Pim-1 Kinase Phosphorylates and Stabilizes 130 kDa FLT3 and Promotes Aberrant STAT5 Signaling in Acute Myeloid Leukemia with FLT3 Internal Tandem Duplication

Karthika Natarajan, Yingqiu Xie, Mehmet Burcu, Douglas E. Linn, Yun Qiu, Maria R. Baer

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33 Citations (Scopus)


The type III receptor tyrosine kinase fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is expressed on both normal hematopoietic stem cells and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells and regulates their proliferation. Internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutation of FLT3 is present in a third of AML cases, results in constitutive activation and aberrant signaling of FLT3, and is associated with adverse treatment outcomes. While wild-type (WT) FLT3 is predominantly a 150 kDa complex glycosylated cell surface protein, FLT3-ITD is partially retained in the endoplasmic reticulum as a 130 kDa underglycosylated species associated with the chaperones calnexin and heat shock protein (HSP) 90, and mediates aberrant STAT5 signaling, which upregulates the oncogenic serine/threonine kinase Pim-1. FLT3 contains a Pim-1 substrate consensus serine phosphorylation site, and we hypothesized that it might be a Pim-1 substrate. Pim-1 was indeed found to directly interact with and serine-phosphorylate FLT3. Pim-1 inhibition decreased the expression and half-life of 130 kDa FLT3, with partial abrogation by proteasome inhibition, in association with decreased FLT3 binding to calnexin and HSP90, and increased 150 kDa FLT3 expression and half-life, with abrogation by inhibition of glycosylation. These findings were consistent with Pim-1 stabilizing FLT3-ITD as a 130 kDa species associated with calnexin and HSP90 and inhibiting its glycosylation to form the 150 kDa species. Pim-1 knockdown effects were similar. Pim-1 inhibition also decreased phosphorylation of FLT3 at tyrosine 591 and of STAT5, and expression of Pim-1 itself, consistent with inhibition of the FLT3-ITD-STAT5 signaling pathway. Finally, Pim-1 inhibition synergized with FLT3 inhibition in inducing apoptosis of FLT3-ITD cells. This is, to our knowledge, the first demonstration of a role of Pim-1 in a positive feedback loop promoting aberrant signaling in malignant cells.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere74653
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 5 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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