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Cancer Cell. 2004 Apr;5(4):389-401.

Phosphorylation of PML by mitogen-activated protein kinases plays a key role in arsenic trioxide-mediated apoptosis.

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Section of Microbiology, Division of Biological Sciences, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


The promyelocytic leukemia (PML) protein is a potent growth suppressor and proapototic factor, whereas aberrant fusions of PML and retinoic acid receptor (RAR)-alpha are causal agents in human acute promyelocytic leukemia. Arsenic trioxide (As(2)O(3)) treatment induces apoptosis in acute promyelocytic leukemia cells through an incompletely understood mechanism. We report here that As(2)O(3) treatment induces phosphorylation of the PML protein through a mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase pathway. Increased PML phosphorylation is associated with increased sumoylation of PML and increased PML-mediated apoptosis. Conversely, MAP kinase cascade inhibitors, or the introduction of phosphorylation or sumoylation-defective mutations of PML, impair As(2)O(3)-mediated apoptosis by PML. We conclude that phosphorylation by MAP kinase cascades potentiates the antiproliferative functions of PML and helps mediate the proapoptotic effects of As(2)O(3).

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