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J Clin Invest. 1988 Jan;81(1):32-8.

Phorbol ester restores L-system amino acid transport of B lymphocytes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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Department of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York 14642.


L (leucine-favoring)-system amino acid transport is uniquely and selectively diminished in chronic lymphocytic leukemia B lymphocytes: the maximal velocity of transport is 10% of normal B lymphocytes. We examined L-system transport in chronic leukemic B lymphocytes after incubation with tetradecanoyl phorbol acetate to determine if the transport abnormality can be corrected by the apparent cell maturation induced by this agent. Amino acid uptake was measured using 2-amino-2-carboxy-bicycloheptane, an L-system specific synthetic amino acid. Marked enhancement of L-system transport occurred in each of 12 leukemic cell populations; the initial velocity of transport in phorbol ester-treated cells increased 8-fold and 14-fold at 16 and 40 h, respectively, compared with untreated cells. The Vmax of the L-system in phorbol ester-treated leukemic cells was similar to that of phorbol ester-treated normal B lymphocytes. The L-system enhancement of the leukemic cells paralleled the development of plasmacytoid features at 40 h. Uptake of leucine, a naturally occurring L-system amino acid, was also increased by tetradecanoyl phorbol acetate. Cycloheximide, 100 micrograms/ml, which inhibited over 90% of protein synthesis in phorbol ester-treated chronic leukemic cells, blocked completely the phorbol ester-induced L-system enhancement. Phorbol ester treatment restores the selective L-system transport defect in chronic lymphocytic leukemia B lymphocytes, and this process coincides with in vitro maturation of the leukemic cells.

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