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Cancer Sci. 2014 Mar;105(3):297-307. doi: 10.1111/cas.12339. Epub 2014 Jan 30.

Downregulation of miR-217 correlates with resistance of Ph(+) leukemia cells to ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

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  • 1Department of Hematology and Respiratory Medicine, Kochi Medical School, Kochi University, Nankoku, Japan.


This study found that long-term exposure of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) K562 cells to BCR/ABL thyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) caused drug-resistance in association with an increase in levels of DNA methyltransferases (DNMT) and a decrease in levels of microRNA miR-217. These observations are clinically relevant; an increase in levels of DNMT3A in association with downregulation of miR-217 were noted in leukemia cells isolated from individuals with BCR/ABL TKI-resistant Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph(+) ALL) and CML. Further studies with TKI-resistant K562 cells found that forced expression of miR-217 inhibited expression of DNMT3A through a miR-217-binding site within the 3'-untranslated region of DNMT3A and sensitized these cells to growth inhibition mediated by the TKI. Of note, long-term exposure of K562 cells to dasatinib (10 nM) together with 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-AzadC) (0.1 μM) potently inhibited proliferation of these cells in association with upregulation of miR-217 and downregulation of DNMT3A in vitro. In addition, a decrease in levels of DNMT3A and an increase in levels of miR-217 were noted in K562 tumors growing in immune-deficient mice that were treated with the combination of 5-AzadC and dasatinib. Taken together, Ph(+) leukemia cells acquire TKI resistance via downregulation of miR-217 and upregulation of DNMT3A. Inhibition of DNMT3A by forced expression of miR-217 or 5-AzadC may be useful to prevent drug resistance in individuals who receive TKI.

© 2013 The Authors. Cancer Science published by Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd on behalf of Japanese Cancer Association.


5-AzadC; DNA methyltransferases; chronic myelogenous leukemia; dasatinib; miR-217

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