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American Society of Hematology, Blood, 13(143), p. 1269-1281, 2024

DOI: 10.1182/blood.2023021815



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The remission status of AML patients after allo-HCT is associated with a distinct single-cell bone marrow T-cell signature

Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher
Distributing this paper is prohibited by the publisher

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Abstract Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a hematologic malignancy for which allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) often remains the only curative therapeutic approach. However, incapability of T cells to recognize and eliminate residual leukemia stem cells might lead to an insufficient graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect and relapse. Here, we performed single-cell RNA-sequencing (scRNA-seq) on bone marrow (BM) T lymphocytes and CD34+ cells of 6 patients with AML 100 days after allo-HCT to identify T-cell signatures associated with either imminent relapse (REL) or durable complete remission (CR). We observed a higher frequency of cytotoxic CD8+ effector and gamma delta (γδ) T cells in CR vs REL samples. Pseudotime and gene regulatory network analyses revealed that CR CD8+ T cells were more advanced in maturation and had a stronger cytotoxicity signature, whereas REL samples were characterized by inflammatory tumor necrosis factor/NF-κB signaling and an immunosuppressive milieu. We identified ADGRG1/GPR56 as a surface marker enriched in CR CD8+ T cells and confirmed in a CD33-directed chimeric antigen receptor T cell/AML coculture model that GPR56 becomes upregulated on T cells upon antigen encounter and elimination of AML cells. We show that GPR56 continuously increases at the protein level on CD8+ T cells after allo-HCT and confirm faster interferon gamma (IFN-γ) secretion upon re-exposure to matched, but not unmatched, recipient AML cells in the GPR56+ vs GPR56– CD8+ T-cell fraction. Together, our data provide a single-cell reference map of BM–derived T cells after allo-HCT and propose GPR56 expression dynamics as a surrogate for antigen encounter after allo-HCT.