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Nat Med. 2001 Feb;7(2):228-34.

Induction of apoptosis in chronic myelogenous leukemia cells through nuclear entrapment of BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase.

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Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.


The chimeric BCR-ABL oncoprotein is the molecular hallmark of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). BCR-ABL contains nuclear import and export signals but it is localized only in the cytoplasm where it activates mitogenic and anti-apoptotic pathways. We have found that inhibition of the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase, either by mutation or by the drug STI571, can stimulate its nuclear entry. By combining STI571 with leptomycin B (LMB) to block nuclear export, we trapped BCR-ABL in the nucleus and the nuclear BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase activates apoptosis. As a result, the combined treatment with STI571 and LMB causes the irreversible and complete killing of BCR-ABL transformed cells, whereas the effect of either drug alone is fully reversible. The combined treatment with STI571 and LMB also preferentially eliminates mouse bone marrow cells that express BCR-ABL. These results indicate that nuclear entrapment of BCR-ABL can be used as a therapeutic strategy to selectively kill chronic myelogenous leukemia cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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