Epigenetically aberrant stroma in MDS propagates disease via Wnt/β-catenin activation

Tushar D. Bhagat, Si Chen, Matthias Bartenstein, A. Trevor Barlowe, Dagny Von Ahrens, Gaurav S. Choudhary, Patrick Tivnan, Elianna Amin, A. Mario Marcondes, Mathijs A. Sanders, Remco M. Hoogenboezem, Suman Kambhampati, Nandini Ramachandra, Iaonnis Mantzaris, Vineeth Sukrithan, Remi Laurence, Robert Lopez, Prafullla Bhagat, Orsolya Giricz, Davendra SohalAmittha Wickrema, Cecilia Yeung, Kira Gritsman, Peter Aplan, Konrad Hochedlinger, Yiting Yu, Kith Pradhan, Jinghang Zhang, John M. Greally, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Andrea Pellagatti, Jacqueline Boultwood, Britta Will, Ulrich Steidl, Marc H.G.P. Raaijmakers, H. Joachim Deeg, Michael G. Kharas, Amit Verma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The bone marrow microenvironment influences malignant hematopoiesis, but how it promotes leukemogenesis has not been elucidated. In addition, the role of the bone marrow stroma in regulating clinical responses to DNA methyltransferase inhibitors (DNMTi) is also poorly understood. In this study, we conducted a DNA methylome analysis of bone marrow–derived stromal cells from myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) patients and observed widespread aberrant cytosine hypermethylation occurring preferentially outside CpG islands. Stroma derived from 5-azacytidine–treated patients lacked aberrant methylation and DNMTi treatment of primary MDS stroma enhanced its ability to support erythroid differentiation. An integrative expression analysis revealed that the WNT pathway antagonist FRZB was aberrantly hypermethylated and underexpressed in MDS stroma. This result was confirmed in an independent set of sorted, primary MDS-derived mesenchymal cells. We documented a WNT/b-catenin activation signature in CD34þ cells from advanced cases of MDS, where it associated with adverse prognosis. Constitutive activation of b-catenin in hematopoietic cells yielded lethal myeloid disease in a NUP98–HOXD13 mouse model of MDS, confirming its role in disease progression. Our results define novel epigenetic changes in the bone marrow microenvironment, which lead to b-catenin activation and disease progression of MDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4846-4857
Number of pages12
JournalCancer research
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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