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Blood. 2010 Jan 28;115(4):824-33. doi: 10.1182/blood-2009-07-233445. Epub 2009 Nov 23.

A small molecule inhibitor of Pim protein kinases blocks the growth of precursor T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma.

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Department of Pediatrics, Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.


The serine/threonine Pim kinases are up-regulated in specific hematologic neoplasms, and play an important role in key signal transduction pathways, including those regulated by MYC, MYCN, FLT3-ITD, BCR-ABL, HOXA9, and EWS fusions. We demonstrate that SMI-4a, a novel benzylidene-thiazolidine-2, 4-dione small molecule inhibitor of the Pim kinases, kills a wide range of both myeloid and lymphoid cell lines with precursor T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (pre-T-LBL/T-ALL) being highly sensitive. Incubation of pre-T-LBL cells with SMI-4a induced G1 phase cell-cycle arrest secondary to a dose-dependent induction of p27(Kip1), apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway, and inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin C1 (mTORC1) pathway based on decreases in phospho-p70 S6K and phospho-4E-BP1, 2 substrates of this enzyme. In addition, treatment of these cells with SMI-4a was found to induce phosphorylation of extracellular signal-related kinase1/2 (ERK1/2), and the combination of SMI-4a and a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 1/2 (MEK1/2) inhibitor was highly synergistic in killing pre-T-LBL cells. In immunodeficient mice carrying subcutaneous pre-T-LBL tumors, treatment twice daily with SMI-4a caused a significant delay in the tumor growth without any change in the weight, blood counts, or chemistries. Our data suggest that inhibition of the Pim protein kinases may be developed as a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of pre-T-LBL.

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