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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The C-terminus of c-ABL is required for proliferation and viability signaling in a c-ABL/erythropoietin receptor fusion protein.

  • Author(s): Okuda, K
  • D'Andrea, A
  • Van Etten, R A
  • Griffin, J D
  • et al.

Activated ABL oncogenes cause B-cell leukemias in mice and chronic myelogenous leukemia in humans. However, the mechanism of transformation is complex and not well understood. A method to rapidly and reversibly activate c-ABL was created by fusing the extra-cytoplasmic and transmembrane domain of the erythropoietin (EPO) receptor with c-ABL (EPO R/ABL). When this chimeric receptor was expressed in Ba/F3 cells, the addition of EPO resulted in a dose-dependent activation of c-ABL tyrosine kinase and was strongly antiapoptotic and weakly mitogenic. To evaluate the contributions of various ABL domains to biochemical signaling and biological effects, chimeric receptors were constructed in which the ABL SH3 domain was deleted (triangle upSH3), the SH2 domain was deleted (triangle upSH2), the C-terminal actin-binding domain was deleted (triangle upABD), or kinase activity was eliminated by a point mutation, K290M (KD). The mutant receptors were stably expressed in Ba/F3 cells and analyzed for signaling defects, proliferation, viability, and EPO-induced leukemia in nude mice. When compared with the ability of the full-length EPO R/ABL receptor to induce proliferation and support viability in vitro, the triangle upSH3 mutant was equivalent, the triangle upSH2 mutant was moderately impaired, and the triangle upABD and KD mutants were profoundly impaired. None of these cell lines caused leukemia in mice in the absence of pharmacological doses of EPO. However, in mice treated with EPO (10 U/d), death from leukemia occurred rapidly with wild-type and triangle upSH3. However, time to death was prolonged by at least twofold for triangle upSH2 and greater than threefold for triangle upABD. This inducible model of ABL transformation provides a method to link specific signaling defects with specific biological defects and has shown an important role for the C-terminal actin-binding domain in proliferation and transformation in the context of this receptor/oncogene.

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