CLEC12A and CD33 coexpression as a preferential target for pediatric AML combinatorial immunotherapy

Blood. 2021 Feb 25;137(8):1037-1049. doi: 10.1182/blood.2020006921.


Emerging immunotherapies such as chimeric antigen receptor T cells have advanced the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In contrast, long-term control of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cannot be achieved by single lineage-specific targeting while sparing benign hematopoiesis. In addition, heterogeneity of AML warrants combinatorial targeting, and several suitable immunotargets (HAVCR2/CD33 and HAVCR2/CLEC12A) have been identified in adult AML. However, clinical and biologic characteristics of AML differ between children and the elderly. Here, we analyzed 36 bone marrow (BM) samples of pediatric AML patients and 13 age-matched healthy donors using whole RNA sequencing of sorted CD45dim and CD34+CD38-CD45dim BM populations and flow cytometry for surface expression of putative target antigens. Pediatric AML clusters apart from healthy myeloid BM precursors in principal-component analysis. Known immunotargets of adult AML, such as IL3RA, were not overexpressed in pediatric AML compared with healthy precursors by RNA sequencing. CD33 and CLEC12A were the most upregulated immunotargets on the RNA level and showed the highest surface expression on AML detected by flow cytometry. KMT2A-mutated infant AML clusters separately by RNA sequencing and overexpresses FLT3, and hence, CD33/FLT3 cotargeting is an additional specific option for this subgroup. CLEC12A and CD33/CLEC12Adouble-positive expression was absent in CD34+CD38-CD45RA-CD90+ hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and nonhematopoietic tissue, while CD33 and FLT3 are expressed on HSCs. In summary, we show that expression of immunotargets in pediatric AML differs from known expression profiles in adult AML. We identify CLEC12A and CD33 as preferential generic combinatorial immunotargets in pediatric AML and CD33 and FLT3 as immunotargets specific for KMT2A-mutated infant AML.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Leukemic*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Infant
  • Lectins, C-Type / genetics*
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / immunology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / therapy
  • Male
  • Receptors, Mitogen / genetics*
  • Receptors, Mitogen / immunology
  • Sialic Acid Binding Ig-like Lectin 3 / genetics*
  • Sialic Acid Binding Ig-like Lectin 3 / immunology
  • Transcriptome
  • Up-Regulation


  • CD33 protein, human
  • CLEC12A protein, human
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Receptors, Mitogen
  • Sialic Acid Binding Ig-like Lectin 3