The proposed work focuses on the PI3K/Akt/Foxo1 axis in B cell lymphoma. Work on the Foxo factors in numerous organisms and cell types have led to the view that Foxo factors inhibit cell survival and proliferation. We reported that Foxo1 exerts a nonredundant role in early B cell differentiation, Ig gene rearrangement, homing and class switch recombination. However, we found no evidence of B cell hyperplasia or accumulation in the absence of Foxo1, arguing against a tumor suppressor role. Indeed, recently reported sequencing efforts in follicular lymphoma (FL), Burkitt's lymphoma and diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) have noted that Foxo1 (and not other Foxo genes) is frequently mutated in most subtypes of B cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (B-NHL). Unexpectedly, these mutations appear to be gain-of-function mutations that promote nuclear retention of Foxo1 and thus sustained activation of the Foxo1 transcriptional program. Since B-NHL is derived from the germinal center (GC) B cell subset, in the proposed work we will determine the impact of the putative gain-of-function Foxo1 mutations in GC B cell differentiation and transformation using mouse models and human B lymphoma lines. As Foxo1 function is thought to be the primary transcriptional target of the PI3K signaling pathway, these findings will be of direct relevance to current clinical studies of PI3K inhibitors in B cell malignancies.
Completion of the proposed work will provide fundamental and mechanistic insight into the transcriptional control of germinal center B cell differentiation and transformation, and thus the molecular underpinnings of B cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.