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Mol Cell Biol. 1995 October; 15(10): 5531–5541.
PMCID: PMC230804

Structural and signaling requirements for BCR-ABL-mediated transformation and inhibition of apoptosis.

Abstract

BCR-ABL is a deregulated tyrosine kinase expressed in Philadelphia chromosome-positive human leukemias. Prolongation of hematopoietic cell survival by inhibition of apoptosis has been proposed to be an integral component of BCR-ABL-induced chronic myelogenous leukemia. BCR-ABL elicits transformation of both fibroblast and hematopoietic cells and blocks apoptosis following cytokine deprivation in various factor-dependent cells. To elucidate the mechanisms whereby BCR-ABL induces transformation and blocks apoptosis in hematopoietic cells, we examined the biological effects of expression of a series of BCR-ABL mutants. Single amino acid substitutions in the GRB2 binding site (Y177F), Src homology 2 domain (R552L), or an autophosphorylation site in the tyrosine kinase domain (Y793F) do not diminish the antiapoptotic and transforming properties of BCR-ABL in hematopoietic cells, although these mutations were previously shown to drastically reduce the transforming activity of BCR-ABL in fibroblasts. A BCR-ABL molecule containing all three mutations (Y177F/R552L/Y793F) exhibits a severe decrease in transforming and antiapoptotic activities compared with the wild-type BCR-ABL protein in 32D myeloid progenitor cells. Ras is activated, the SHC adapter protein is tyrosine phosphorylated and binds GRB2, and myc mRNA levels are increased following expression of all kinase active BCR-ABL proteins with the exception of the Y177F/R552L/Y793F BCR-ABL mutant in 32D cells. We propose that BCR-ABL uses multiple pathways to activate Ras in hematopoietic cells and that this activation is necessary for the transforming and antiapoptotic activities of BCR-ABL. However, Ras activation is not sufficient for BCR-ABL-mediated transformation. A BCR-ABL deletion mutant (delta 176-427) that activates Ras and blocks apoptosis but has severely impaired transforming ability in 32D cells has been identified. These data suggest that BCR-ABL requires additional signaling components to elicit tumorigenic growth which are distinct from those required to block apoptosis.

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