Science advances

Pim kinases modulate resistance to FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitors in FLT3-ITD acute myeloid leukemia.

PMID 26601252


Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) is frequently detected in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients and is associated with a dismal long-term prognosis. FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitors provide short-term disease control, but relapse invariably occurs within months. Pim protein kinases are oncogenic FLT3-ITD targets expressed in AML cells. We show that increased Pim kinase expression is found in relapse samples from AML patients treated with FLT3 inhibitors. Ectopic Pim-2 expression induces resistance to FLT3 inhibition in both FLT3-ITD-induced myeloproliferative neoplasm and AML models in mice. Strikingly, we found that Pim kinases govern FLT3-ITD signaling and that their pharmacological or genetic inhibition restores cell sensitivity to FLT3 inhibitors. Finally, dual inhibition of FLT3 and Pim kinases eradicates FLT3-ITD(+) cells including primary AML cells. Concomitant Pim and FLT3 inhibition represents a promising new avenue for AML therapy.