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Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Apr 15;20(8):2051-9. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-0279. Epub 2014 Feb 28.

Molecular pathways: molecular basis for sensitivity and resistance to JAK kinase inhibitors.

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Authors' Affiliations: Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program and Leukemia Service, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.


Janus-activated kinases (JAK) are the mediators of a variety of cytokine signals via their cognate receptors that result in activation of intracellular signaling pathways. Alterations in JAK1, JAK2, JAK3, and TYK2 signaling contribute to different disease states, and dysregulated JAK-STAT signaling is associated with hematologic malignancies, autoimmune disorders, and immune-deficient conditions. Genetic alterations of JAK2 occur in the majority of patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms and occur in a subset of patients with acute leukemias. JAK-mediated signaling critically relies on STAT transcription factors, and on activation of the MAPK and PI3K/Akt signaling axes. Hyperactive JAK at the apex of these potent oncogenic signaling pathways therefore represents an important target for small-molecule kinase inhibitors in different disease states. The JAK1/2 inhibitor ruxolitinib and the JAK3 inhibitor tofacitinib were recently approved for the treatment of myelofibrosis and rheumatoid arthritis, respectively, and additional ATP-competitive JAK inhibitors are in clinical development. Although these agents show clinical activity, the ability of these JAK inhibitors to induce clinical/molecular remissions in hematologic malignancies seems limited and resistance upon chronic drug exposure is seen. Alternative modes of targeting JAK2 such as allosteric kinase inhibition or HSP90 inhibition are under evaluation, as is the use of histone deacetylase inhibitors. Combination therapy approaches integrating inhibition of STAT, PI3K/Akt, and MAPK pathways with JAK kinase inhibitors might be critical to overcome malignancies characterized by dysregulated JAK signaling.

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