Bio

Bio


Dr. Corces is an instructor at Stanford University in the department of Pathology. He graduated from Princeton University in 2008 with a degree in molecular biology. He began his PhD in cancer biology at Stanford University in 2009, focusing on the genomic evolution of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) under the mentorship of Dr. Ravindra Majeti. His doctoral work led to the identification of pre-leukemic hematopoietic stem cells, which serve as the reservoir for mutation acquisition in AML. He and others have demonstrated that these pre-leukemic hematopoietic stem cells are the evolutionary ancestors to AML, they persists during remission, and may represent a novel avenue for the development of relapsed disease. Dr. Corces has continued his research at Stanford as a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Howard Chang and Dr. Thomas Montine. His current research focuses on the role of the epigenome in human health and disease with a focus on cancer and neurodegenerative disease.

Academic Appointments


  • Instructor, Pathology

Professional Education


  • PhD, Stanford University, Cancer Biology (2015)
  • BA, Princeton University, Molecular Biology (2008)

Publications

All Publications


  • The chromatin accessibility landscape of primary human cancers. Science (New York, N.Y.) Corces, M. R., Granja, J. M., Shams, S., Louie, B. H., Seoane, J. A., Zhou, W., Silva, T. C., Groeneveld, C., Wong, C. K., Cho, S. W., Satpathy, A. T., Mumbach, M. R., Hoadley, K. A., Robertson, A. G., Sheffield, N. C., Felau, I., Castro, M. A., Berman, B. P., Staudt, L. M., Zenklusen, J. C., Laird, P. W., Curtis, C., Greenleaf, W. J., Chang, H. Y. 2018; 362 (6413)

    Abstract

    We present the genome-wide chromatin accessibility profiles of 410 tumor samples spanning 23 cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We identify 562,709 transposase-accessible DNA elements that substantially extend the compendium of known cis-regulatory elements. Integration of ATAC-seq (the assay for transposase-accessible chromatin using sequencing) with TCGA multi-omic data identifies a large number of putative distal enhancers that distinguish molecular subtypes of cancers, uncovers specific driving transcription factors via protein-DNA footprints, and nominates long-range gene-regulatory interactions in cancer. These data reveal genetic risk loci of cancer predisposition as active DNA regulatory elements in cancer, identify gene-regulatory interactions underlying cancer immune evasion, and pinpoint noncoding mutations that drive enhancer activation and may affect patient survival. These results suggest a systematic approach to understanding the noncoding genome in cancer to advance diagnosis and therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.aav1898

    View details for PubMedID 30361341

  • HiChIRP reveals RNA-associated chromosome conformation. Nature methods Mumbach, M. R., Granja, J. M., Flynn, R. A., Roake, C. M., Satpathy, A. T., Rubin, A. J., Qi, Y., Jiang, Z., Shams, S., Louie, B. H., Guo, J. K., Gennert, D. G., Corces, M. R., Khavari, P. A., Atianand, M. K., Artandi, S. E., Fitzgerald, K. A., Greenleaf, W. J., Chang, H. Y. 2019

    Abstract

    Modular domains of long non-coding RNAs can serve as scaffolds to bring distant regions of the linear genome into spatial proximity. Here, we present HiChIRP, a method leveraging bio-orthogonal chemistry and optimized chromosome conformation capture conditions, which enables interrogation of chromatin architecture focused around a specific RNA of interest down to approximately ten copies per cell. HiChIRP of three nuclear RNAs reveals insights into promoter interactions (7SK), telomere biology (telomerase RNA component) and inflammatory gene regulation (lincRNA-EPS).

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41592-019-0407-x

    View details for PubMedID 31133759

  • Single-cell lineage tracing by endogenous mutations enriched in transposase accessible mitochondrial DNA. eLife Xu, J., Nuno, K., Litzenburger, U. M., Qi, Y., Corces, M. R., Majeti, R., Chang, H. Y. 2019; 8

    Abstract

    Simultaneous measurement of cell lineage and cell fates is a longstanding goal in biomedicine. Here we describe EMBLEM, a strategy to track cell lineage using endogenous mitochondrial DNA variants in ATAC-seq data. We show that somatic mutations in mitochondrial DNA can reconstruct cell lineage relationships at single cell resolution with high sensitivity and specificity. Using EMBLEM, we define the genetic and epigenomic clonal evolution of hematopoietic stem cells and their progenies in patients with acute myeloid leukemia. EMBLEM extends lineage tracing to any eukaryotic organism without genetic engineering.

    View details for PubMedID 30958261

  • Massively parallel single-cell chromatin landscapes of human immune cell development and intratumoral T cell exhaustion. Nature biotechnology Satpathy, A. T., Granja, J. M., Yost, K. E., Qi, Y., Meschi, F., McDermott, G. P., Olsen, B. N., Mumbach, M. R., Pierce, S. E., Corces, M. R., Shah, P., Bell, J. C., Jhutty, D., Nemec, C. M., Wang, J., Wang, L., Yin, Y., Giresi, P. G., Chang, A. L., Zheng, G. X., Greenleaf, W. J., Chang, H. Y. 2019; 37 (8): 925–36

    Abstract

    Understanding complex tissues requires single-cell deconstruction of gene regulation with precision and scale. Here, we assess the performance of a massively parallel droplet-based method for mapping transposase-accessible chromatin in single cells using sequencing (scATAC-seq). We apply scATAC-seq to obtain chromatin profiles of more than 200,000 single cells in human blood and basal cell carcinoma. In blood, application of scATAC-seq enables marker-free identification of cell type-specific cis- and trans-regulatory elements, mapping of disease-associated enhancer activity and reconstruction of trajectories of cellular differentiation. In basal cell carcinoma, application of scATAC-seq reveals regulatory networks in malignant, stromal and immune cells in the tumor microenvironment. Analysis of scATAC-seq profiles from serial tumor biopsies before and after programmed cell death protein 1 blockade identifies chromatin regulators of therapy-responsive T cell subsets and reveals a shared regulatory program that governs intratumoral CD8+ T cell exhaustion and CD4+ T follicular helper cell development. We anticipate that scATAC-seq will enable the unbiased discovery of gene regulatory factors across diverse biological systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41587-019-0206-z

    View details for PubMedID 31375813

  • Integrated Single-Cell Analysis Maps the Continuous Regulatory Landscape of Human Hematopoietic Differentiation CELL Buenrostro, J. D., Corces, M., Lareau, C. A., Wu, B., Schep, A. N., Aryee, M. J., Majeti, R., Chang, H. Y., Greenleaf, W. J. 2018; 173 (6): 1535-+

    Abstract

    Human hematopoiesis involves cellular differentiation of multipotent cells into progressively more lineage-restricted states. While the chromatin accessibility landscape of this process has been explored in defined populations, single-cell regulatory variation has been hidden by ensemble averaging. We collected single-cell chromatin accessibility profiles across 10 populations of immunophenotypically defined human hematopoietic cell types and constructed a chromatin accessibility landscape of human hematopoiesis to characterize differentiation trajectories. We find variation consistent with lineage bias toward different developmental branches in multipotent cell types. We observe heterogeneity within common myeloid progenitors (CMPs) and granulocyte-macrophage progenitors (GMPs) and develop a strategy to partition GMPs along their differentiation trajectory. Furthermore, we integrated single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) data to associate transcription factors to chromatin accessibility changes and regulatory elements to target genes through correlations of expression and regulatory element accessibility. Overall, this work provides a framework for integrative exploration of complex regulatory dynamics in a primary human tissue at single-cell resolution.

    View details for PubMedID 29706549

  • Transcript-indexed ATAC-seq for precision immune profiling. Nature medicine Satpathy, A. T., Saligrama, N., Buenrostro, J. D., Wei, Y., Wu, B., Rubin, A. J., Granja, J. M., Lareau, C. A., Li, R., Qi, Y., Parker, K. R., Mumbach, M. R., Serratelli, W. S., Gennert, D. G., Schep, A. N., Corces, M. R., Khodadoust, M. S., Kim, Y. H., Khavari, P. A., Greenleaf, W. J., Davis, M. M., Chang, H. Y. 2018

    Abstract

    T cells create vast amounts of diversity in the genes that encode their T cell receptors (TCRs), which enables individual clones to recognize specific peptide-major histocompatibility complex (MHC) ligands. Here we combined sequencing of the TCR-encoding genes with assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with sequencing (ATAC-seq) analysis at the single-cell level to provide information on the TCR specificity and epigenomic state of individual T cells. By using this approach, termed transcript-indexed ATAC-seq (T-ATAC-seq), we identified epigenomic signatures in immortalized leukemic T cells, primary human T cells from healthy volunteers and primary leukemic T cells from patient samples. In peripheral blood CD4+ T cells from healthy individuals, we identified cis and trans regulators of naive and memory T cell states and found substantial heterogeneity in surface-marker-defined T cell populations. In patients with a leukemic form of cutaneous T cell lymphoma, T-ATAC-seq enabled identification of leukemic and nonleukemic regulatory pathways in T cells from the same individual by allowing separation of the signals that arose from the malignant clone from the background T cell noise. Thus, T-ATAC-seq is a new tool that enables analysis of epigenomic landscapes in clonal T cells and should be valuable for studies of T cell malignancy, immunity and immunotherapy.

    View details for PubMedID 29686426

  • Preleukemic Hematopoietic Stem Cells in Human Acute Myeloid Leukemia FRONTIERS IN ONCOLOGY Corces, M., Chang, H. Y., Majeti, R. 2017; 7: 263

    Abstract

    Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is an aggressive malignancy of the bone marrow characterized by an uncontrolled proliferation of undifferentiated myeloid lineage cells. Decades of research have demonstrated that AML evolves from the sequential acquisition of genetic alterations within a single lineage of hematopoietic cells. More recently, the advent of high-throughput sequencing has enabled the identification of a premalignant phase of AML termed preleukemia. Multiple studies have demonstrated that AML can arise from the accumulation of mutations within hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These HSCs have been termed "preleukemic HSCs" as they represent the evolutionary ancestors of the leukemia. Through examination of the biological and clinical characteristics of these preleukemic HSCs, this review aims to shed light on some of the unexplored questions in the field. We note that some of the material discussed is speculative in nature and is presented in order to motivate future work.

    View details for PubMedID 29164062

  • Rapid Chromatin Switch in the Direct Reprogramming of Fibroblasts to Neurons CELL REPORTS Wapinski, O. L., Lee, Q., Chen, A. C., Li, R., Corces, M., Ang, C., Treutlein, B., Xiang, C., Baubet, V., Suchy, F., Sankar, V., Sim, S., Quake, S. R., Dahmane, N., Wernig, M., Chang, H. Y. 2017; 20 (13): 3236–47

    Abstract

    How transcription factors (TFs) reprogram one cell lineage to another remains unclear. Here, we define chromatin accessibility changes induced by the proneural TF Ascl1 throughout conversion of fibroblasts into induced neuronal (iN) cells. Thousands of genomic loci are affected as early as 12 hr after Ascl1 induction. Surprisingly, over 80% of the accessibility changes occur between days 2 and 5 of the 3-week reprogramming process. This chromatin switch coincides with robust activation of endogenous neuronal TFs and nucleosome phasing of neuronal promoters and enhancers. Subsequent morphological and functional maturation of iN cells is accomplished with relatively little chromatin reconfiguration. By integrating chromatin accessibility and transcriptome changes, we built a network model of dynamic TF regulation during iN cell reprogramming and identified Zfp238, Sox8, and Dlx3 as key TFs downstream of Ascl1. These results reveal a singular, coordinated epigenomic switch during direct reprogramming, in contrast to stepwise cell fate transitions in development.

    View details for PubMedID 28954238

  • Human AML-iPSCs Reacquire Leukemic Properties after Differentiation and Model Clonal Variation of Disease. Cell stem cell Chao, M. P., Gentles, A. J., Chatterjee, S., Lan, F., Reinisch, A., Corces, M. R., Xavy, S., Shen, J., Haag, D., Chanda, S., Sinha, R., Morganti, R. M., Nishimura, T., Ameen, M., Wu, H., Wernig, M., Wu, J. C., Majeti, R. 2017; 20 (3): 329-344 e7

    Abstract

    Understanding the relative contributions of genetic and epigenetic abnormalities to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) should assist integrated design of targeted therapies. In this study, we generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from AML patient samples harboring MLL rearrangements and found that they retained leukemic mutations but reset leukemic DNA methylation/gene expression patterns. AML-iPSCs lacked leukemic potential, but when differentiated into hematopoietic cells, they reacquired the ability to give rise to leukemia in vivo and reestablished leukemic DNA methylation/gene expression patterns, including an aberrant MLL signature. Epigenetic reprogramming was therefore not sufficient to eliminate leukemic behavior. This approach also allowed us to study the properties of distinct AML subclones, including differential drug susceptibilities of KRAS mutant and wild-type cells, and predict relapse based on increased cytarabine resistance of a KRAS wild-type subclone. Overall, our findings illustrate the value of AML-iPSCs for investigating the mechanistic basis and clonal properties of human AML.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2016.11.018

    View details for PubMedID 28089908

  • Super-Enhancer Analysis Defines Novel Epigenomic Subtypes of Non-APL AML Including an RARα Dependency Targetable by SY-1425, a Potent and Selective RARα Agonist. Cancer discovery McKeown, M. R., Corces, M. R., Eaton, M. L., Fiore, C., Lee, E., Lopez, J. T., Chen, M. W., Smith, D., Chan, S. M., Koenig, J. L., Austgen, K., Guenther, M. G., Orlando, D. A., Lovén, J., Fritz, C. C., Majeti, R. 2017

    Abstract

    We characterized the enhancer landscape of 66 AML patients, identifying 6 novel subgroups and their associated regulatory loci. These subgroups are defined by their super-enhancer (SE) maps, orthogonal to somatic mutations, and are associated with distinct leukemic cell states. Examination of transcriptional drivers for these epigenomic subtypes uncovers a subset of patients with a particularly strong super-enhancer at the retinoic acid receptor alpha (RARA) gene locus. Presence of a RARA SE and concomitant high levels of RARA mRNA predisposes cell lines and ex vivo models to exquisite sensitivity to a selective agonist of RARα, SY-1425 (tamibarotene). Furthermore, only AML patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models with high RARA mRNA were found to respond to SY-1425. Mechanistically, we show that the response to SY-1425 in RARA-high AML cells is similar to that of APL treated with retinoids, characterized by the induction of known retinoic acid response genes, increased differentiation, and loss of proliferation.

    View details for PubMedID 28729405

  • Enhancer connectome in primary human cells identifies target genes of disease-associated DNA elements. Nature genetics Mumbach, M. R., Satpathy, A. T., Boyle, E. A., Dai, C., Gowen, B. G., Cho, S. W., Nguyen, M. L., Rubin, A. J., Granja, J. M., Kazane, K. R., Wei, Y., Nguyen, T., Greenside, P. G., Corces, M. R., Tycko, J., Simeonov, D. R., Suliman, N., Li, R., Xu, J., Flynn, R. A., Kundaje, A., Khavari, P. A., Marson, A., Corn, J. E., Quertermous, T., Greenleaf, W. J., Chang, H. Y. 2017

    Abstract

    The challenge of linking intergenic mutations to target genes has limited molecular understanding of human diseases. Here we show that H3K27ac HiChIP generates high-resolution contact maps of active enhancers and target genes in rare primary human T cell subtypes and coronary artery smooth muscle cells. Differentiation of naive T cells into T helper 17 cells or regulatory T cells creates subtype-specific enhancer-promoter interactions, specifically at regions of shared DNA accessibility. These data provide a principled means of assigning molecular functions to autoimmune and cardiovascular disease risk variants, linking hundreds of noncoding variants to putative gene targets. Target genes identified with HiChIP are further supported by CRISPR interference and activation at linked enhancers, by the presence of expression quantitative trait loci, and by allele-specific enhancer loops in patient-derived primary cells. The majority of disease-associated enhancers contact genes beyond the nearest gene in the linear genome, leading to a fourfold increase in the number of potential target genes for autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases.

    View details for PubMedID 28945252

  • An improved ATAC-seq protocol reduces background and enables interrogation of frozen tissues. Nature methods Corces, M. R., Trevino, A. E., Hamilton, E. G., Greenside, P. G., Sinnott-Armstrong, N. A., Vesuna, S., Satpathy, A. T., Rubin, A. J., Montine, K. S., Wu, B., Kathiria, A., Cho, S. W., Mumbach, M. R., Carter, A. C., Kasowski, M., Orloff, L. A., Risca, V. I., Kundaje, A., Khavari, P. A., Montine, T. J., Greenleaf, W. J., Chang, H. Y. 2017

    Abstract

    We present Omni-ATAC, an improved ATAC-seq protocol for chromatin accessibility profiling that works across multiple applications with substantial improvement of signal-to-background ratio and information content. The Omni-ATAC protocol generates chromatin accessibility profiles from archival frozen tissue samples and 50-μm sections, revealing the activities of disease-associated DNA elements in distinct human brain structures. The Omni-ATAC protocol enables the interrogation of personal regulomes in tissue context and translational studies.

    View details for PubMedID 28846090

  • Lineage-specific and single-cell chromatin accessibility charts human hematopoiesis and leukemia evolution. Nature genetics Corces, M. R., Buenrostro, J. D., Wu, B., Greenside, P. G., Chan, S. M., Koenig, J. L., Snyder, M. P., Pritchard, J. K., Kundaje, A., Greenleaf, W. J., Majeti, R., Chang, H. Y. 2016; 48 (10): 1193-1203

    Abstract

    We define the chromatin accessibility and transcriptional landscapes in 13 human primary blood cell types that span the hematopoietic hierarchy. Exploiting the finding that the enhancer landscape better reflects cell identity than mRNA levels, we enable 'enhancer cytometry' for enumeration of pure cell types from complex populations. We identify regulators governing hematopoietic differentiation and further show the lineage ontogeny of genetic elements linked to diverse human diseases. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chromatin accessibility uncovers unique regulatory evolution in cancer cells with a progressively increasing mutation burden. Single AML cells exhibit distinctive mixed regulome profiles corresponding to disparate developmental stages. A method to account for this regulatory heterogeneity identified cancer-specific deviations and implicated HOX factors as key regulators of preleukemic hematopoietic stem cell characteristics. Thus, regulome dynamics can provide diverse insights into hematopoietic development and disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ng.3646

    View details for PubMedID 27526324

  • A humanized bone marrow ossicle xenotransplantation model enables improved engraftment of healthy and leukemic human hematopoietic cells NATURE MEDICINE Reinisch, A., Thomas, D., Corces, M. R., Zhang, X., Gratzinger, D., Hong, W., Schallmoser, K., Strunk, D., Majeti, R. 2016; 22 (7): 812-821

    Abstract

    Xenotransplantation models represent powerful tools for the investigation of healthy and malignant human hematopoiesis. However, current models do not fully mimic the components of the human bone marrow (BM) microenvironment, and they enable only limited engraftment of samples from some human malignancies. Here we show that a xenotransplantation model bearing subcutaneous humanized ossicles with an accessible BM microenvironment, formed by in situ differentiation of human BM-derived mesenchymal stromal cells, enables the robust engraftment of healthy human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, as well as primary acute myeloid leukemia (AML) samples, at levels much greater than those in unmanipulated mice. Direct intraossicle transplantation accelerated engraftment and resulted in the detection of substantially higher leukemia-initiating cell (LIC) frequencies. We also observed robust engraftment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) and myelofibrosis (MF) samples, and identified LICs in these malignancies. This humanized ossicle xenotransplantation approach provides a system for modeling a wide variety of human hematological diseases.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.4103

    View details for PubMedID 27213817

  • The three-dimensional cancer genome CURRENT OPINION IN GENETICS & DEVELOPMENT Corces, M. R., Corces, V. G. 2016; 36: 1-7

    Abstract

    The past decade of cancer research has ushered in a comprehensive understanding of the way that the sequence of the genome can be co-opted during the process of tumorigenesis. However, only recently has the epigenome, and in particular the three-dimensional topology of chromatin, been implicated in cancer progression. Here we review recent findings of how the cancer genome is regulated and dysregulated to effect changes in 3D genome topology. We discuss the impact of the spatial organization of the genome on the frequency of tumorigenic chromosomal translocations and the effects of disruption of the proteins responsible for the establishment of chromatin loops. Alteration of the three-dimensional cancer genome is a rapidly emerging hallmark of multiple cancer subtypes.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.gde.2016.01.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000376288100002

    View details for PubMedID 26855137

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4880523

  • Leukemia-Associated Cohesin Mutants Dominantly Enforce Stem Cell Programs and Impair Human Hematopoietic Progenitor Differentiation. Cell stem cell Mazumdar, C., Shen, Y., Xavy, S., Zhao, F., Reinisch, A., Li, R., Corces, M. R., Flynn, R. A., Buenrostro, J. D., Chan, S. M., Thomas, D., Koenig, J. L., Hong, W., Chang, H. Y., Majeti, R. 2015; 17 (6): 675-688

    Abstract

    Recurrent mutations in cohesin complex proteins have been identified in pre-leukemic hematopoietic stem cells and during the early development of acute myeloid leukemia and other myeloid malignancies. Although cohesins are involved in chromosome separation and DNA damage repair, cohesin complex functions during hematopoiesis and leukemic development are unclear. Here, we show that mutant cohesin proteins block differentiation of human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) in vitro and in vivo and enforce stem cell programs. These effects are restricted to immature HSPC populations, where cohesin mutants show increased chromatin accessibility and likelihood of transcription factor binding site occupancy by HSPC regulators including ERG, GATA2, and RUNX1, as measured by ATAC-seq and ChIP-seq. Epistasis experiments show that silencing these transcription factors rescues the differentiation block caused by cohesin mutants. Together, these results show that mutant cohesins impair HSPC differentiation by controlling chromatin accessibility and transcription factor activity, possibly contributing to leukemic disease.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2015.09.017

    View details for PubMedID 26607380

  • Isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 and 2 mutations induce BCL-2 dependence in acute myeloid leukemia. Nature medicine Chan, S. M., Thomas, D., Corces-Zimmerman, M. R., Xavy, S., Rastogi, S., Hong, W., Zhao, F., Medeiros, B. C., Tyvoll, D. A., Majeti, R. 2015; 21 (2): 178-184

    Abstract

    Mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) 1 and 2 proteins alter the epigenetic landscape in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells through production of the oncometabolite (R)-2-hydroxyglutarate (2-HG). Here we performed a large-scale RNA interference (RNAi) screen to identify genes that are synthetic lethal to the IDH1(R132H) mutation in AML and identified the anti-apoptotic gene BCL-2. IDH1- and IDH2-mutant primary human AML cells were more sensitive than IDH1/2 wild-type cells to ABT-199, a highly specific BCL-2 inhibitor that is currently in clinical trials for hematologic malignancies, both ex vivo and in xenotransplant models. This sensitization effect was induced by (R)-2-HG-mediated inhibition of the activity of cytochrome c oxidase (COX) in the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC); suppression of COX activity lowered the mitochondrial threshold to trigger apoptosis upon BCL-2 inhibition. Our findings indicate that IDH1/2 mutation status may identify patients that are likely to respond to pharmacologic BCL-2 inhibition and form the rational basis for combining agents that disrupt ETC activity with ABT-199 in future clinical studies.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.3788

    View details for PubMedID 25599133

  • Mutant WT1 is associated with DNA hypermethylation of PRC2 targets in AML and responds to EZH2 inhibition. Blood Sinha, S., Thomas, D., Yu, L., Gentles, A. J., Jung, N., Corces-Zimmerman, M. R., Chan, S. M., Reinisch, A., Feinberg, A. P., Dill, D. L., Majeti, R. 2015; 125 (2): 316-326

    Abstract

    Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is associated with deregulation of DNA methylation; however, many cases do not bear mutations in known regulators of CpG methylation. We found that mutations in WT1, IDH2, and CEBPA were strongly linked to DNA hypermethylation in AML using a novel integrative analysis of TCGA data based on Boolean implications, if-then rules that identify all individual CpG sites that are hypermethylated in the presence of a mutation. Introduction of mutant WT1 (WT1mut) into wildtype AML cells induced DNA hypermethylation, confirming mutant WT1 to be causally associated with DNA hypermethylation. Methylated genes in WT1mut primary patient samples were highly enriched for polycomb repressor complex 2 (PRC2) targets, implicating PRC2 dysregulation in WT1mut leukemogenesis. We found that PRC2 target genes were aberrantly repressed in WT1mut AML, and that expression of mutant WT1 in CD34+ cord blood cells induced myeloid differentiation block. Treatment of WT1mut AML cells with shRNA or pharmacologic PRC2/EZH2 inhibitors promoted myeloid differentiation, suggesting EZH2 inhibitors may be active in this AML subtype. Our results highlight a strong association between mutant WT1 and DNA hypermethylation in AML, and demonstrate that Boolean implications can be used to decipher mutation-specific methylation patterns that may lead to therapeutic insights.

    View details for DOI 10.1182/blood-2014-03-566018

    View details for PubMedID 25398938

  • Pre-leukemic evolution of hematopoietic stem cells: the importance of early mutations in leukemogenesis LEUKEMIA Corces-Zimmerman, M. R., Majeti, R. 2014; 28 (12): 2276-2282

    Abstract

    Cancer has been shown to result from the sequential acquisition of genetic alterations in a single lineage of cells. In leukemia, increasing evidence has supported the idea that this accumulation of mutations occurs in self-renewing hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These HSCs containing some, but not all, leukemia-specific mutations have been termed as pre-leukemic. Multiple recent studies have sought to understand these pre-leukemic HSCs and determine to what extent they contribute to leukemogenesis. These studies have elucidated patterns in mutation acquisition in leukemia, demonstrated resistance of pre-leukemic cells to standard induction chemotherapy and identified these pre-leukemic cells as a putative reservoir for the generation of relapsed disease. When combined with decades of research on clonal evolution in leukemia, mouse models of leukemogenesis, and recent massively parallel sequencing-based studies of primary patient leukemia, studies of pre-leukemic HSCs begin to piece together the evolutionary puzzle of leukemogenesis. These results have broad implications for leukemia treatment, targeted therapies, minimal residual disease monitoring and early detection screening.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/leu.2014.211

    View details for Web of Science ID 000346177500002

    View details for PubMedID 25005245

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4262622

  • Preleukemic mutations in human acute myeloid leukemia affect epigenetic regulators and persist in remission. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Corces-Zimmerman, M. R., Hong, W., Weissman, I. L., Medeiros, B. C., Majeti, R. 2014; 111 (7): 2548-2553

    Abstract

    Cancer is widely characterized by the sequential acquisition of genetic lesions in a single lineage of cells. Our previous studies have shown that, in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), mutation acquisition occurs in functionally normal hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). These preleukemic HSCs harbor some, but not all, of the mutations found in the leukemic cells. We report here the identification of patterns of mutation acquisition in human AML. Our findings support a model in which mutations in "landscaping" genes, involved in global chromatin changes such as DNA methylation, histone modification, and chromatin looping, occur early in the evolution of AML, whereas mutations in "proliferative" genes occur late. Additionally, we analyze the persistence of preleukemic mutations in patients in remission and find CD34+ progenitor cells and various mature cells that harbor preleukemic mutations. These findings indicate that preleukemic HSCs can survive induction chemotherapy, identifying these cells as a reservoir for the reevolution of relapsed disease. Finally, through the study of several cases of relapsed AML, we demonstrate various evolutionary patterns for the generation of relapsed disease and show that some of these patterns are consistent with involvement of preleukemic HSCs. These findings provide key insights into the monitoring of minimal residual disease and the identification of therapeutic targets in human AML.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1324297111

    View details for PubMedID 24550281

  • Clonal Evolution of Preleukemic Hematopoietic Stem Cells Precedes Human Acute Myeloid Leukemia SCIENCE TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE Jan, M., Snyder, T. M., Corces-Zimmerman, M. R., Vyas, P., Weissman, I. L., Quake, S. R., Majeti, R. 2012; 4 (149)

    Abstract

    Given that most bone marrow cells are short-lived, the accumulation of multiple leukemogenic mutations in a single clonal lineage has been difficult to explain. We propose that serial acquisition of mutations occurs in self-renewing hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). We investigated this model through genomic analysis of HSCs from six patients with de novo acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Using exome sequencing, we identified mutations present in individual AML patients harboring the FLT3-ITD (internal tandem duplication) mutation. We then screened the residual HSCs and detected some of these mutations including mutations in the NPM1, TET2, and SMC1A genes. Finally, through single-cell analysis, we determined that a clonal progression of multiple mutations occurred in the HSCs of some AML patients. These preleukemic HSCs suggest the clonal evolution of AML genomes from founder mutations, revealing a potential mechanism contributing to relapse. Such preleukemic HSCs may constitute a cellular reservoir that should be targeted therapeutically for more durable remissions.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/scitranslmed.3004315

    View details for Web of Science ID 000308491600005

    View details for PubMedID 22932223

  • A long noncoding RNA maintains active chromatin to coordinate homeotic gene expression NATURE Wang, K. C., Yang, Y. W., Liu, B., Sanyal, A., Corces-Zimmerman, R., Chen, Y., Lajoie, B. R., Protacio, A., Flynn, R. A., Gupta, R. A., Wysocka, J., Lei, M., Dekker, J., Helms, J. A., Chang, H. Y. 2011; 472 (7341): 120-U158

    Abstract

    The genome is extensively transcribed into long intergenic noncoding RNAs (lincRNAs), many of which are implicated in gene silencing. Potential roles of lincRNAs in gene activation are much less understood. Development and homeostasis require coordinate regulation of neighbouring genes through a process termed locus control. Some locus control elements and enhancers transcribe lincRNAs, hinting at possible roles in long-range control. In vertebrates, 39 Hox genes, encoding homeodomain transcription factors critical for positional identity, are clustered in four chromosomal loci; the Hox genes are expressed in nested anterior-posterior and proximal-distal patterns colinear with their genomic position from 3' to 5'of the cluster. Here we identify HOTTIP, a lincRNA transcribed from the 5' tip of the HOXA locus that coordinates the activation of several 5' HOXA genes in vivo. Chromosomal looping brings HOTTIP into close proximity to its target genes. HOTTIP RNA binds the adaptor protein WDR5 directly and targets WDR5/MLL complexes across HOXA, driving histone H3 lysine 4 trimethylation and gene transcription. Induced proximity is necessary and sufficient for HOTTIP RNA activation of its target genes. Thus, by serving as key intermediates that transmit information from higher order chromosomal looping into chromatin modifications, lincRNAs may organize chromatin domains to coordinate long-range gene activation.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature09819

    View details for PubMedID 21423168