Studies on the role of BCR in Philadelphia chromosome-positive leukemias

Dai Lu, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


It is well established that the chimeric Bcr-Abl oncoprotein resulting from fusing 3$\sp\prime$ ABL sequences on chromosome 9 to 5$\sp\prime$ BCR sequences on chromosome 22 is the primary cause of Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph$\sp1$) leukemias. Although it is clear that the cis-Bcr sequence present within Bcr-Abl is able to activate the tyrosine kinase activity and F-actin binding capacity of Bcr-Abl which is critical for the transforming ability of BCR-ABL, the biological role of normal BCR gene product (P160 BCR) remains largely unknown. The previous finding by our lab that P160 BCR forms stable complexes with Bcr-Abl oncoprotein in Ph$\sp1$-positive leukemic cells implicated P160 BCR in the pathogenesis of Ph$\sp1$-positive leukemias. Here, we demonstrated that P160 BCR physically interacts with P210 BCR-ABL and become tyrosine phosphorylated when co-expressed with P210 BCR-ABL in COS1 cells while no tyrosine phosphorylation of P160 BCR can be detected when it is expressed alone. The results suggest that P160 BCR is a target for the Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase. Although we were unable to detect stable physical interaction between P160 BCR and P145 c-ABL (Ib) in COS1 cells overexpressing both proteins, P160 BCR was phosphorylated on tyrosine residues when co-expressed with activated tyrosine kinase of P145 c-ABL (Ib). In addition, studies of tyrosine phosphorylation of BCR deletion mutants and 2-dimensional tryptic mapping of in vitro phosphorylated wild type and mutant (tyrosine to phenylalanine) Bcr-Abl indicated that tyrosine 177, 283 and 360 of Bcr represent some of the phosphorylation sites. Even though the significance of tyrosine phosphorylation of residues 283 and 360 of Bcr has not been determined, tyrosine phosphorylation of residue 177 within Bcr-Abl has been reported to be critical for its interaction with Grb2 molecule and subsequent activation of Ras signaling pathway. Here, we further demonstrated that tyrosine 177 phosphorylated P160 BCR is also able to bind to Grb2 molecule suggesting the role of P160 BCR in the Ras signaling pathway. Surprisingly, using 3$\sp\prime$ BCR antisense oligonucleotide to reduce the expression of P160 BCR without interfering with the expression of BCR-ABL resulted in increased growth or survival of B15 cells and M3.16 cells expressing either P185 BCR-ABL or P210 BCR-ABL respectively. The results provided strong arguments that P160 BCR may function as a negative regulator for cell growth. Considering all these results, we hypothesize that P160 BCR negatively regulate cell growth and tyrosine phosphorylation of P160 BCR turns off its growth suppressor function and turns on its growth stimulatory function. We further speculate that Bcr-Abl oncoprotein in leukemia cells stably interacts with and constitutively phosphorylates portions of P160 BCR converting it into a growth stimulatory state. In normal cells, the growth suppressor effects of P160 BCR could only be transiently and conditionally switched to growth stimulatory action by a strictly regulated cellular tyrosine kinase such as c-ABL. The model will be further discussed in the text.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Pathology

Recommended Citation

Lu, Dai, "Studies on the role of BCR in Philadelphia chromosome-positive leukemias" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9532506.