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Oncogene. 2011 Feb 24;30(8):990-1001. doi: 10.1038/onc.2010.479. Epub 2010 Nov 1.

Anti-inflammatory cytokines hepatocyte growth factor and interleukin-11 are over-expressed in Polycythemia vera and contribute to the growth of clonal erythroblasts independently of JAK2V617F.

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  • 1INSERM UMR 892, Institut de Biologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Nantes, France.


The V617F activating mutation of janus kinase 2 (JAK2), a kinase essential for cytokine signalling, characterizes Polycythemia vera (PV), one of the myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN). However, not all MPNs carry mutations of JAK2, and in JAK2-mutated patients, expression of JAK2V617F does not always result in clone expansion. In the present study, we provide evidence that inflammation-linked cytokines are required for the growth of JAK2V617F-mutated erythroid progenitors. In a first series of experiments, we searched for cytokines over-expressed in PV using cytokine antibody (Ab) arrays, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for analyses of serum and bone marrow (BM) plasma, and quantitative reverse transcription-PCRs for analyses of cells purified from PV patients and controls. We found that PV patients over-expressed anti-inflammatory hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and interleukin-11 (IL-11), BM mesenchymal stromal cells (BMMSCs) and erythroblasts being the main producers. In a second series of experiments, autocrine/paracrine cytokine stimulation of erythroblasts was blocked using neutralizing Abs specific for IL-11 or c-MET, the HGF receptor. The growth of JAK2V617F-mutated HEL cells and PV erythroblasts was inhibited, indicating that JAK2-mutated cells depend on HGF and IL-11 for their growth. Additional experiments showed that transient expression of JAK2V617F in BaF-3/erythropoietin receptor cells, and invalidation of JAK2V617F in HEL cells using anti-JAK2 small interfering RNA, did not affect HGF and IL-11 expression. Thus, anti-inflammatory HGF and IL-11 are upregulated in PV and their overproduction is not a consequence of JAK2V617F. As both cytokines contribute to the proliferation of PV erythroblasts, blocking the c-MET/HGF/IL-11 pathways could be of interest as an additional therapeutic option in PV.

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