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Blood. 2012 Feb 23;119(8):1904-14. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-06-361691. Epub 2011 Dec 29.

Activation of stress response gene SIRT1 by BCR-ABL promotes leukemogenesis.

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Department of Cancer Biology, Beckman Research Institute, City of Hope, Duarte, CA, USA.


The tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib is highly effective in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), but primary and acquired resistance of CML cells to the drug offset its efficacy. Molecular mechanisms for resistance of CML to tyrosine kinase inhibitors are not fully understood. In the present study, we show that BCR-ABL activates the expression of the mammalian stress response gene SIRT1 in hematopoietic progenitor cells and that this involves STAT5 signaling. SIRT1 activation promotes CML cell survival and proliferation associated with deacetylation of multiple SIRT1 substrates, including FOXO1, p53, and Ku70. Imatinib-mediated inhibition of BCR-ABL kinase activity partially reduces SIRT1 expression and SIRT1 inhibition further sensitizes CML cells to imatinib-induced apoptosis. Knockout of SIRT1 suppresses BCR-ABL transformation of mouse BM cells and the development of a CML-like myeloproliferative disease, and treatment of mice with the SIRT1 inhibitor tenovin-6 deters disease progression. The combination of SIRT1 gene knockout and imatinib treatment further extends the survival of CML mice. Our results suggest that SIRT1 is a novel survival pathway activated by BCR-ABL expression in hematopoietic progenitor cells, which promotes oncogenic transformation and leukemogenesis. Our findings suggest further exploration of SIRT1 as a therapeutic target for CML treatment to overcome resistance.

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