Pre-apoptotic response to therapeutic DNA damage involves protein modulation of Mcl-1, Hdm2 and Flt3 in acute myeloid leukemia cells
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells are characterized by non-mutated TP53, high levels of Hdm2, and frequent mutation of the Flt3 receptor tyrosine kinase. The juxtamembrane mutation of FLT3 is the strongest independent marker for disease relapse and is associated with elevated Bcl-2 protein and p53 hyper-phosphorylation in AML. DNA damage forms the basic mechanism of cancer cell eradication in current therapy of AML. Hdm2 and pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 members are among the most intensely induced genes immediately after chemotherapy and Hdm2 is proposed a role in receptor tyrosine kinase regulation. Thus we examined the DNA damage related modulation of these proteins in relation to FLT3 mutational status and induction of apoptosis. Results: Within one hour after exposure to ionizing radiation (IR), the AML cells (NB4, MV4-11, HL-60, primary AML cells) showed an increase in Flt3 protein independent of mRNA levels, while the Hdm2 protein decreased. The FLT3 mutant MV4-11 cells were resistant to IR accompanied by presence of both Mcl-1 and Hdm2 protein three hours after IR. In contrast, the FLT3 wild type NB4 cells responded to IR with apoptosis and pre-apoptotic Mcl-1 down regulation. Daunorubicin (DNR) induced continuing down regulation of Hdm2 and Mcl-1 in both cell lines followed by apoptosis. Conclusion: Both IR and DNR treatment resulted in concerted protein modulations of Mcl-1, Hdm2 and Flt3. Cell death induction was associated with persistent attenuation of Mcl-1 and Hdm2. These observations suggest that defining the pathway(s) modulating Flt3, Hdm2 and Mcl-1 may propose new strategies to optimize therapy for the relapse prone FLT3 mutated AML patients.