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Leukemia. 2011 Feb;25(2):290-300. doi: 10.1038/leu.2010.268. Epub 2010 Nov 19.

ABL fusion oncogene transformation and inhibitor sensitivity are mediated by the cellular regulator RIN1.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Molecular Biology Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


ABL gene translocations create constitutively active tyrosine kinases that are causative in chronic myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia and other hematopoietic malignancies. Consistent retention of ABL SH3/SH2 autoinhibitory domains, however, suggests that these leukemogenic tyrosine kinase fusion proteins remain subject to regulation. We resolve this paradox, demonstrating that BCR-ABL1 kinase activity is regulated by RIN1, an ABL SH3/SH2 binding protein. BCR-ABL1 activity was increased by RIN1 overexpression and decreased by RIN1 silencing. Moreover, Rin1(-/-) bone marrow cells were not transformed by BCR-ABL1, ETV6-ABL1 or BCR-ABL1(T315I), a patient-derived drug-resistant mutant, as judged by growth factor independence. Rescue by ectopic RIN1 verified a cell autonomous mechanism of collaboration with BCR-ABL1 during transformation. Sensitivity to the ABL kinase inhibitor imatinib was increased by RIN1 silencing, consistent with RIN1 stabilization of an activated BCR-ABL1 conformation having reduced drug affinity. The dependence on activation by RIN1 to unleash full catalytic and cell transformation potential reveals a previously unknown vulnerability that could be exploited for treatment of leukemic cases driven by ABL translocations. The findings suggest that RIN1 targeting could be efficacious for imatinib-resistant disease and might complement ABL kinase inhibitors in first-line therapy.

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