Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

New insights into the mechanisms of hematopoietic cell transformation by activated receptor tyrosine kinases

  1. Federica Toffalini1 and
  2. Jean-Baptiste Demoulin1
  1. 1Université catholique de Louvain, de Duve Institute, Brussels, Belgium

Abstract

A large number of alterations in genes encoding receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK), namely FLT3, c-KIT, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptors, fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptors, and the anaplastic large cell lymphoma kinase (ALK), have been found in hematopoietic malignancies. They have drawn much attention after the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors. RTK gene alterations include point mutations and gene fusions that result from chromosomal rearrangements. In both cases, they activate the kinase domain in the absence of ligand, producing a permanent signal for cell proliferation. Recently, this simple model has been refined. First, by contrast to wild-type RTK, many mutated RTK do not seem to signal from the plasma membrane, but from various locations inside the cell. Second, their signal transduction properties are altered: the pathways that are crucial for cell transformation, such as signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) factors, do not necessarily contribute to the physiologic functions of these receptors. Finally, different mechanisms prevent the termination of the signal, which normally occurs through receptor ubiquitination and degradation. Several mutations inactivating CBL, a key RTK E3 ubiquitin ligase, have been recently described. In this review, we discuss the possible links among RTK trafficking, signaling, and degradation in leukemic cells.

  • Submitted April 13, 2010.
  • Accepted June 10, 2010.
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