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Cholesterol esterification inhibition and imatinib treatment synergistically inhibit growth of BCR-ABL mutation-independent resistant chronic myelogenous leukemia

Bandyopadhyay, S., Li, J., Traer, E. et al.

Since the advent of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) such as imatinib, nilotinib, and dasatinib, chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) prognosis has improved greatly. However, ~30–40% of patients develop resistance to imatinib therapy. Although most resistance is caused by mutations in the BCR-ABL kinase domain, 50–85% of these patients develop resistance in the absence of new mutations. In these cases, targeting other pathways may be needed to regain clinical response. Using label-free Raman spectromicroscopy, we evaluated a number of leukemia cell lines and discovered an aberrant accumulation of cholesteryl ester (CE) in CML, which was found to be a result of BCR-ABL kinase activity. CE accumulation in CML was found to be a cancer-specific phenomenon as untransformed cells did not accumulate CE. Blocking cholesterol esterification with avasimibe, a potent inhibitor of acyl-CoA cholesterol acyltransferase 1 (ACAT-1), significantly suppressed CML cell proliferation in Ba/F3 cells with the BCR-ABLT315I mutation and in K562 cells rendered imatinib resistant without mutations in the BCR-ABL kinase domain (K562R cells). Furthermore, the combination of avasimibe and imatinib caused a profound synergistic inhibition of cell proliferation in K562R cells, but not in Ba/F3T315I. This synergistic effect was confirmed in a K562R xenograft mouse model. Analysis of primary cells from a BCR-ABL mutation-independent imatinib resistant patient by mass cytometry suggested that the synergy may be due to downregulation of the MAPK pathway by avasimibe, which sensitized the CML cells to imatinib treatment. Collectively, these data demonstrate a novel strategy for overcoming BCR-ABL mutation-independent TKI resistance in CML.

Citation

Bandyopadhyay, S., Li, J., Traer, E. et al. "Cholesterol esterification inhibition and imatinib treatment synergistically inhibit growth of BCR-ABL mutation-independent resistant chronic myelogenous leukemia" PLoS One (2017): e0179558