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Blood. 2011 Jul 21;118(3):693-702. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-12-323022. Epub 2011 May 31.

Mechanisms of cytotoxicity to Pim kinase inhibitor, SGI-1776, in acute myeloid leukemia.

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Department of Experimental Therapeutics, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030-4009, USA.


Pim kinases are Ser/Thr kinases with multiple substrates that affect survival pathways. These proteins are overexpressed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) blasts and we hypothesized that Pim kinase inhibition would affect AML cell survival. Imidazo[1,2-b]pyridazine compound, SGI-1776 inhibits Pim-1, Pim-2 and Pim-3, and was evaluated in AML-cell line, -xenograft model, and -primary blasts. Treatment of AML cells with SGI-1776 results in a concentration-dependent induction of apoptosis and we investigated its effect on Pim kinase functions. Phosphorylation of traditional Pim kinase targets, c-Myc(Ser62) and 4E-BP1 (Thr36/Thr47), were both decreased in actively cycling AML cell lines MV-4-11, MOLM-13 and OCI-AML-3. Levels of antiapoptotic proteins Bcl-2, Bcl-x(L), XIAP, and proapoptotic Bak and Bax were unchanged; however, a significant reduction in Mcl-1 was observed. This was correlated with inhibition of global RNA and protein synthesis and MCL-1 transcript decline after SGI-1776 treatment. These data suggest that SGI-1776 mechanism in AML involves Mcl-1 protein reduction. Consistent with cell line data, xenograft model studies with mice bearing MV-4-11 tumors showed efficacy with SGI-1776. Importantly, SGI-1776 was also cytotoxic in AML primary cells, irrespective of FLT3 mutation status and resulted in Mcl-1 protein decline. Pim kinase inhibition may be a new strategy for AML treatment.

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