PLoS genetics

The functional interplay between the t(9;22)-associated fusion proteins BCR/ABL and ABL/BCR in Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphatic leukemia.

PMID 25919613


The hallmark of Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph(+)) leukemia is the BCR/ABL kinase, which is successfully targeted by selective ATP competitors. However, inhibition of BCR/ABL alone is unable to eradicate Ph(+) leukemia. The t(9;22) is a reciprocal translocation which encodes not only for the der22 (Philadelphia chromosome) related BCR/ABL, but also for der9 related ABL/BCR fusion proteins, which can be detected in 65% of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and 100% of patients with Ph+ acute lymphatic leukemia (ALL). ABL/BCRs are oncogenes able to influence the lineage commitment of hematopoietic progenitors. Aim of this study was to further disclose the role of p96(ABL/BCR) for the pathogenesis of Ph(+) ALL. The co-expression of p96(ABL/BCR) enhanced the kinase activity and as a consequence, the transformation potential of p185(BCR/ABL). Targeting p96(ABL/BCR) by RNAi inhibited growth of Ph(+) ALL cell lines and Ph(+) ALL patient-derived long-term cultures (PD-LTCs). Our in vitro and in vivo stem cell studies further revealed a functional hierarchy of p96(ABL/BCR) and p185(BCR/AB)L in hematopoietic stem cells. Co-expression of p96(ABL/BCR) abolished the capacity of p185(BCR/ABL) to induce a CML-like disease and led to the induction of ALL. Taken together our here presented data reveal an important role of p96(ABL/BCR) for the pathogenesis of Ph(+) ALL.