically, we discovered several promoter regions in which acetylation of lysine 27 of Histone H3 (H3K27Ac), associated with transcriptional activation, was repressed by combining LSD1 and FLT3 inhibition. The genes associated with these regions were strongly enriched for known MYC target genes. Through additional genomic profiling methods including ChIP-seq and ATAC-seq, we have established potential roles for several DNA-binding transcription factors including CEBPA, RUNX1, STAT5, and LSD1 itself, that may mediate repression of MYC function resulting from combining LSD1 and FLT3 inhibition. Together, our work establishes LSD1 and FLT3 inhibitor combinations as a promising treatment strategy in FLT3-ITD AML. Importantly, this study identifies combined FLT3 and LSD1 inhibition as an effective strategy to indirectly target MYC function, as MYC is often referred to as an "undruggable" target. Furthermore, it has the potential to drive deeper molecular responses in FLT3-mutant AML, decreasing the likelihood of treatment resistance.

Disclosures

Druker:Bristol-Myers Squibb: Research Funding; Blueprint Medicines: Consultancy, Current equity holder in private company, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; ARIAD: Research Funding; Cepheid: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Third Coast Therapeutics: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; VB Therapeutics: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Millipore (formerly Upstate Biotechnology): Patents & Royalties; Pfizer: Research Funding; The RUNX1 Research Program: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Gilead Sciences: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Vivid Biosciences: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Patient True Talks: Consultancy; Oregon Health & Science University: Patents & Royalties; Novartis Pharmaceuticals: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; MolecularMD (acquired by ICON): Consultancy, Current equity holder in publicly-traded company, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Henry Stewart Talks: Patents & Royalties; Iterion Therapeutics (formerly Beta Cat Pharmaceuticals): Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Aptose Therapeutics Inc. (formerly Lorus): Consultancy, Current equity holder in publicly-traded company, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Merck & Co: Patents & Royalties; GRAIL: Consultancy, Current equity holder in private company, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Aileron Therapeutics: Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; McGraw Hill: Patents & Royalties; Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Research Funding; ALLCRON: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Amgen: Current equity holder in publicly-traded company, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Patents & Royalties; EnLiven: Consultancy, Research Funding. Maxson:Gilead Sciences: Research Funding; Ionis Pharmaceuticals: Other: Joint oversight committee for a collaboration between OHSU and Ionis Pharmaceuticals.

Author notes

*

Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.