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Leukemia. 2011 Jul;25(7):1159-67. doi: 10.1038/leu.2011.67. Epub 2011 Apr 12.

The MEK inhibitor PD184352 enhances BMS-214662-induced apoptosis in CD34+ CML stem/progenitor cells.

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Paul O'Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.


The cytotoxic farnesyl transferase inhibitor BMS-214662 has been shown to potently induce mitochondrial apoptosis in primitive CD34+ chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) stem/progenitor cells. Here, to enhance the BMS-214662 apoptotic effect, we further targeted the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway, downstream of BCR-ABL, by treating CD34+ CML stem/progenitor cells with a highly selective adenosine triphosphate (ATP) non-competitive MEK inhibitor, PD184352. PD184352 increased the apoptotic effect of BMS-214662 in a CML blast crisis cell line, K562, and in primary chronic phase CD34+ CML cells. Compared with BMS-214662, after combination treatment we observed inhibition of ERK phosphorylation, increased Annexin-V levels, caspase-3, -8 and -9 activation and potentiated mitochondrial damage, associated with decreased levels of anti-apoptotic BCL-2 family protein MCL-1. Inhibition of K-RAS function by a dominant-negative mutant resulted in CML cell death and this process was further enhanced by the addition of BMS-214662 and PD184352. Together, these findings suggest that the addition of a MEK inhibitor improves the ability of BMS-214662 to selectively target CML stem/progenitor cells, notoriously insensitive to tyrosine kinase inhibitor treatment and presumed to be responsible for the persistence and relapse of the disease.

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