Inhibitors of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase have recently been validated as therapeutic targets in leukemia, but the mechanism of leukemogenic transformation downstream of this enzyme is unclear. Here, we evaluated whether nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase's effects on aberrant proliferation and survival of myeloid leukemic cells are dependent on sirtuin and delineated the downstream signaling pathways operating during this process. We identified significant upregulation of sirtuin 2 and nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase levels in primary acute myeloid leukemia blasts compared to in hematopoietic progenitor cells from healthy individuals. Importantly, specific inhibition of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase or sirtuin 2 significantly reduced proliferation and induced apoptosis in human acute myeloid leukemia cell lines and primary blasts. Intriguingly, we found that protein kinase B/AKT could be deacetylated by nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase and sirtuin 2. The anti-leukemic effects of the inhibition of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase or sirtuin 2 were accompanied by acetylation of protein kinase B/AKT with subsequent inhibition by dephosphorylation. This leads to activation of glycogen synthase kinase-3 β via diminished phosphorylation and, ultimately, inactivation of β-catenin by phosphorylation. Our results provide strong evidence that nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase and sirtuin 2 participate in the aberrant proliferation and survival of leukemic cells, and suggest that the protein kinase B/AKT/ glycogen synthase kinase-3 β/β-catenin pathway is a target for inhibition of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase or sirtuin 2 and, thereby, leukemia cell proliferation.
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