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J Exp Med. 2013 Apr 8;210(4):647-53. doi: 10.1084/jem.20122337. Epub 2013 Mar 18.

Uncoupling RARA transcriptional activation and degradation clarifies the bases for APL response to therapies.

Author information

1
Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, France.

Abstract

In PML/RARA-driven acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), retinoic acid (RA) induces leukemia cell differentiation and transiently clears the disease. Molecularly, RA activates PML/RARA-dependent transcription and also initiates its proteasome-mediated degradation. In contrast, arsenic, the other potent anti-APL therapy, only induces PML/RARA degradation by specifically targeting its PML moiety. The respective contributions of RA-triggered transcriptional activation and proteolysis to clinical response remain disputed. Here, we identify synthetic retinoids that potently activate RARA- or PML/RARA-dependent transcription, but fail to down-regulate RARA or PML/RARA protein levels. Similar to RA, these uncoupled retinoids elicit terminal differentiation, but unexpectedly fail to impair leukemia-initiating activity of PML/RARA-transformed cells ex vivo or in vivo. Accordingly, the survival benefit conferred by uncoupled retinoids in APL mice is dramatically lower than the one provided by RA. Differentiated APL blasts sorted from uncoupled retinoid-treated mice retain PML/RARA expression and reinitiate APL in secondary transplants. Thus, differentiation is insufficient for APL eradication, whereas PML/RARA loss is essential. These observations unify the modes of action of RA and arsenic and shed light on the potency of their combination in mice or patients.

PMID:
23509325
PMCID:
PMC3620357
DOI:
10.1084/jem.20122337
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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