Constitutively activating internal tandem duplication (ITD) and point mutations of the receptor tyrosine kinase FLT3 are present in up to 41% of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). These FLT3/ITD mutations are likely to be important because their presence is associated with a poor prognosis. Both types of mutations appear to activate the tyrosine kinase activity of FLT3. We describe here the identification and characterization of the indolocarbazole derivative CEP-701 as a FLT3 inhibitor. This drug potently and selectively inhibits autophosphorylation of wild-type and constitutively activated mutant FLT3 in vitro in FLT3/ITD- transfected cells and in human FLT3-expressing myeloid leukemia-derived cell lines. We demonstrate that CEP-701 induces a cytotoxic effect on cells in a dose-responsive fashion that parallels the inhibition of FLT3. STAT5 and ERK1/2, downstream targets of FLT3 in the signaling pathway, are inhibited in response to FLT3 inhibition. In primary leukemia blasts from AML patients harboring FLT3/ITD mutations, FLT3 is also inhibited, with an associated cytotoxic response. Finally, using a mouse model of FLT3/ITD leukemia, we demonstrate that the drug inhibits FLT3 phosphorylation in vivo and prolongs survival. These findings form the basis for a planned clinical trial of CEP-701 in patients with AML harboring FLT3-activating mutations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology