Background: Mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene translocations are found in ~75% infant and 10% adult acute leukemia, showing a poor prognosis. Lysine-specific demethylase 1 (LSD1) has recently been implicated to be a drug target for this subtype of leukemia. More studies using potent LSD1 inhibitors against MLL-rearranged leukemia are needed.
Methods: LSD1 inhibitors were examined for their biochemical and biological activities against LSD1 and MLL-rearranged leukemia as well as other cancer cells.
Results: Potent LSD1 inhibitors with biochemical IC50 values of 9.8-77 nM were found to strongly inhibit proliferation of MLL-rearranged leukemia cells with EC50 of 10-320 nM, while these compounds are generally non-cytotoxic to several other tumor cells. LSD1 inhibition increased histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4) methylation, downregulated expression of several leukemia-relevant genes, induced apoptosis and differentiation, and inhibited self-renewal of stem-like leukemia cells. Moreover, LSD1 inhibitors worked synergistically with inhibition of DOT1L, a histone H3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase, against MLL-rearranged leukemia. The most potent LSD1 inhibitor showed significant in vivo activity in a systemic mouse model of MLL-rearranged leukemia without overt toxicities. Mechanistically, LSD1 inhibitors caused significant upregulation of several pathways that promote hematopoietic differentiation and apoptosis.
Conclusions: LSD1 is a drug target for MLL-rearranged leukemia, and LSD1 inhibitors are potential therapeutics for the malignancy.
Keywords: Drug discovery; Enzyme inhibitor; Leukemia therapeutics; Lysine-specific demethylase 1; MLL-rearranged leukemia.