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Expression profiling of ribosome biogenesis factors in AML patients

Apr 20, 2017

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous disease. Prognosis is mainly influenced by patient age at diagnosis and cytogenetic alterations, two of the main factors currently used in AML patient risk stratification. However, additional criteria are required to improve the current risk classification and better adapt patient care. In neoplastic cells, ribosome biogenesis is increased to sustain the high proliferation rate and ribosome composition is altered to modulate specific gene expression driving tumorigenesis. Here, we investigated the usage of ribosome biogenesis factors as clinical markers in adult patients with AML. We showed that nucleoli, the nucleus compartments where ribosome production takes place, are modified in AML by analyzing a panel of AML and healthy donor cells using immunofluorescence staining. Using four AML series, including the TCGA dataset, altogether representing a total of about 270 samples, we showed that not all factors involved in ribosome biogenesis have clinical values although ribosome biogenesis is increased in AML. Interestingly, we identified the regulator of ribosome production nucleolin (NCL) as over-expressed in AML blasts. Moreover, we found in two series that high NCL mRNA expression level was associated with a poor overall survival, particular in elderly patients. Multivariate analyses taking into account age and cytogenetic risk indicated that NCL expression in blast cells is an independent marker of reduced survival. Our study identifies NCL as a potential novel prognostic factor in AML. Altogether, our results suggest that the ribosome biogenesis pathway may be of interest as clinical markers in AML.

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