Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is sustained by the extensive proliferation of leukemic stem and progenitor cells, which give rise to the population of leukemic blasts with defective differentiation and low proliferative capacity. We have recently shown that ligation of CD44, a cell surface molecule present on AML cells, with specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) inhibits their proliferation. However, its mechanism has not been investigated yet. Here, using the NB4 cell line as a model of proliferating human AML cells, and the A3D8 mAb to ligate CD44, we show for the first time that CD44 ligation stabilizes the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27Kip1 (p27) protein, resulting in increased association with cyclin E/Cdk2 complexes and inhibition of their kinase activity. Moreover, using a p27 antisense vector, we provide direct evidence that p27 is the main mediator of cell growth arrest by CD44. CD44 ligation also leads to p27 accumulation in THP-1, KG1a, and HL60 cell lines and in primary leukemic cells, suggesting that this process is general in AML. Taken together, our present results suggest that CD44 is a new and efficient means to increase the expression of p27 in AML cells. Considering that elevated expression of p27 is a factor of good prognosis in AML, these results provide a new basis for developing CD44-targeted therapy in AML.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology