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Leukemia. 2004 Jan;18(1):103-12.

Constitutive NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity in AML is frequently mediated by a Ras/PI3-K/PKB-dependent pathway.

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Division of Hematology, Department of Medicine, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


In the present study, we aimed to elucidate the mechanism responsible for constitutive NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity in AML cells. Intervening in aberrant signaling pathway provides a rational approach for in vivo targeting of AML cells. Constitutive NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity was observed in 16 of 22 (73%) investigated AML cases and was, in general, associated with resistance to spontaneous apoptosis. Indeed, inhibition of NF-kappaB activity by the NF-kappaB inhibitor SN-50 peptide resulted in enhanced chemotherapy-induced apoptosis. In the majority of cases, constitutive NF-kappaB activity was mediated by a Ras/PI3 kinase (PI3-K)/protein kinase B (PKB)-mediated pathway. The PI3-K inhibitor Ly294002 and the Ras inhibitor L-744832 both inhibited PKB phosphorylation and NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity. The constitutive activation of Ras GTP-ase was caused by mutations in the gene encoding for N-Ras in 29% of the cases. The constitutive NF-kappaB activity could so far not be ascribed to the autocrine production of growth factors or to mutations in the Flt3 receptor, since anti-GM-CSF, -IL-1, -IL6, -TNFalpha or the tyrosine kinase inhibitor AG1296 did not affect the NF-kappaB DNA-binding activity. The present study demonstrates that Ras activation is an important pathway for triggering the NF-kappaB pathway in AML cells.

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