IL-10 production by CLL cells is enhanced in the anergic IGHV mutated subset and associates with reduced DNA methylation of the IL10 locus.

Drennan S, D'Avola A, Gao Y, Weigel C, Chrysostomou E, Steele AJ, Zenz T, Plass C, Johnson PW, Williams AP, Packham G, Stevenson FK, Oakes CC, Forconi F
Leukemia 31 1686-1694 01/01/2017


Chronic lymphocytic leukemias (CLLs) with unmutated (U-CLL) or mutated (M-CLL) IGHV have variable features of immunosuppression, possibly influenced by those CLL cells activated to produce interleukin 10 (IL-10). The two subsets differ in their levels of anergy, defined by low surface immunoglobulin M levels/signaling capacity, and in their DNA methylation profile, particularly variable in M-CLL. We have now found that levels of IL-10 produced by activated CLL cells were highly variable. Levels were higher in M-CLL than in U-CLL and correlated with anergy. DNA methylation analysis of IL10 locus revealed two previously uncharacterized 'variably methylated regions' (CLL-VMRs1/2) in the gene body, but similarly low methylation in the promoter of both U-CLL and M-CLL. CLL-VMR1/2 methylation was lower in M-CLL than in U-CLL and inversely correlated with IL-10 induction. A functional signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) binding site in CLL-VMR2 was confirmed by proximity ligation and luciferase assays, whereas inhibition of SYK-mediated STAT3 activation resulted in suppression of IL10. The data suggest epigenetic control of IL-10 production. Higher tumor load may compensate the reduced IL-10 production in U-CLL, accounting for clinical immunosuppression in both subsets. The observation that SYK inhibition also suppresses IL-10 provides a potential new rationale for therapeutic targeting and immunological rescue by SYK inhibitors in CLL.

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