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Eur J Haematol. 2001 Aug;67(2):63-71.

Constitutive activation of STAT transcription factors in acute myelogenous leukemia.

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Department of Medicine III, Grosshadern, Germany.


Hematopoietic growth factors (HGF) are essential for proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic precursors and activate a distinct set of JAK-STAT (Janus kinases-signal transducers and activators of transcription) proteins. Previous results from our group have shown a strong expression of JAK-STAT proteins in primary acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) blasts and AML cell lines. Here, we asked whether a constitutive activation of the JAK-STAT pathway might be involved in the pathogenesis of AML. We could demonstrate a constitutive activation of STAT1, 3 and 5 by immunoprecipitation of the tyrosine phosphorylated proteins in different human AML cell lines. Three patterns of STAT activation were found: (I) activation of only STAT1, (II) activation of STAT1 in combination with STAT3, and (III) activation of STAT1, 3 and 5. Furthermore, STAT1 and 3 formed stable heterodimers only in cell lines with constitutive STAT3 activation. In all cell lines analyzed, tyrosine phosphorylation of the four known Janus kinases could not be detected, although JAK1 was stably associated with STAT3. To further analyze whether a constitutive activation of tyrosine kinases might contribute to the autonomous growth of AML blasts, inhibitor studies were performed. The tyrphostin AG490, an inhibitor of the JAK-STAT pathway, but not A1, an inactive tyrphostin induced a time- and dose-dependent growth arrest without overt morphological signs of differentiation in AML cell lines. Our results show that STAT transcription factors are constitutively activated in human AML cell lines and might contribute to the autonomous proliferation of AML blasts. Inhibition of this pathway might be of interest for the establishment of more specific antileukemic strategies.

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