New roles of STAT5 factors in chronic myeloid leukemia cell maintenance

Abstract : The Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is a clonal hematopoietic stem cell disorder characterized by the t(9:22) genetic translocation and expression of the oncogenic tyrosine kinase BCR-ABL . A first BCR-ABL Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI), Imatinib (IM), was identified that inhibits proliferation of BCR-ABL expressing hematopoietic cells and leads to disease remission. However, BCR-ABL mRNA remains detectable in the most immature HSCs and discontinuation of IM results in clinical relapse. STAT5 factors play a crucial role in the CML pathogenesis of human primary CML cells. However, the contribution of the two related STAT5 genes, STAT5A and STAT5B, was unknown. We used an RNAinterference based strategy to analyze STAT5A or STAT5B roles in normal and CML cells. We showed that STAT5A/5B double knock-down (KD) triggers normal and CML cell apoptosis and suppressed long-term clonogenic potential of immature hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells known to be resistant to TKI treatment and responsible for residual disease. STAT5A loss alone was ineffective at impairing growth of both normal and CML cells under standard conditions. In contrast, STAT5A loss was sufficient to enhance Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) which correlated with enhanced DNA damages in both normal and leukemic cells. We reported that STAT5A regulates oxidative stress through unconventional mechanisms, in a non-transcriptional-dependent manner. We further showed that, in contrast to primary cells at diagnosis, IM-resistant cells exhibited enhanced STAT5A dependence, by being sensitive to STAT5A single KD. To investigate the molecular basis of STAT5A activity in TKI-resistance and oxidative stress, we performed a transcriptomic analysis of STAT5 regulated genes. We identified Axl, which encodes a receptor tyrosine kinase, recently shown to be crucial in TKI-resistant CML cells. Specifically, Axl expression is enhanced by STAT5A. We investigated the role of Axl and we found that Axl KD did not affect survival of IM-sensitive CML cells. However, Axl KD decreased survival of IM-resistant cells, miming the activity of STAT5A. Moreover, Axl loss increased ROS levels in CML cells, promoting STAT5A anti-oxidant activity. We further sought to determine the expression of the Axl ligand, Gas6. Gas6 expression is dramatically reduced in CML primary cells at diagnosis compared to healthy cells. The strong and consistent down-regulation of Gas6 in CML cells suggested a possible role in the pathophysiology. Collectively, our findings highlight the pro-survival, stress protection and drug resistance roles of STAT5 factors, providing new understanding for medical treatment of CML patients. We suggest that STAT5A acts in synergy with Axl to face exogenous insults and propose a new mechanism by which CML cells increase their proliferation and reduce their motility by down-regulating Gas6 expression.
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Luana Casetti. New roles of STAT5 factors in chronic myeloid leukemia cell maintenance. Human health and pathology. Université René Descartes - Paris V, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013PA05S018⟩. ⟨tel-00924475⟩

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