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Leukemia. 2008 Mar;22(3):572-7. Epub 2007 Dec 13.

Targeting 14-3-3 sensitizes native and mutant BCR-ABL to inhibition with U0126, rapamycin and Bcl-2 inhibitor GX15-070.

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Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as imatinib, are effective therapies for BCR-ABL-mediated human leukemias. However, clinical drug resistance occurs, which warrants development of alternative and/or complementary therapeutic strategies to target critical downstream signaling molecules. We recently demonstrated that disrupting 14-3-3/ligand association by a peptide-based 14-3-3 competitive antagonist R18 induces significant apoptosis, partially through reactivation of AKT-inhibited proapoptotic FOXO3a, in FGFR1 fusion-transformed hematopoietic cells. Here, we report that targeting 14-3-3 by R18 effectively induced significant apoptosis in Ba/F3 and K562 cells expressing BCR-ABL, similarly through liberation and reactivation of FOXO3a. Moreover, R18 sensitized BCR-ABL-transformed cells to inhibition with MEK1 inhibitor U0126, Bcl-2 inhibitor GX15-070, or mTOR inhibitor rapamycin. Treatment with these reagents potentiated R18-induced reactivation of proapoptotic FOXO3a with enhanced expression of downstream transcription targets p27(kip1) and Bim1. Furthermore, R18-induced apoptotic cell death in cells expressing diverse imatinib-resistant BCR-ABL mutants, including T315I. This inhibition was enhanced by R18 in combination with U0126 and rapamycin. Thus, our findings suggest that targeting 14-3-3 may potentiate the effects of conventional therapy for BCR-ABL-associated hematopoietic malignancies, and overcome drug resistance.

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