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Hematology - Oncology

Constitutive MAP Kinase Activation in Hematopoietic Stem Cells Induces a Myeloproliferative Disorder
Published: Friday, December 02, 2011
Author: Eva Chung et al.

by Eva Chung, Chia-Lin Hsu, Motonari Kondo

Myelodysplastic syndromes/myeloproliferative neoplasms (MDS/MPNs) are a group of myeloid neoplasms in which abnormal activation of the Ras signaling pathway is commonly observed. The PI3K/Akt pathway is a known target of Ras; however, activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway has been shown to lead to neoplastic transformation of not only myeloid but also lymphoid cells, suggesting that pathways other than the PI3K/Akt pathway should play a central role in pathogenesis of Ras-mediated MDS/MPN. The MEK/ERK pathway is another downstream target of Ras, which is involved in regulation of cell survival and proliferation. However, the role of the MEK/ERK pathway in the pathogenesis of MDS/MPN remains unclear. Here, we show that introduction of a constitutively activated form of MEK into hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) causes hematopoietic neoplasms that are limited to MDS/MPNs, despite the multipotent differentiation potential of HSCs. Active MEK-mediated MDS/MPNs are lethal, but are not considered a frank leukemia because it cannot be transplanted into naïve animals. However, transplantation of MDS/MPNs co-expressing active MEK and an anti-apoptotic molecule, Bcl-2, results in T-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia (T-ALL), suggesting that longevity of cells may impact transplantability and alter disease phenotype. Our results clearly demonstrate the proto-oncogenic property of the MEK/ERK pathway in hematopoietic cells, which manifest in MDS/MPN development.