MS4A3 promotes differentiation in chronic myeloid leukemia by enhancing common β-chain cytokine receptor endocytosis

Academic Article


  • The chronic phase of chronic myeloid leukemia (CP-CML) is characterized by the excessive production of maturating myeloid cells. As CML stem/progenitor cells (LSPCs) are poised to cycle and differentiate, LSPCs must balance conservation and differentiation to avoid exhaustion, similar to normal hematopoiesis under stress. Since BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) eliminate differentiating cells but spare BCR-ABL1-independent LSPCs, understanding the mechanisms that regulate LSPC differentiation may inform strategies to eliminate LSPCs. Upon performing a meta-analysis of published CML transcriptomes, we discovered that low expression of the MS4A3 transmembrane protein is a universal characteristic of LSPC quiescence, BCR-ABL1 independence, and transformation to blast phase (BP). Several mechanisms are involved in suppressing MS4A3, including aberrant methylation and a MECOM-C/EBPε axis. Contrary to previous reports, we find that MS4A3 does not function as a G1/S phase inhibitor but promotes endocytosis of common β-chain (βc) cytokine receptors upon GM-CSF/IL-3 stimulation, enhancing downstream signaling and cellular differentiation. This suggests that LSPCs downregulate MS4A3 to evade βc cytokine-induced differentiation and maintain a more primitive, TKI-insensitive state. Accordingly, knockdown (KD) or deletion of MS4A3/Ms4a3 promotes TKI resistance and survival of CML cells ex vivo and enhances leukemogenesis in vivo, while targeted delivery of exogenous MS4A3 protein promotes differentiation. These data support a model in which MS4A3 governs response to differentiating myeloid cytokines, providing a unifying mechanism for the differentiation block characteristic of CML quiescence and BP-CML. Promoting MS4A3 reexpression or delivery of ectopic MS4A3 may help eliminate LSPCs in vivo.
  • Published In

  • Blood  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Zhao H; Pomicter AD; Eiring AM; Franzini A; Ahmann J; Hwang JY; Senina A; Helton B; Iyer S; Yan D
  • Start Page

  • 761
  • End Page

  • 778
  • Volume

  • 139
  • Issue

  • 5