Pharmacologic inhibition of CDK4/6: mechanistic evidence for selective activity or acquired resistance in acute myeloid leukemia

Lisheng Wang, Jie Wang, Bradley W. Blaser, Anne-Marie Duchemin, Donna F. Kusewitt, Tom Liu, Michael A. Caligiuri and Roger Briesewitz


Entry into the cell cycle is mediated by cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) activation, followed by CDK2 activation. We found that pharmacologic inhibition of the Flt3 internal tandem duplication (ITD), a mutated receptor tyrosine kinase commonly found in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), led to the down-regulation of cyclin D2 and D3 followed by retinoblastoma protein (pRb) dephosphorylation and G1 cell-cycle arrest. This implicated the D-cyclin-CDK4/6 complex as a downstream effector of Flt3 ITD signaling. Indeed, single-agent PD0332991, a selective CDK4/6 inhibitor, caused sustained cell-cycle arrest in Flt3 ITD AML cell lines and prolonged survival in an in vivo model of Flt3 ITD AML. PD0332991 caused an initial cell-cycle arrest in well-established Flt3 wild-type (wt) AML cell lines, but this was overcome by down-regulation of p27Kip and reactivation of CDK2. This acquired resistance was not observed in a Flt3 ITD and a Flt3 wt sample from a patient with primary AML. In summary, the mechanism of cell-cycle arrest after treatment of Flt3 ITD AML with a Flt3 inhibitor involves down-regulation of cyclin D2 and D3. As such, CDK4/6 can be a therapeutic target in Flt3 ITD AML but also in primary Flt3 wt AML. Finally, acquired resistance to CDK4/6 inhibition can arise through activation CDK2.

  • Submitted February 1, 2007.
  • Accepted May 24, 2007.
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