Original Article

Oncogene (2010) 29, 5895–5910; doi:10.1038/onc.2010.331; published online 9 August 2010

The proximal signaling network of the BCR-ABL1 oncogene shows a modular organization

B Titz1, T Low1, E Komisopoulou1, S S Chen1, L Rubbi1 and T G Graeber1

1Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, Institute for Molecular Medicine, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, California NanoSystems Institute, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Correspondence: Professor TG Graeber, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, University of California, Los Angeles, Crump Institute for Molecular Imaging, California Nanosystems Institute, 570 Westwood Plaza Building 114, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7227, USA. E-mail: tgraeber@mednet.ucla.edu

Received 1 May 2010; Revised 30 June 2010; Accepted 1 July 2010; Published online 9 August 2010.



BCR-ABL1 is a fusion tyrosine kinase, which causes multiple types of leukemia. We used an integrated proteomic approach that includes label-free quantitative protein complex and phosphorylation profiling by mass spectrometry to systematically characterize the proximal signaling network of this oncogenic kinase. The proximal BCR-ABL1 signaling network shows a modular and layered organization with an inner core of three leukemia transformation-relevant adaptor protein complexes (Grb2/Gab2/Shc1 complex, CrkI complex and Dok1/Dok2 complex). We introduced an ‘interaction directionality’ analysis, which annotates static protein networks with information on the directionality of phosphorylation-dependent interactions. In this analysis, the observed network structure was consistent with a step-wise phosphorylation-dependent assembly of the Grb2/Gab2/Shc1 and the Dok1/Dok2 complexes on the BCR-ABL1 core. The CrkI complex demonstrated a different directionality, which supports a candidate assembly on the Nedd9 (Hef1, CasL) scaffold. As adaptor protein family members can compensate for each other in leukemic transformation, we compared members of the Dok and Crk protein families and found both overlapping and differential binding patterns. We identified an additional level of regulation for the CrkII protein via binding to 14-3-3 proteins, which was independent from its inhibitory phosphorylation. We also identified novel components of the inner core complexes, including the kinases Pragmin (Sgk223) and Lrrk1 (Lrrk2 paralog). Pragmin was found as a component of the CrkI complex and is a potential link between BCR-ABL1/CrkI and RhoA signaling. Lrrk1 is an unusual kinase with a GTPase domain. We detected Lrrk1 as a component of the Grb2/Gab2/Shc1 complex and found that it functionally interacts with the regulator of small GTPases Arap1 (Centd2) and possibly participates in the mitogen-activated protein kinase response to cellular stresses. This modular and phosphorylation-driven interaction network provides a framework for the integration of pleiotropic signaling effects of BCR-ABL1 toward leukemic transformation.


adaptor protein; BCR-ABL1; phospho-complex; quantitative mass spectrometry; signaling network; systems biology