Human gene-engineered calreticulin mutant stem cells recapitulate MPN hallmarks and identify targetable vulnerabilities

Johannes Foßelteder, Gabriel Pabst, Tommaso Sconocchia, Angelika Schlacher, Lisa Auinger, Karl Kashofer, Christine Beham-Schmid, Slave Trajanoski, Claudia Waskow, Wolfgang Schöll, Heinz Sill, Armin Zebisch, Albert Wölfler, Daniel Thomas, Andreas Reinisch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Calreticulin (CALR) mutations present the main oncogenic drivers in JAK2 wildtype (WT) myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), including essential thrombocythemia and myelofibrosis, where mutant (MUT) CALR is increasingly recognized as a suitable mutation-specific drug target. However, our current understanding of its mechanism-of-action is derived from mouse models or immortalized cell lines, where cross-species differences, ectopic over-expression and lack of disease penetrance are hampering translational research. Here, we describe the first human gene-engineered model of CALR MUT MPN using a CRISPR/Cas9 and adeno-associated viral vector-mediated knock-in strategy in primary human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) to establish a reproducible and trackable phenotype in vitro and in xenografted mice. Our humanized model recapitulates many disease hallmarks: thrombopoietin-independent megakaryopoiesis, myeloid-lineage skewing, splenomegaly, bone marrow fibrosis, and expansion of megakaryocyte-primed CD41+ progenitors. Strikingly, introduction of CALR mutations enforced early reprogramming of human HSPCs and the induction of an endoplasmic reticulum stress response. The observed compensatory upregulation of chaperones revealed novel mutation-specific vulnerabilities with preferential sensitivity of CALR mutant cells to inhibition of the BiP chaperone and the proteasome. Overall, our humanized model improves purely murine models and provides a readily usable basis for testing of novel therapeutic strategies in a human setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-853
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Apr 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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