Targeting Susceptible Signaling Pathways in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

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2014, 2016
Dielschneider, Rebecca
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Cell Death and Disease
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a cancer of B cells and is the most common leukemia in North America. Current therapies are fraught with challenges, and drug resistance and disease relapse remain common occurrences. Therefore, novel therapies and novel therapeutic strategies are needed to improve CLL therapy. Better yet, therapies targeted at specific weaknesses of CLL cells will ensure maximum efficacy and minimum adverse toxicity. To this end, this thesis focuses on targeting the susceptible BCR pathway and lysosome-mediated cell death pathway using gefitinib and lysosomotropic agents, respectively. Firstly, the novel use of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib was explored. This drug was most effective in aggressive ZAP-70+ CLL cells and cell lines. A similar inhibitor, erlotinib, had no effect in CLL. Gefitinib inhibited phosphorylation of Syk and ZAP-70, prevented downstream kinase activation, and supressed the pro-survival BCR response. ZAP-70 is implicated in the mechanism of action of gefitinib as introduction of ZAP-70 into a B cell line increased their sensitivity to gefitinib. Secondly, the novel strategy of targeting lysosomes was explored. The lysosomotropic drugs siramesine, nortriptyline, desipramine, mefloquine, and tafenoquine were all found to induce cytotoxicity and lysosome permeabilization. Lysosome permeabilization was accompanied with lipid peroxidation and followed by loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. Compared with healthy B cells, CLL cells were more sensitive to this cell death pathway. This was potentially due to the overexpression of SPP1 and overproduction of sphingosine, which destabilized lysosomes. Lastly, this thesis explored the clinical utility of these targeted therapies. Both gefitinib and siramesine were more effective in CLL cells than patient T cells. Furthermore, they retained efficacy amid protective stromal cells. Clinical correlations revealed that gefitinib and siramesine were effective in CLL cells with poor prognostic features. Siramesine was more effective in male cells and in previously-treated cells. Gefitinib was most effective in young patients. Overall, work presented herein demonstrates the efficacy of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor gefitinib and lysosomotropic agents in primary CLL cells. This work investigates the altered biology of the BCR pathway and lysosomes in CLL cells, and takes advantage of these weaknesses using targeted therapies.
Leukemia, Cancer, ZAP-70, Lysosome, B Cell Receptor