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Mimicry of a constitutively active pre-B cell receptor in acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells.

  • Author(s): Feldhahn, Niklas;
  • Klein, Florian;
  • Mooster, Jana;
  • Hadweh, Paul;
  • Sprangers, Mieke;
  • Wartenberg, Maria;
  • Bekhite, Mohamed;
  • Hofmann, Wolf-Karsten;
  • Herzog, Sebastian;
  • Jumaa, Hassan;
  • Rowley, Janet;
  • Müschen, Markus
  • et al.
Abstract

Pre-B cells undergo apoptosis unless they are rescued by pre-B cell receptor-dependent survival signals. We previously showed that the BCR-ABL1 kinase that is expressed in pre-B lymphoblastic leukemia bypasses selection for pre-B cell receptor-dependent survival signals. Investigating possible interference of BCR-ABL1 with pre-B cell receptor signaling, we found that neither SYK nor SLP65 can be phosphorylated in response to pre-B cell receptor engagement. Instead, Brutons tyrosine kinase (BTK) is constitutively phosphorylated by BCR-ABL1. Activated BTK is essential for survival signals that otherwise would arise from the pre-B cell receptor, including activation of PLCgamma1, autonomous Ca2+ signaling, STAT5-phosphorylation, and up-regulation of BCLX(L). Inhibition of BTK activity specifically induces apoptosis in BCR-ABL1+ leukemia cells to a similar extent as inhibition of BCR-ABL1 kinase activity itself. However, BCR-ABL1 cannot directly bind to full-length BTK. Instead, BCR-ABL1 induces the expression of a truncated splice variant of BTK that acts as a linker between the two kinases. As opposed to full-length BTK, truncated BTK lacks kinase activity yet can bind to BCR-ABL1 through its SRC-homology domain 3. Acting as a linker, truncated BTK enables BCR-ABL1-dependent activation of full-length BTK, which initiates downstream survival signals and mimics a constitutively active pre-B cell receptor.

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