CCR9 overexpression promotes T-ALL progression by enhancing cholesterol biosynthesis
Introduction: T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematological malignancy of the lymphoid progenitor cells, contributing to ∼ 20% of the total ALL cases, with a higher prevalence in adults than children. Despite the important role of human T-ALL cell lines in understanding the pathobiology of the disease, a detailed comparison of the tumorigenic potentials of two commonly used T-ALL cell lines, MOLT4 and JURKAT cells, is still lacking. Methodology: In the present study, NOD- Prkdc scid IL2rgd ull (NTG) mice were intravenously injected with MOLT4, JURKAT cells, and PBS as a control. The leukemiac cell homing/infiltration into the bone marrow, blood, liver and spleen was investigated for bioluminescence imaging, flow cytometry, and immunohistochemistry staining. Gene expression profiling of the two cell lines was performed via RNA-seq to identify the differentially expressed genes (DEGs). CCR9 identified as a DEG, was further screened for its role in invasion and metastasis in both cell lines in vitro . Moreover, a JURKAT cell line with overexpressed CCR9 (Jurkat-OeCCR9) was investigated for T-ALL formation in the NTG mice as compared to the GFP control. Jurkat-OeCCR9 cells were then subjected to transcriptome analysis to identify the genes and pathways associated with the upregulation of CCR9 leading to enhanced tumirogenesis. The DEGs of the CCR9-associated upregulation were validated both at mRNA and protein levels. Simvastatin was used to assess the effect of cholesterol biosynthesis inhibition on the aggressiveness of T-ALL cells. Results: Comparison of the leukemogenic potentials of the two T-ALL cell lines showed the relatively higher leukemogenic potential of MOLT4 cells, characterized by their enhanced tissue infiltration in NOD- PrkdcscidIL2rgdull (NTG) mice. Transcriptmoe analysis of the two cell lines revealed numerous DEGs, including CCR9, enriched in vital signaling pathways associated with growth and proliferation. Notably, the upregulation of CCR9 also promoted the tissue infiltration of JURKAT cells in vitro and in NTG mice. Transcriptome analysis revealed that CCR9 overexpression facilitated cholesterol production by upregulating the expression of the transcriptional factor SREBF2, and the downstream genes: MSMO1, MVD, HMGCS1, and HMGCR, which was then corroborated at the protein levels. Notably, simvastatin treatment reduced the migration of the CCR9-overexpressing JURKAT cells, suggesting the importance of cholesterol in T-ALL progression. Conclusions: This study highlights the distinct tumorigenic potentials of two T-ALL cell lines and reveals CCR9-regulated enhanced cholesterol biosynthesis in T-ALL.