Rho kinase regulates the survival and transformation of cells bearing oncogenic forms of KIT, FLT3, and BCR-ABL

Mali, R. S.; Ramdas, B.; Ma, P.; Shi, J.; Munugalavadla, V.; Sims, E.; Wei, L.; Vemula, S.; Nabinger, S. C.; Goodwin, C. B.; Chan, R. J.; Traina, F.; Visconte, V.; Tiu, R. V.; Lewis, T. A.; Stern, A. M.; Wen, Q.; Crispino, J. D.; Boswell, H. S.; Kapur, R.

Cancer Cell. 2011 Sep 13; 20(3):357-69


We show constitutive activation of Rho kinase (ROCK) in cells bearing oncogenic forms of KIT, FLT3, and BCR-ABL, which is dependent on PI3K and Rho GTPase. Genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of ROCK in oncogene-bearing cells impaired their growth as well as the growth of acute myeloid leukemia patient-derived blasts and prolonged the life span of mice bearing myeloproliferative disease. Downstream from ROCK, rapid dephosphorylation or loss of expression of myosin light chain resulted in enhanced apoptosis, reduced growth, and loss of actin polymerization in oncogene-bearing cells leading to significantly prolonged life span of leukemic mice. In summary we describe a pathway involving PI3K/Rho/ROCK/MLC that may contribute to myeloproliferative disease and/or acute myeloid leukemia in humans.

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