Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is the most common type of primary cutaneous lymphoma. Here, we report that patients with CTCL show increased IL15 in a clinical stage–dependent manner. Mechanistically, we show that ZEB1 is a transcriptional repressor of IL15 in T cells and that hypermethylation of the ZEB1 binding region within the IL15 promoter, as seen in patients with CTCL, prevents ZEB1 binding and causes increased transcription of IL15. Using a transgenic mouse model of IL15, we provide evidence that overexpression of IL15 induces a spontaneous CTCL that mimics the human neoplasm. Excessive autocrine production of IL15 in T cells inhibits an HDAC1-mediated negative autoregulatory loop, resulting in the upregulation of HDAC1 and HDAC6 and transcriptional induction of the onco-miR-21. Interruption of IL15 downstream signaling with isotype-specific HDAC inhibitors halts (HDAC1) or significantly delays (HDAC6) the progression of CTCL in vivo and provides preclinical evidence supporting a hierarchical model of oncogenic signaling in CTCL.
SIGNIFICANCE: To date, CTCL pathogenesis remains unknown, and there are no curative therapies. Our findings not only demonstrate a critical role for IL15-mediated inflammation in cutaneous T-cell lymphomagenesis, but also uncover a new oncogenic regulatory loop in CTCL involving IL15, HDAC1, HDAC6, and miR-21 that shows differential sensitivity to isotype-specific HDAC inhibitors. Cancer Discov; 6(9); 1–20. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Discovery Online (http://cancerdiscovery.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received October 30, 2015.
- Revision received July 7, 2016.
- Accepted July 11, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.