FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is almost universally expressed in B-precursor childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Cases of ALL with MLL gene rearrangements and those with high hyperdiploidy (> 50 chromosomes) express the highest levels of FLT3, and activating mutations of FLT3 occur in 18% of MLL-rearranged and 28% of hyperdiploid ALL cases. We determined the antileukemic activity of CEP-701, a potent and selective FLT3 inhibitor, in 8 ALL cell lines and 39 bone marrow samples obtained at diagnosis from infants and children with various subtypes of ALL. CEP-701 induced pronounced apoptotic responses in a higher percentage of samples that expressed high levels of FLT3 (74%, n = 23) compared with samples with low levels of expression (8%, n = 13; P = .0003). Sensitivity to FLT3 inhibition was particularly high in samples with MLL gene rearrangements (82%, n = 11; P = .0005), high hyperdiploidy (100%, n = 5; P = .0007), and/or FLT3 mutations (100%, n = 4; P = .0021). Seven of 7 sensitive samples examined by immunoblotting demonstrated constitutively phosphorylated FLT3 that was potently inhibited by CEP-701, whereas 0 of 6 resistant samples expressed constitutively phosphorylated FLT3. We conclude that the FLT3 inhibitor CEP-701 effectively suppresses FLT3-driven leukemic cell survival. Clinical testing of CEP-701 as a novel molecularly targeted agent for the treatment of childhood ALL is warranted.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology