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Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 Dec 15;80(12):1936-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2010.07.039. Epub 2010 Aug 7.

Inflammation and survival pathways: chronic lymphocytic leukemia as a model system.

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Department of Experimental Therapeutics, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030-4095, USA.


A primary response to inflammation is an increased survival of the target cell. Several pathways have been identified that promote maintenance of the cell. The principal mechanism for the extended survival is through induction of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins. Bcl-2 was the founding member of this family with five additional members, Bcl-X(L), Bcl-W, Bcl-B, Bfl-1, and Mcl-1, discovered mostly in hematological malignancies. Another mechanism that could add to cell survival is the Pim kinase pathway. This family of enzymes is associated with Myc-driven transcription, cell cycle regulation, degradation of pro-apoptotic proteins, and protein translation. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia serves as an optimal model to understand the mechanism by which these two protein families provide survival advantage to cells. In addition, since this malignancy is known to be maintained by microenvironment milieu, this further adds advantage to investigate mechanisms by which these pro-survival proteins are induced in the presence of stromal support. Multiple mechanisms exists that result in increase in transcript and protein level of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family members. Following these inductions, post-translational modifications occur resulting in increased stability of pro-survival proteins, while Pim-mediated phosphorylation inhibits pro-apoptotic protein activity. Furthermore, there is a cross-talk between these two (Bcl-2 family proteins and Pim family proteins) pathways that co-operate with each other for CLL cell survival and maintenance. Vigorous efforts are being made to create small molecules that affect these proteins directly or indirectly. Several of these pharmacological inhibitors are in early clinical trials for patients with hematological malignancies.

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