Patients with Down syndrome (DS), or trisomy 21 (T21), are at increased risk of transient abnormal myelopoiesis (TAM) and acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (ML-DS). Both TAM and ML-DS require prenatal somatic mutations in GATA1, resulting in the truncated isoform GATA1s. The mechanism by which individual chromosome 21 (HSA21) genes synergize with GATA1s for leukemic transformation is challenging to study, in part due to limited human cell models with wild-type GATA1 (wtGATA1) or GATA1s. HSA21-encoded DYRK1A is overexpressed in ML-DS and may be a therapeutic target. To determine how DYRK1A influences hematopoiesis in concert with GATA1s, we used gene editing to disrupt all 3 alleles of DYRK1A in isogenic T21 induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) with and without the GATA1s mutation. Unexpectedly, hematopoietic differentiation revealed that DYRK1A loss combined with GATA1s leads to increased megakaryocyte proliferation and decreased maturation. This proliferative phenotype was associated with upregulation of D-type cyclins and hyperphosphorylation of Rb to allow E2F release and derepression of its downstream targets. Notably, DYRK1A loss had no effect in T21 iPSCs or megakaryocytes with wtGATA1. These surprising results suggest that DYRK1A and GATA1 may synergistically restrain megakaryocyte proliferation in T21 and that DYRK1A inhibition may not be a therapeutic option for GATA1s-associated leukemias.
Ying Ting Sit, Kaoru Takasaki, Hyun Hyung An, Yan Xiao, Christian Hurtz, Peter A. Gearhart, Zhe Zhang, Paul Gadue, Deborah L. French, Stella T. Chou