We applied a mass spectrometry based approach to explore the proteins differentially regulated by PML-RARalpha, a translocation characteristic of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Bioinformatic pathway analysis placed the 46 identified PML-RARalpha regulated proteins into three major networks, OP18-MAPK1, HSP-STAT3 and CCT-MYC. Using this approach, we were able to generate a common cell cycle network of the proteins in these pathways. Further analysis indicated that mRNA expression of OP18, which belonged to this network, was elevated in APL patients and the increased OP18 protein expression upon PML-RARalpha induction was overcome by retinoic acid treatment. Here we also report, for the first time a novel role of PML-RARalpha in cell cycle progression and mitotic exit. RNA interference experiments revealed that siRNA against OP18 overcomes PML-RARalpha effects on cell cycle progression. In addition to increased OP18 expression by PML-RARalpha, 2D gel electrophoresis revealed an isomer of OP18, subsequently confirmed by 2D-western as ser63 phosphomer to be downregulated by PML-RARalpha. Based on these findings, point mutation experiments indicated that decreased phosphorylation of ser63 in OP18 is important for PML-RARalpha mediated cell cycle and mitotic index effects since a constitutive phosphorylated mutant (ser63/asp) of OP18 overcame the PML-RARalpha effects in U9/PR cells, NB4 and APL patients. In summary, our results demonstrate that the effect of PML-RARalpha on cell cycle progression and mitotic exit is via two mechanisms: increasing the expression of OP18 and decreasing the phosphorylation of OP18 at ser63.

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