Acute myeloid and lymphoblastic leukemia are poor prognosis hematologic malignancies, which disseminate from the bone marrow into the blood. Blast interactions with selectins expressed by vascular endothelium promote the development of drug resistance and leukostasis. While the role of selectins in initiating leukemia blast adhesion is established, our knowledge of the involved selectin ligands is incomplete. Using various primary acute leukemia cells and U937 monoblasts, we identified here functional selectin ligands expressed by myeloblasts and lymphoblasts by performing biochemical studies, expression inhibition by RNA interference and flow adhesion assays on recombinant selectins or selectin ligands immunoadsorbed from primary blast cells. Results demonstrate that P-selectin glycoprotein ligand-1 (PSGL-1) is the major P-selectin ligand on myeloblasts, while it is much less frequently expressed and used by lymphoblasts to interact with endothelial selectins. To roll on E-selectin, myeloblasts use PSGL-1, CD44, and CD43 to various extents and the contribution of these ligands varies strongly among patients. In contrast, the interactions of PSGL-1-deficient lymphoblasts with E-selectin are mainly supported by CD43 and/or CD44. By identifying key selectin ligands expressed by acute leukemia blasts, this study offers novel insight into their involvement in mediating acute leukemia cell adhesion with vascular endothelium and may identify novel therapeutic targets.
Keywords: CLA; acute leukemia; adhesion; selectin ligands; selectins.