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Cancer Lett. 2013 Aug 9;336(1):96-105. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2013.04.006. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

Inactivation of PTEN increases ABCG2 expression and the side population through the PI3K/Akt pathway in adult acute leukemia.

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  • 1Department of Hematology, Xiang-Ya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China.


Both the occurrence and recurrence of acute leukemia (AL) might suggest the presence of leukemia stem cells. Side population (SP) cells, exhibiting stem cell-like properties, express ABCG2 (breast cancer resistance protein [BCRP]). This study revealed that over-expression of ABCG2 in Jurkat and HL60 cells led to an increased SP fraction, up-regulated levels of phosphorylated-PI3K and phosphorylated-Akt, and enhanced drug resistance, all of which could be attenuated by treatment with either the PI3K inhibitor LY294002 or the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin. ABCG2 expression and SP cell counts were further characterized in 222 adult AL patients at three disease stages: upon diagnosis, at remission and at refractory/relapse (R/R), while 10 healthy donors served as the normal controls. Only a small fraction of the ABCG2+population (0.05-12.3%) and SP cells (0.02-1.60%) were observed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients. In the normal control population, the SP cell fraction represented a statistically higher percentage of total cells compared to the fraction of SP cells upon diagnosis or relapse in both AML and ALL. In addition, we demonstrated that ABCG2 expression and SP cell ratios can be upregulated by the inactivation of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) protein, achieved in this study by removing inhibition of the PI3K/Akt pathway. Collectively, this study suggests that the PTEN/PI3K/Akt pathway up-regulates ABCG2 expression and the SP cell population and is a potential AL-specific treatment target worth investigating further.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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