Selection of latest publications

Read the newest papers from the first half of 2024

Enjoy the following reads that got you covered on tumor microenvironment in CLL, cell death mechanisms in inflammatory pathologies and response to BTK inhibitors in MCD DLBCL. The below selection includes reviews and papers from CRC 1530 members as first or last authors. 


Publications are listed according to the most recent publication date. 


Hendrik Jestrabek, Viktoria Kohlhas, Michael Hallek, Phuong-Hien Nguyen. Impact of leukemia-associated macrophages on the progression and therapy response of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Leukemia Research, Volume 143, 2024, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leukres.2024.107531.

Abstract: The treatment landscape of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has advanced remarkably over the past decade. The advent and approval of the BTK inhibitor ibrutinib and BCL-2 inhibitor venetoclax, as well as monoclonal anti-CD20 antibodies rituximab and obinutuzumab, have resulted in deep remissions and substantially improved survival outcomes for patients. However, CLL remains a complex disease with many patients still experiencing relapse and unsatisfactory treatment responses. CLL cells are highly dependent on their pro-leukemic tumor microenvironment (TME), which comprises different cellular and soluble factors. A large body of evidence suggests that CLL-associated macrophages shaped by leukemic cells play a pivotal role in maintaining CLL cell survival. In this review, we summarize the pro-survival interactions between CLL cells and macrophages, as well as the impact of the current first-line treatment agents, including ibrutinib, venetoclax, and CD20 antibodies on leukemia-associated macrophages.



Konstantinos Kelepouras, Julia Saggau, (...) Alessandro Annibaldi, Henning Walczak & Gianmaria Liccardi. The importance of murine phospho-MLKL-S345 in situ detection for necroptosis assessment in vivo. Cell Death Differ (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41418-024-01313-6.


Abstract: Necroptosis is a caspase-independent modality of cell death implicated in many inflammatory pathologies. The execution of this pathway requires the formation of a cytosolic platform that comprises RIPK1 and RIPK3 which, in turn, mediates the phosphorylation of the pseudokinase MLKL (S345 in mouse). The activation of this executioner is followed by its oligomerisation and accumulation at the plasma-membrane where it leads to cell death via plasma-membrane destabilisation and consequent permeabilisation. While the biochemical and cellular characterisation of these events have been amply investigated, the study of necroptosis involvement in vivo in animal models is currently limited to the use of Mlkl−/− or Ripk3−/− mice. Yet, even in many of the models in which the involvement of necroptosis in disease aetiology has been genetically demonstrated, the fundamental in vivo characterisation regarding the question as to which tissue(s) and specific cell type(s) therein is/are affected by the pathogenic necroptotic death are missing. Here, we describe and validate an immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence-based method to reliably detect the phosphorylation of mouse MLKL at serine 345 (pMLKL-S345). We first validate the method using tissues derived from mice in which Caspase-8 (Casp8) or FADD are specifically deleted from keratinocytes, or intestinal epithelial cells, respectively. We next demonstrate the presence of necroptotic activation in the lungs of SARS-CoV-infected mice and in the skin and spleen of mice bearing a Sharpin inactivating mutation. Finally, we exclude necroptosis occurrence in the intestines of mice subjected to TNF-induced septic shock. Importantly, by directly comparing the staining of pMLKL-345 with that of cleaved Caspase-3 staining in some of these models, we identify spatio-temporal and functional differences between necroptosis and apoptosis supporting a role of RIPK3 in inflammation independently of MLKL versus the role of RIPK3 in activation of necroptosis.



Richard I Lewis*, Alexander F vom Stein*, Michael Hallek. Targeting the tumor microenvironment for treating double refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Blood, May 2024. https://doi.org/10.1182/blood.2023022861. *equal contribution.


Abstract: The introduction of BTK inhibitors and BCL2 antagonists to the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia has revolutionized therapy and improved patient outcomes. These agents have replaced chemoimmunotherapy as standard of care. Despite this progress, a new group of patients is currently emerging, which has become refractory or intolerant to both classes of agents, creating an unmet medical need. Here, we propose that the targeted modulation of the tumor microenvironment provides new therapeutic options for this group of "double refractory" patients. Furthermore, we outline a sequential strategy for tumor microenvironment-directed combination therapies in CLL that can be tested in clinical protocols.



Fatma Isil Yapici, Christina M. Bebber, Silvia von Karstedt. A guide to ferroptosis in cancer. Mol Oncol, 18: 1378-1396 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1002/1878-0261.13649.


Abstract: Ferroptosis is a newly identified iron-dependent type of regulated cell death that can also be regarded as death caused by the specific collapse of the lipid antioxidant defence machinery. Ferroptosis has gained increasing attention as a potential therapeutic strategy for therapy-resistant cancer types. However, many ferroptosis-inducing small molecules do not reach the pharmacokinetic requirements for their effective clinical use yet. Nevertheless, their clinical optimization is under development. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of molecular pathways regulating ferroptosis, how cells protect themselves from the induction of ferroptotic cell death, and how a better understanding of cancer cell metabolism can represent vulnerabilities for ferroptosis-based therapies. Lastly, we discuss the context-dependent effect of ferroptosis on various cell types within the tumor microenvironment and address controversies on how tissue ferroptosis might impact systemic cancer immunity in a paracrine manner.



James D. Phelan, Sebastian Scheich, (...), Louis M. Staudt, Thomas Oellerich. Response to Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitors in aggressive lymphomas linked to chronic selective autophagyCancer Cell, Volume 42, Issue 2 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2023.12.019.


Abstract: Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is an aggressive, profoundly heterogeneous cancer, presenting a challenge for precision medicine. Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors block B cell receptor (BCR) signaling and are particularly effective in certain molecular subtypes of DLBCL that rely on chronic active BCR signaling to promote oncogenic NF-κB. The MCD genetic subtype, which often acquires mutations in the BCR subunit, CD79B, and in the innate immune adapter, MYD88L265P, typically resists chemotherapy but responds exceptionally to BTK inhibitors. However, the underlying mechanisms of response to BTK inhibitors are poorly understood. Herein, we find a non-canonical form of chronic selective autophagy in MCD DLBCL that targets ubiquitinated MYD88L265P for degradation in a TBK1-dependent manner. MCD tumors acquire genetic and epigenetic alterations that attenuate this autophagic tumor suppressive pathway. In contrast, BTK inhibitors promote autophagic degradation of MYD88L265P, thus explaining their exceptional clinical benefit in MCD DLBCL.



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