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BCR-ABL1-induced downregulation of WASP in chronic myeloid leukemia involves epigenetic modification and contributes to malignancy

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Welbert O Pereira, Daniel D De Carvalho, Maria Emilia Zenteno, Beatriz F Ribeiro, Jacqueline F Jacysyn, Luiz R Sardinha, Maria A Zanichelli, Nelson Hamerschlak, Katia B Pagnano, Gareth E Jones, Fabiola A Castro, Gustavo P Amarante-Mendes, Yolanda Calle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e3114
Number of pages10
JournalCell Death & Disease
Volume8
Issue number10
Early online date12 Oct 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2017

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Abstract

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative disease caused by the BCR-ABL1 tyrosine kinase (TK). The development of TK inhibitors (TKIs) revolutionized the treatment of CML patients. However, TKIs are not effective to those at advanced phases when amplified BCR-ABL1 levels and increased genomic instability lead to secondary oncogenic modifications. Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (WASP) is an important regulator of signaling transduction in hematopoietic cells and was shown to be an endogenous inhibitor of the c-ABL TK. Here, we show that the expression of WASP decreases with the progression of CML, inversely correlates with the expression of BCR-ABL1 and is particularly low in blast crisis. Enforced expression of BCR-ABL1 negatively regulates the expression of WASP. Decreased expression of WASP is partially due to DNA methylation of the proximal WASP promoter. Importantly, lower levels of WASP in CML advanced phase patients correlate with poorer overall survival (OS) and is associated with TKI response. Interestingly, enforced expression of WASP in BCR-ABL1-positive K562 cells increases the susceptibility to apoptosis induced by TRAIL or chemotherapeutic drugs and negatively modulates BCR-ABL1-induced tumorigenesis in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, our data reveal a novel molecular mechanism that operates in BCR-ABL1-induced tumorigenesis that can be used to develop new strategies to help TKI-resistant, CML patients in blast crisis (BC).

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