Original Article

Silencing AML1-ETO gene expression leads to simultaneous activation of both pro-apoptotic and proliferation signaling

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Abstract

The t(8;21)(q22;q22) rearrangement represents the most common chromosomal translocation in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). It results in a transcript encoding for the fusion protein AML1-ETO (AE) with transcription factor activity. AE is considered to be an attractive target for treating t(8;21) leukemia. However, AE expression alone is insufficient to cause transformation, and thus the potential of such therapy remains unclear. Several genes are deregulated in AML cells, including KIT that encodes a tyrosine kinase receptor. Here, we show that AML cells transduced with short hairpin RNA vector targeting AE mRNAs have a dramatic decrease in growth rate that is caused by induction of apoptosis and deregulation of the cell cycle. A reduction in KIT mRNA levels was also observed in AE-silenced cells, but silencing KIT expression reduced cell growth but did not induce apoptosis. Transcription profiling of cells that escape cell death revealed activation of a number of signaling pathways involved in cell survival and proliferation. In particular, we find that the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK2; also known as mitogen-activated protein kinase 1 (MAPK1)) protein could mediate activation of 23 out of 29 (79%) of these upregulated pathways and thus may be regarded as the key player in establishing the t(8;21)-positive leukemic cells resistant to AE suppression.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Programs of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences: ‘Molecular and Cell Biology’, ‘Fundamental Research Basics in Nanotechnology and Nanomaterials’, ‘Dynamics and Conservation of Genomes’ and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (grant nos. 13-04-00599-a, 14-04-00821-a, 14-04-32108, 12-0433094 and 10-04-00593-a). We thank ‘UMA Foundation’ for their support in preparation of the manuscript.

Author information

Author notes

    • P V Spirin
    • , T D Lebedev
    •  & N N Orlova

    These three authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

    • P V Spirin
    • , T D Lebedev
    • , N N Orlova
    • , A S Gornostaeva
    • , M M Prokofjeva
    • , N A Nikitenko
    • , S E Dmitriev
    • , P M Rubtsov
    •  & V S Prassolov
  2. Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Dolgoprudny, Russia

    • N N Orlova
    • , A S Gornostaeva
    •  & V S Prassolov
  3. Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

    • S E Dmitriev
  4. Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Moscow, Russia

    • A A Buzdin
    •  & A M Aliper
  5. D Rogachyov Federal Research Center of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology, Moscow, Russia

    • A A Buzdin
    • , N M Borisov
    • , A M Aliper
    •  & A V Garazha
  6. Pathway Pharmaceuticals Limited, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

    • A A Buzdin
    • , N M Borisov
    •  & A V Garazha
  7. Heinrich Pette Institute, Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology, Hamburg, Germany

    • C Stocking

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Competing interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to V S Prassolov.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information accompanies this paper on the Leukemia website (http://www.nature.com/leu)