Despite advances in understanding the genetic abnormalities in myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) and the development of JAK2 inhibitors, there is an urgent need to devise new treatment strategies, particularly for patients with triple-negative (TN) myelofibrosis (MF) who lack mutations in the JAK2 kinase pathway and have very poor clinical outcomes. Here we report that MYC copy number gain and increased MYC expression frequently occur in TN-MF and that MYC-directed activation of S100A9, an alarmin protein that plays pivotal roles in inflammation and innate immunity, is necessary and sufficient to drive development and progression of MF. Notably, the MYC-S100A9 circuit provokes a complex network of inflammatory signaling that involves numerous hematopoietic cell types in the bone marrow microenvironment. Accordingly, genetic ablation of S100A9 or treatment with small molecules targeting the MYC-S100A9 pathway effectively ameliorates MF phenotypes, highlighting the MYC–alarmin axis as a novel therapeutic vulnerability for this subgroup of MPNs.

Significance: This study establishes that MYC expression is increased in TN-MPNs via trisomy 8, that a MYC-S100A9 circuit manifest in these cases is sufficient to provoke myelofibrosis and inflammation in diverse hematopoietic cell types in the BM niche, and that the MYC-S100A9 circuit is targetable in TN-MPNs.

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