Oncogenic addiction to the Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is a hallmark of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that harbors the FLT3–internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD) mutation. While FLT3 inhibitors like sorafenib show initial therapeutic efficacy, resistance rapidly develops through mechanisms that are incompletely understood. Here, we used RNA-Seq–based analysis of patient leukemic cells and found that upregulation of the Tec family kinase BMX occurs during sorafenib resistance. This upregulation was recapitulated in an in vivo murine FLT3-ITD–positive (FLT3-ITD+) model of sorafenib resistance. Mechanistically, the antiangiogenic effects of sorafenib led to increased bone marrow hypoxia, which contributed to HIF-dependent BMX upregulation. In in vitro experiments, hypoxia-dependent BMX upregulation was observed in both AML and non-AML cell lines. Functional studies in human FLT3-ITD+ cell lines showed that BMX is part of a compensatory signaling mechanism that promotes AML cell survival during FLT3 inhibition. Taken together, our results demonstrate that hypoxia-dependent upregulation of BMX contributes to therapeutic resistance through a compensatory prosurvival signaling mechanism. These results also reveal the role of off-target drug effects on tumor microenvironment and development of acquired drug resistance. We propose that the bone marrow niche can be altered by anticancer therapeutics, resulting in drug resistance through cell-nonautonomous microenvironment-dependent effects.
Jolieke G. van Oosterwijk, Daelynn R. Buelow, Christina D. Drenberg, Aksana Vasilyeva, Lie Li, Lei Shi, Yong-Dong Wang, David Finkelstein, Sheila A. Shurtleff, Laura J. Janke, Stanley Pounds, Jeffrey E. Rubnitz, Hiroto Inaba, Navjotsingh Pabla, Sharyn D. Baker
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.