Survivin is a member of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein family that has been implicated in cell cycle control, anti-apoptosis and cell division. Our previous studies and others have shown that Survivin and the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p21WAF1/CDKN1 (p21) are functionally associated and are involved in cell cycle, anti-apoptosis and cytokinesis in cancer cells and in normal hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPC). P21 is highly expressed in quiescent hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) in steady state, but the proportion of quiescent HSCs in G0 phase is reduced in p21−/− mice. In contrast, p21 has been shown as positive regulator on cell cycle of normal HPC since p21 deficiency results in fewer total CFU in mouse bone marrow (BM) cells with fewer CFU in S-phase and retrovirus transduction of p21 in p21 deficient bone marrow cells restores total and cycling CFU. We have previously reported that Survivin increases the proliferation of mouse primary HPC and that this enhancing effect is on HPC proliferation is absent when p21 is functionally deleted, suggesting that p21 is required for Survivin to enhance HPC proliferation. In addition, ITD-Flt3 mutations that are normally expressed in patients with acute myeloid leukemia and associate poor prognosis increase expression of both Survivin and p21, implicating their involvement in aberrant proliferation of HPC expressing ITD-Flt3. Herein we have characterized the functional association between p21 and Survivin in normal and transformed cell proliferation. Antagonizing wild-type Survivin in mouse BaF3 cells by retrovirus transduction of a T34A dominant negative mutant Survivin or anti-sense increased p21 expression, even though Survivin requires p21 to enhance HPC proliferation. Ectopic p21 in Survivin+/+ primary mouse bone marrow cells increased the number of immunophenotypically defined c-kit+, lin (KL) cells, which is consistent with a positive role of p21 in HPC proliferation, however; ectopic expression of p21 failed to increase HPC proliferation in Survivin deficient primary bone marrow cells, suggesting that p21 alone is not sufficient to substitute for Survivin’s enhancing function on normal HPC proliferation. Over-expression of ITD-Flt3 enhanced growth factor independent proliferation of primary mouse marrow c-kit+, Sca-1+, lin (KSL) cell number; however, co-expression of p21 with ITD-Flt3 dramatically decreased the number of growth factor independent KSL cells (80±6% reduction: P<0.01). Furthermore, the inhibitory effect of p21 on KLS proliferation was further enhanced by Survivin knockout bone marrow cells (64±5% reduction compared with presence of Survivin: P<0.05). These findings indicate that Survivin and p21 have a overlapping but distinct roles in regulating normal HPC proliferation and that manipulating p21 and Survivin may represent a potential therapeutic target for acute leukemia cells expressing ITD-Flt3.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes

Corresponding author