Research ArticleCancer

A MEK Inhibitor Abrogates Myeloproliferative Disease in Kras Mutant Mice

Science Translational Medicine  30 Mar 2011:
Vol. 3, Issue 76, pp. 76ra27
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001069

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Chronic and juvenile myelomonocytic leukemias (CMML and JMML) are aggressive myeloproliferative neoplasms that are incurable with conventional chemotherapy. Mutations that deregulate Ras signaling play a central pathogenic role in both disorders, and Mx1-Cre, KrasLSL-G12D mice that express the Kras oncogene develop a fatal disease that closely mimics these two leukemias in humans. Activated Ras controls multiple downstream effectors, but the specific pathways that mediate the leukemogenic effects of hyperactive Ras are unknown. We used PD0325901, a highly selective pharmacological inhibitor of mitogen-activated or extracellular signal–regulated protein kinase kinase (MEK), a downstream component of the Ras signaling network, to address how deregulated Raf/MEK/ERK (extracellular signal–regulated kinase) signaling drives neoplasia in Mx1-Cre, KrasLSL-G12D mice. PD0325901 treatment induced a rapid and sustained reduction in leukocyte counts, enhanced erythropoiesis, prolonged mouse survival, and corrected the aberrant proliferation and differentiation of bone marrow progenitor cells. These responses were due to direct effects of PD0325901 on Kras mutant cells rather than to stimulation of normal hematopoietic cell proliferation. Consistent with the in vivo response, inhibition of MEK reversed the cytokine hypersensitivity characteristic of KrasG12D hematopoietic progenitor cells in vitro. Our data demonstrate that deregulated Raf/MEK/ERK signaling is integral to the growth of Kras-mediated myeloproliferative neoplasms and further suggest that MEK inhibition could be a useful way to ameliorate functional hematologic abnormalities in patients with CMML and JMML.

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