Nonmyristoylated Abl proteins transform a factor-dependent hematopoietic cell line.
N-terminal myristoylation can promote the association of proteins with the plasma membrane, a property that is required for oncogenic variants of Src and Abl to transform fibroblastic cell types. The P210bcr/abl protein of chronic myelogenous leukemia cells is not myristoylated and does not stably transform NIH 3T3 fibroblasts; however, it will transform lymphoid and myeloid cell types in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that myristoylation is not required for Abl variants to transform hematopoietic cells. To test this hypothesis, we introduced point mutations that disrupt myristoylation into two activated Abl proteins, v-Abl and a deletion mutant of c-Abl (delta XB), and examined their ability to transform an interleukin-3-dependent lymphoblastoid cell line, Ba/F3. Neither of the nonmyristoylated Abl proteins transformed NIH 3T3 fibroblasts, but like P210bcr/abl, both were capable of transforming the Ba/F3 cells to factor independence and tumorigenicity. Nonmyristoylated Abl variants did not associate with the plasma membrane in the transformed Ba/F3 cells. These results demonstrate that Abl proteins can transform hematopoietic cells in the absence of membrane association and suggest that distinct functions of Abl are required for transformation of fibroblast and hematopoietic cell types.