Imatinib resistance in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients is correlated with mutations in BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase domain in about half of the cases. Additional mechanisms related to imatinib resistance are under investigation. As TP53 gene is an important tumor suppressor that triggers apoptosis in response to DNA damage, its inactivation is responsible for chemotherapy resistance in cancer. Its role in cellular response to targeted biological treatment is currently unresolved. Inactivation of p53 by deletion and/or mutation in the TP53 gene is observed in CML patients during progression to accelerated phase (AP) and blast crisis (BC). It was suggested that BCR-ABL inhibition by imatinib induce the p53 response and therefore p53 inactivation may play role in resistance to targeted treatment (Wendel et al., 2006; Yamamoto et al., 2008). On the other hand, imatinib-induced p53 independent pro-apoptotic mechanism was described recently (Liu et al., 2009).
We investigated the relationship between imatinib resistance and abnormalities in the TP53 gene and additional genomic changes.
RNA and genomic DNA were isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of CML patients that either fail to achieve or lost the major cytogenetic response (MCyR). TP53 mutational status was examined using functional analysis of separated alleles in yeast (FASAY). In defined cases direct sequencing of genomic DNA was used. Genomic changes were detected by conventional metaphase cytogenetics and CGH microarrays 4×44K (Agilent). Copy number analyses were performed using MEV software.
FASAY analysis to detect functional state of TP53 gene was performed in 16 imatinib-resistant CML patients and in one Ph+ B-ALL patient. Six of these patients were negative for BCR-ABL mutations. Four patients were examined at the time of blast crisis (two patients with myeloid BC and two patients with lymphoid BC). All examined patients carried functional TP53 gene. As FASAY is based on RNA analysis, it is not able to detect some mutations leading to nonsense-mediated RNA decay; therefore, in six patients without BCR-ABL mutation, direct sequencing of TP53 gene from genomic DNA was performed. Also by this approach no TP53 mutation was detected. Alterations of the p53 pathway were found in only 2 patients, both in lymphoid BC: one patient without BCR-ABL mutation had +8 and the deletion of TP53 locus accompanied by i(17p). Second patient with BCR-ABL mutation T315I carried heterozygous deletion of 9p with biallelic loss of 9p21. In this locus two important tumor suppressor genes CDKN2A and CDKN2B are localized. CDKN2A alternative transcript contains an alternate open reading frame (ARF) that functions as a stabilizer of the tumor suppressor protein p53. In other two patients in chronic phase that did not reach MCyR and had no BCR-ABL mutations additional genomic changes potentially connected to imatinib resistance were found: 1) +der(16) coupled with amplification of 16(p11-q12), where ABCC11 and ABCC12 genes are localized. The proteins encoded by these genes are members of the superfamily of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters responsible for multidrug resistance. 2) del(3)(p13p21), involving locus 3p14 where multiple tumor suppressors are localized (e.g. FHIT, ADAMTS9, LRIG1). Chromosomal region 3p14 was shown to be often deleted in different types of human cancers.
Imatinib resistance in CML patients is probably not associated with TP53 inactivation. Alterations of the p53 pathway occur within transformation to more advanced stages, what is in concordance with previous findings. Genomic aberrations potentially influencing response to imatinib treatment may be found in some patients. Larger patients' cohorts are required to identify relevant recurrent genomic aberrations involved in imatinib resistance.
This work was supported with grants NR9858-4/2008 and NR9305-3/2007 provided by IGA MH CR of Czech Republic, and MSM0021622430 provided by MEYS of Czech Republic
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.