Hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) can cure a variety of benign and malignant hematopoietic disorders, but acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remains the primary case of transplant-related morbidity, disability and mortality, thereby limiting the use of HCT. Although progress in understanding the pathophysiology of GVHD has been continually made, there are significant gaps in understanding molecular mechanisms that regulate the pathogenicity of allogeneic T and B cells in GVHD. Recent evidence demonstrates that microRNAs (miRs), a class of small noncoding RNAs, play a significant role in orchestrating immune responses. miR-17-92 cluster encodes 6 miRs and plays an important role in a variety of immune responses including anti-infection, anti-tumor and autoimmunity. However, the role of this cluster in the modulation of T- and B-cell responses in GVHD and graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) has not been explored. Our long-term goal is to prevent and treat GVHD while preserving the GVL effect after HCT by targeting miR-17-92 cluster in humans. The objective of this proposal is to achieve this goal in pre-clinical bone marrow transplantation (BMT) models in mice. The central hypothesis is that miR-17-92 controls T- and B-cell activation and function in alloresponse, and thus blockade of this cluster will significantly alleviate acute and chronic GVHD while preserving GVL activity. This hypothesis is strongly supported by our preliminary studies, where we found that miR-17-92-deficient T cells had significantly reduced ability to cause acute GVHD while retaining GVL activity in murine models of allogeneic BMT. Furthermore, synthetic anti-miR-17 or anti-miR-19 locked nucleic acid (LNA) antagomirs also significantly reduced donor T-cell expansion, IFN? production, and GVHD severity. In current proposal, we will test our hypothesis and accomplish the objectives by pursuing 3 Specific Aims: 1) To define the role of miR-17-92 in T-cell response in aGVHD and GVL effect; 2) To determine the role of miR-17-92 in T-cell and B-cell response in cGVHD; 3) To evaluate the effects of blocking miR-17-92 in GVHD and GVL activity. The proposed studies are expected to enhance our understanding in the roles of miR-17-92 in regulating T- and B-cell responses, and to validate miR-17-92 as therapeutic targets for the control of GVHD while preserving GVL activity.

Public Health Relevance

Hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT) offers a great promise for the treatment of a variety of diseases including cancer, but graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a major complication of this therapeutic procedure. Our recent research provides strong evidence that microRNA-17-92, a cluster of small noncoding RNAs, is required for the development of GVHD. In the current proposal, we plan to extend our preliminary observation and further validate miR-17-92 as therapeutic targets for the control of GVHD, which will likely enhance the therapeutic potential of HCT.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Research Project (R01)
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Transplantation, Tolerance, and Tumor Immunology (TTT)
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Nabavi, Nasrin N
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Medical University of South Carolina
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United States
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