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Oncogene. 2008 Aug 7;27(34):4678-89. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.107. Epub 2008 Apr 21.

Inhibition of Abl tyrosine kinase enhances nerve growth factor-mediated signaling in Bcr-Abl transformed cells via the alteration of signaling complex and the receptor turnover.

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  • 1Institut für Biochemie, OE 4310, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany.


Receptor tyrosine kinase-mediated signaling is tightly regulated by a number of cytoplasmic signaling molecules. In this report, we show that Bcr-Abl transformed chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) cell lines, K562 and Meg-01, express the receptor for nerve growth factor (NGF), TrkA, on the cell surface; however, the NGF-mediated signal is not particularly strong. Treatment with imatinib, a potent inhibitor of Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase, downmodulates phosphorylation of downstream molecules. Upon stimulation with NGF, Erk and Akt are phosphorylated to a much greater degree in imatinib-treated cells than in untreated cells. Knockdown of expression of Bcr-Abl using small interfering RNA technique also enhanced NGF-mediated Akt phosphorylation, indicating that Bcr-Abl kinase modifies NGF signaling directly. Imatinib treatment also enhanced NGF signaling in rat adrenal pheochromocytoma cell line PC12 that expresses TrkA and c-Abl, suggesting that it is not only restoration of responsiveness to NGF after blocking oncoprotein activity, but also c-Abl tyrosine kinase per se may be a negative regulator of growth factor signaling. Furthermore, inhibition of Abl tyrosine kinase enhanced clearance of surface TrkA after NGF treatment and simultaneously enhanced NGF-mediated signaling, suggesting that as in neuronal cells 'signaling endosomes' are formed in hematopoietic cells. To examine the role of TrkA in CML cells, we studied cell growth or colony formation in the presence or absence of imatinib with or without NGF. We found that NGF treatment induces cell survival in imatinib-treated CML cell lines, as well as colony formation of primary CD34+ CML cells, strongly suggesting that NGF/TrkA signaling contributes to aberrant signaling in CML.

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