Oncogenic transformation of hematopoietic stem cells by chimeric fusion kinases causing constitutive activation of FGFR1 leads to a stem cell leukemia/lymphoma (SCLL) syndrome, accompanied by widespread dysregulation of gene activity. We now show that FGFR1 activation is associated with upregulation of MYC and pharmacological suppression of FGFR1 activation leads to downregulation of MYC and suppression of MYC target genes. Luciferase reporter assays demonstrate that FGFR1 can directly regulate MYC expression and this effect is enhanced in the presence of chimeric FGFR1 kinases. In SCLL cells, a truncated form of FGFR1 is generated by granzyme B cleavage of the chimeric kinases, producing a nucleus-restricted derivative that can bind MYC regulatory regions. Mutation of the granzyme B cleavage site prevents relocation to the nucleus but does not suppress MYC activation, suggesting additional mechanisms of MYC activation in the presence of cytoplasm-restricted chimeric kinases. We show that one of these mechanisms involves activating cytoplasmic STAT5, which upregulates MYC independent of the truncated FGFR1 kinase. Targeting MYC function using shRNA knockdown and 10054-F8 in SCLL cells leads to inhibition of cell proliferation and synergizes with the BGJ398 FGFR1 inhibitor, suggesting a combination therapy that could be used in the treatment of SCLL.
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This work was supported by grant CA076167 from the National Institutes of Health.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.