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Cell Stem Cell. 2012 Apr 6;10(4):412-24. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2012.02.017.

Genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of β-catenin targets imatinib-resistant leukemia stem cells in CML.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


A key characteristic of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is the ability to self-renew. Genetic deletion of β-catenin during fetal HSC development leads to impairment of self-renewal while β-catenin is dispensable in fully developed adult HSCs. Whether β-catenin is required for maintenance of fully developed CML leukemia stem cells (LSCs) is unknown. Here, we use a conditional mouse model to show that deletion of β-catenin after CML initiation does not lead to a significant increase in survival. However, deletion of β-catenin synergizes with imatinib (IM) to delay disease recurrence after imatinib discontinuation and to abrogate CML stem cells. These effects can be mimicked by pharmacologic inhibition of β-catenin via modulation of prostaglandin signaling. Treatment with the cyclooxygenase inhibitor indomethacin reduces β-catenin levels and leads to a reduction in LSCs. In conclusion, inhibiting β-catenin by genetic inactivation or pharmacologic modulation is an effective combination therapy with imatinib and targets CML stem cells.

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