PON2 subverts metabolic gatekeeper functions in B cells to promote leukemogenesis

Academic Article


  • Unlike other cell types, developing B cells undergo multiple rounds of somatic recombination and hypermutation to evolve high-affinity antibodies. Reflecting the high frequency of DNA double-strand breaks, adaptive immune protection by B cells comes with an increased risk of malignant transformation. B lymphoid transcription factors (e.g., IKZF1 and PAX5) serve as metabolic gatekeepers by limiting glucose to levels insufficient to fuel transformation. We here identified aberrant expression of the lactonase PON2 in B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) as a mechanism to bypass metabolic gatekeeper functions. Compared to normal pre-B cells, PON2 expression was elevated in patient-derived B-ALL samples and correlated with poor clinical outcomes in pediatric and adult cohorts. Genetic deletion of Pon2 had no measurable impact on normal B cell development. However, in mouse models for BCRABL1 and NRASG12D-driven B-ALL, deletion of Pon2 compromised proliferation, colony formation, and leukemia initiation in transplant recipient mice. Compromised leukemogenesis resulted from defective glucose uptake and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production in PON2-deficient murine and human B-ALL cells. Mechanistically, PON2 enabled glucose uptake by releasing the glucose-transporter GLUT1 from its inhibitor stomatin (STOM) and genetic deletion of STOM largely rescued PON2 deficiency. While not required for glucose transport, the PON2 lactonase moiety hydrolyzes the lactone-prodrug 3OC12 to form a cytotoxic intermediate. Mirroring PON2 expression levels in B-ALL, 3OC12 selectively killed patient-derived B-ALL cells but was well tolerated in transplant recipient mice. Hence, while B-ALL cells critically depend on aberrant PON2 expression to evade metabolic gatekeeper functions, PON2 lactonase activity can be leveraged as synthetic lethality to overcome drug resistance in refractory B-ALL.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pan L; Hong C; Chan LN; Xiao G; Malvi P; Robinson ME; Geng H; Reddy ST; Lee J; Khairnar V
  • Volume

  • 118
  • Issue

  • 7