Research Papers:

Co-expression of wild-type FLT3 attenuates the inhibitory effect of FLT3 inhibitor on FLT3 mutated leukemia cells

Fangli Chen, Yuichi Ishikawa _, Akimi Akashi, Tomoki Naoe and Hitoshi Kiyoi

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:47018-47032. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10147

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Fangli Chen1, Yuichi Ishikawa1, Akimi Akashi1, Tomoki Naoe2 and Hitoshi Kiyoi1

1 Department of Hematology and Oncology, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan

Department of Hematology/Oncology Research, National Hospital Organization, Nagoya Medical Center, Nagoya, Japan

Correspondence to:

Yuichi Ishikawa, email:

Keywords: AML, FLT3 inhibitor, resistance, Wt-FLT3, FLT3 ligand

Received: May 11, 2016 Accepted: June 09, 2016 Published: June 17, 2016


FLT3 mutation is found in about 30% of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients and is associated with a poor prognosis. Several FLT3 inhibitors are undergoing investigation, while their clinical efficacies were lower than expected and several resistant mechanisms to FLT3 inhibitors have been demonstrated. Although most AML cells harboring FLT3 mutation co-express wild-type (Wt)-FLT3, it is not fully understood how Wt-FLT3 expression is associated with the resistance to FLT3 inhibitors. In this study, we elucidated a resistant mechanism by which FL-dependent Wt-FLT3 activation reduced inhibitory effects of FLT3 inhibitors. We demonstrated that FL-stimulation much more strongly reduced growth inhibitory effects of FLT3 inhibitors on Wt- and mutant-FLT3 co-expressing cells than sole mutant-FLT3 expressing cells both in vitro and in vivo. It was also confirmed that FL impaired the anti-leukemia effects of FLT3 inhibitors on primary AML cells. We elucidated that FL impeded the inhibitory effects of FLT3 inhibitors mainly through the activation of Wt-FLT3, but not mutated FLT3, in the Wt- and ITD-FLT3 co-expressing cells. Furthermore, FL-induced activation of Wt-FLT3-MAPK axis was the dominant pathway for the resistance, and the glycosylation of Wt-FLT3 was also vital for FL-dependent kinase activation and following resistance to FLT3 inhibitors. Thus, we clarified the importance of co-expressing Wt-FLT3 in resistance to FLT3 inhibitors. These findings provide us with important implications for clinical application and new strategies to improve clinical outcomes of FLT3 inhibitors.

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