Comprehensive Clonal Mapping of Hematopoiesis in Vivo in Humans By Retroviral Vector Insertional Barcoding

Luca Biasco, Serena Scala, Francesca Dionisio, Andrea Calabria, Luca Basso Ricci, Samantha Scaramuzza, Cristina Baricordi, Stefania Giannelli, Victor X Neduva, David J Dow, Danilo Pellin, Paola Vicard, Clelia Di Serio, Eugenio Montini, Luigi Naldini and Alessandro Aiuti


Embedded Image

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) are endowed with the unique role of generating an adequate and efficient pool of blood cells throughout human life. Data derived from clonal tracking of HSC activity and hematopoietic dynamics directly in vivo in humans would be of paramount importance for the design of therapies for hematological disorders and cancers. Our gene therapy (GT) clinical trials for adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficient-SCID and Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome (WAS) based on the infusion of genetically engineered HSC, constitute unique clinical settings where each vector-marked progenitors and its blood cell progeny is traceable being univocally barcoded by a vector integration site (IS). To study early dynamics of hematopoietic reconstitution in humans, we collected by LAM-PCR + Illumina-Miseq sequencing 14.807.407 sequence reads corresponding to 71.981 IS tagging clones belonging to 13 different cell types purified from the bone marrow and the peripheral blood of 4 WAS patients up to 36 months after GT. We firstly identified and quantified identical IS shared among CD34+ progenitors, and mature Myeloid/Lymphoid cells as marker of the real-time clonal output of individual vector-marked HSC clones in vivo. We unraveled the timing of short, intermediate and long term HSC output showing that CD34+ clones active at 3-6 months after GT are not detectable at later follow up. By unsupervised clustering of IS similarities among lineages we unveiled diverse input of HSPC clonal differentiation towards lymphoid, myeloid and megakaryo-erythroid cells and found that NK cells have a distinct relationship with HSPC as compared to T and B cells. We also profiled the level of HSPC output overtime showing that early reconstitution is markedly skewed towards myeloid production. Importantly, clonogenic progenitors generated in vitro from ex vivo purified CD34+ patients’ cells, showed a IS profile coherent with that of freshly purified BM and PB cell types from the same time-point.

We also studied population clonal entropy through 7 different diversity indexes and uncovered that progenitor output occurs in distinct waves during the first 6-9 months after transplantation reaching a “homeostatic equilibrium” only by 12 months after GT. At steady state we estimated by mark-recapture mathematical approaches that 1900-7000 transduced HSC clones were stably contributing to the progenitors repertoire for up to 3 years after infusion of gene corrected CD34+ cells. To evaluate the long-term preservation of activity by transplanted HSC we exploited data derived from the IS-based tracking of 4.845 clones in ADA-SCID patients performed for up to 6 years after GT. We showed that identical IS are consistently detected at multiple lineages level even several years after GT. Strikingly, by semi-quantitative PCRs on specific vector-genome junctions we tracked a fluctuating but consistent output of marked HSC over a period of 5 years without the manifestation of clonal quiescence phases. Additionally, since the gamma-retroviral vector used in ADA-SCID HSC-GT trial is able to transduce only actively replicating cells, we provided the first evidence that in vitro activated HSC, “awaken” from dormancy, can still, once infused, retain in vivo long-term activity in humans. We exploited IS similarities among the lineages for both WAS and ADA-SCID datasets to reconstruct the hematopoietic hierarchy by combining conditional probability distributions and static/dynamic graphical models of dependencies. Notably, preliminary data unveiled a link between myeloid progenitors and mature lymphoid cells that supports the recently suggested model of hematopoiesis based on a delayed branching of myeloid and lymphoid lineages. Further mathematical models are being applied to specifically study population dynamics and single HSPC contribution to hematopoiesis including stochastic models of neutral clonal drift. More detailed analysis are also being performed on IS collected from 7 distinct CD34+ subtypes isolated from GT patients and FACS sorted according to the most recent markers of HSPC differentiation. Overall our work constitute the first molecular tracking of individual hematopoietic clones in humans providing an unprecedented detailed analysis of HSC activity and dynamics in vivo. The information gathered will be crucial for the design of therapeutic approaches for a broad spectrum of hematological diseases and tumors.

Disclosures Neduva:GSK: Employment. Dow:GSK: Employment.

  • * Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

  • Embedded Image This icon denotes a clinically relevant abstract