Expression of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor- and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor-associated signal transduction proteins of the JAK/STAT pathway in normal granulopoiesis and in blast cells of acute myelogenous leukemia
Biethahn, S.; Alves, F.; Wilde, S.; Hiddemann, W.; Spiekermann, K.
Experimental Hematology 27(5): 885-894
Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is characterized by the malignant transformation of hematopoietic stem cells leading to dysregulated growth and differentiation of myeloid cells. Normally, proliferation and differentiation of myeloid cells are regulated by cytokines such as granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) or granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). Abnormal signaling of the signal transduction pathway from the cytokine receptors via Janus kinases (JAKs) and signal transducers and activators of transcription (STATs) might be involved in the pathogenesis of AML. We examined whether an abnormal expression of one of the four JAKs, STAT1, STAT3, STAT5, or the tyrosine phosphatase SHP-1, a negative regulator of this pathway, is associated with malignant transformation in AML. Analysis of the expression of proteins of the JAK/STAT pathway in normal myeloid cells at three stages of maturation revealed a strong expression of all proteins in CD34+ cells, whereas the level of the proteins was significantly lower in granulocytic precursors and mature neutrophils. Furthermore, during maturation the relation of the isoforms of STAT1 and STAT3 changed from predominantly alpha to predominantly beta. Leukemic blast cells from 25 patients and 12 cell lines showed a high level of STAT proteins and SHP-1, whereas a deficiency of at least one of the four JAKs was found in 10 of 25 patients. In primary AML blast cells a deficiency of three JAKs was more common in patients with an abnormal karyotype. In addition, a lack of JAK2 and Tyk2 protein was strongly associated with the FAB M2 phenotype. The proliferation rate in response to GM-CSF available in a small number of patients appears to be related to the JAK2 expression. Our data suggest that the degree of expression of G-CSF/GM-CSF receptor-associated proteins of the JAK/STAT pathway in normal myeloid cells is related with their clonogenic potential. STAT3 appears to be involved in early differentiation. Similar to CD34+ cells, it is likely that the high levels of STATs and SHP-1 found in leukemic cells reflects their proliferative activity, whereas a lack of members of the JAK family might lead to an inability to proliferate in response to G-CSF/GM-CSF described in a considerable percentage of AML blasts.