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Mol Cell Biol. 2000 Dec;20(23):8655-66.

Identification and characterization of an activating TrkA deletion mutation in acute myeloid leukemia.

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Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7295, USA.


In this study, we utilized retroviral transfer of cDNA libraries in order to identify oncogenes that are expressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). From screens using two different cell types as targets for cellular transformation, a single cDNA encoding a variant of the TrkA protooncogene was isolated. The protein product of this protooncogene, TrkA, is a receptor tyrosine kinase for nerve growth factor. The isolated transforming cDNA encoded a TrkA protein that contains a 75-amino-acid deletion in the extracellular domain of the receptor and was named DeltaTrkA. DeltaTrkA readily transformed fibroblast and epithelial cell lines. The deletion resulted in activation of the tyrosine kinase domain leading to constitutive tyrosine phosphorylation of the protein. Expression of DeltaTrkA in cells led to the constitutive activation of intracellular signaling pathways that include Ras, extracellular signal-regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase, and Akt. Importantly, DeltaTrkA altered the apoptotic and growth properties of 32D myeloid progenitor cells, suggesting DeltaTrkA may have contributed to the development and/or maintenance of the myeloid leukemia from which it was isolated. Unlike Bcr-Abl, expression of DeltaTrkA did not activate Stat5 in these cells. We have detected expression of DeltaTrkA in the original AML sample by reverse transcriptase PCR and by Western blot analysis. While previous TrkA mutations identified from human tumors involved fusion to other proteins, this report is the initial demonstration that deletions within TrkA may play a role in human cancers. Finally, this report is the first to indicate mutations in TrkA may contribute to leukemogenesis.

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