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Cancer Res. 2013 Nov 15;73(22):6642-53. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-0802.

The transcription factor IRF8 counteracts BCR-ABL to rescue dendritic cell development in chronic myelogenous leukemia.

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  • 1Authors' Affiliations: Departments of Immunology, Environmental Immuno-Dermatology, Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology, and Experimental Animal Science, Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine; and Department of Hematology, Yokohama City University Medical Center, Yokohama, Japan.


BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) have dramatically improved therapy for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). However, several problems leading to TKI resistance still impede a complete cure of this disease. IFN regulatory factor-8 (IRF8) is a transcription factor essential for the development and functions of immune cells, including dendritic cells. Irf8(-/-) mice develop a CML-like disease and IRF8 expression is downregulated in patients with CML, suggesting that IRF8 is involved in the pathogenesis of CML. In this study, by using a murine CML model, we show that BCR-ABL strongly inhibits a generation of dendritic cells from an early stage of their differentiation in vivo, concomitant with suppression of Irf8 expression. Forced expression of IRF8 overrode BCR-ABL (both wild-type and T315I-mutated) to rescue dendritic cell development in vitro, indicating that the suppression of Irf8 causes dendritic cell deficiency. Gene expression profiling revealed that IRF8 restored the expression of a significant portion of BCR-ABL-dysregulated genes and predicted that BCR-ABL has immune-stimulatory potential. Indeed, IRF8-rescued BCR-ABL-expressing dendritic cells were capable of inducing CTLs more efficiently than control dendritic cells. Altogether, our findings suggest that IRF8 is an attractive target in next-generation therapies for CML.

©2013 AACR

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