PTEN is indispensable for cells to respond to MAPK inhibitors in myeloid leukemia

Jingliao Zhang, Zhifu Xiang, Priyangi A. Malaviarachchi, Yan Yan, Nicholas J. Baltz, Peter D. Emanuel, Y. Lucy Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Constitutively activated MAPK and AKT signaling pathways are often found in solid tumors and leukemias. PTEN is one of the tumor suppressors that are frequently found deficient in patients with late-stage cancers or leukemias. In this study we demonstrate that a MAPK inhibitor, PD98059, inhibits both AKT and ERK phosphorylation in a human myeloid leukemia cell line (TF-1), but not in PTEN-deficient leukemia cells (TF-1a). Ectopic expression of wild-type PTEN in myeloid leukemia cells restored cytokine responsiveness at physiological concentrations of GM-CSF (<0.02 ng/mL) and significantly improved cell sensitivity to MAPK inhibitor. We also found that Early Growth Response 1 (EGR1) was constitutively over-expressed in cytokine-independent TF-1a cells, and ectopic expression of PTEN down-regulated EGR1 expression and restored dynamics of EGR1 expression in response to GM-CSF stimulation. Data from primary bone marrow cells from mice with Pten deletion further supports that PTEN is indispensible for myeloid leukemia cells in response to MAPK inhibitors. Finally, We demonstrate that the absence of EGR1 expression dynamics in response to GM-CSF stimulation is one of the mechanisms underlying drug resistance to MAPK inhibitors in leukemia cells with PTEN deficiency. Our data suggest a novel mechanism of PTEN in regulating expression of EGR1 in hematopoietic cells in response to cytokine stimulation. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that PTEN is dispensable for myeloid leukemia cells in response to MAPK inhibitors, and PTEN regulates EGR1 expression and contributes to the cytokine sensitivity in leukemia cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
JournalCellular Signalling
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Cytokine sensitivity
  • Drug resistance
  • EGR1
  • Leukemia
  • MAPK inhibitors
  • PTEN


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