Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Peng Huang

Committee Member

Ralph B. Arlinghaus

Committee Member

Zahid H. Siddik

Committee Member

Paul J. Chiao

Committee Member

Chengming Zhu


Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), a myeloproliferative disorder, represents approximately 15-20% of all adult leukemia. The development of CML is clearly linked to the constitutively active protein-tyrosine kinase BCR-ABL, which is encoded by BCR-ABL fusion gene as the result of chromosome 9/22 translocation (Philadelphia chromosome). Previous studies have demonstrated that oxidative stress-associated genetic, metabolic and biological alterations contribute to CML cell survival and drug refractory. Mitochondria and NAD(P)H oxidase (NOX) are the major sources of BCR-ABL-induced cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. However, it is still unknown how CML cells maintain the altered redox status, while escaping from the persistent oxidative stress-induced cell death. Therefore, elucidation of the mechanisms by which CML cells cope with oxidative stress will provide new insights into CML leukemogenesis. The major goal of this study is to identify the survival factors protecting CML cells against oxidative stress and develop novel therapeutic strategies to overcome drug resistance.

Several experimental models were used to test CML cell redox status and cellular sensitivity to oxidative stress, including BCR-ABL inducible cell lines, BCR-ABL stably transformed cell lines and BCR-ABL-expressing CML blast crisis cells with differential BCL-XL/BCL-2 expressions. Additionally, an artificial CML cell model with heterogenic BCL-XL/BCL-2 expression was established to assess the correlation between differential survival factor expression patterns and cell sensitivity to Imatinib and oxidative stress. In this study, BCL-XL and GSH have been identified as the major survival factors responsive to BCR-ABL-promoted cellular oxidative stress and play a dominant role in regulating the threshold of oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. Cell survival factors BCL-XL and BCL-2 differentially protect mitochondria under oxidative stress. BCL-XL is an essential survival factor in preventing excessive ROS-induced cell death while BCL-2 seems to play a relatively minor role. Furthermore, the redox modulating reagent β-phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) has been found to efficiently deplete GSH and induce potent cell killing effects in drug-resistant CML cells. Combination of PEITC with BCL-XL/BCL2 inhibitor ABT737 or suppression of BCL-XL by BCR-ABL inhibitor Gleevec dramatically sensitizes CML cells to apoptosis. These results have suggested that elevation of BCL-XL and cellular GSH are important for the development of CML, and that redox-directed therapy is worthy of further clinical investigations in CML.


Chronic myeloid leukemia, CML, BCR-ABL, reactive oxygen species, ROS, GSH, BCL-XL, BCL-2, PEITC, Imatinib, ABT737



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.