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Cancer Res. 2001 Mar 1;61(5):2194-9.

Role of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-Akt pathway in nucleophosmin/anaplastic lymphoma kinase-mediated lymphomagenesis.

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Center for Biotechnology, College of Science and Technology, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122, USA.


The NPM/ALK fusion gene, formed by the t(2;5) translocation in a subset of anaplastic large cell lymphomas, encodes a Mr 75,000 hybrid protein that contains the NH2-terminal portion of the nucleolar phosphoprotein nucleophosmin (NPM) joined to the entire cytoplasmic portion of the receptor tyrosine kinase anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK). NPM/ALK encodes a constitutively activated tyrosine kinase that belongs to the family of tyrosine kinases activated by chromosomal translocations. Our studies showed that NPM/ALK, similar to other members of this family, activates phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and its downstream effector, serine/threonine kinase (Akt). PI3K was found in complex with NPM/ALK. Both PI3K and Akt kinase were permanently activated in NPM/ALK-transfected BaF3 murine hematopoietic cells and in NPM/ALK-positive, but not in NPM/ALK-negative, patient-derived anaplastic large cell lymphoma cell lines. In addition, Akt was phosphorylated/activated in protein samples isolated from four patients diagnosed with ALK-positive T/null-cell lymphomas. The PI3K inhibitors wortmannin and LY294002 induced apoptosis in NPM/ALK+ cells but exerted only minor effects on the control BaF3 parental cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated by growth factors. Furthermore, retroviral infection of NPM/ALK+ BaF3 cells with a dominant-negative PI3K mutant (delta p85) or a dominant-negative Akt mutant (K179M) inhibited proliferation and clonogenic properties of the infected cells. Finally, the Akt mutant (K179M) suppressed the tumorigenicity of NPM/ALK-transfected BaF3 cells injected into syngeneic mice. In conclusion, our data indicate that NPM/ALK constitutively activates the PI3K-Akt pathway and that this pathway plays an important role in the NPM/ALK-mediated malignant transformation.

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