Postchemotherapy relapse presents a major unmet medical need in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), where treatment options are limited. CD25 is a leukemic stem cell marker and a conspicuous prognostic marker for overall/relapse-free survival in AML. Rare occurrence of genetic alterations among PIM family members imposes a substantial hurdle in formulating a compelling patient stratification strategy for the clinical development of selective PIM inhibitors in cancer. Here we show that CD25, a bona fide STAT5 regulated gene, is a mechanistically relevant predictive biomarker for sensitivity to PIM kinase inhibitors. Alone or in combination with tyrosine kinase inhibitors, PIM inhibitors can suppress STAT5 activation and significantly shorten the half-life of MYC to achieve substantial growth inhibition of high CD25-expressing AML cells. Our results highlight the importance of STAT5 and MYC in rendering cancer cells sensitive to PIM inhibitors. Because the presence of a CD25-positive subpopulation in leukemic blasts correlates with poor overall or relapse-free survival, our data suggest that a combination of PIM inhibitors with chemotherapy and tyrosine kinase inhibitors could improve long-term therapeutic outcomes in CD25-positive AML.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology