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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Apr 1;94(7):3076-81.

A proliferation switch for genetically modified cells.

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  • 1Division of Hematology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Receptor dimerization is the key signaling event for many cytokines, including erythropoietin. A system has been recently developed that permits intracellular protein dimerization to be reversibly activated in response to a lipid-soluble dimeric form of the drug FK506, called FK1012. FK1012 is used as a pharmacological mediator of dimerization to bring together FK506 binding domains, taken from the endogenous protein FKBP12. In experiments reported herein, FK1012-induced dimerization of a fusion protein containing the intracellular portion of the erythropoietin receptor allowed cells normally dependent on interleukin 3 to proliferate in its absence. FK506 competitively reversed the proliferative effect of FK1012 but had no influence on the proliferative effect of interleukin 3. Signaling pathways activated by FK1012 mimicked those activated by erythropoietin, because both JAK2 and STAT5 were phosphorylated in response to FK1012. This approach may provide a means to specifically and reversibly stimulate the proliferation of genetically modified cell populations in vitro or in vivo.

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