Polycythemia Vera (PV), Essential Thrombocythemia (ET) and Primary Myelofibrosis (PMF) are BCR-ABL1 negative Chronic Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPN) characterized by increased myeloid proliferation, with predominant erythroid, megakaryocytic and megakaryocytic/granulocytic expansion, respectively. The finding of a recurrent mutation in the gene of the tyrosine-kinase Janus kinase 2 (JAK2 V617F) in these diseases has raised the hypothesis that this could be the main cause of their development. However, the evidence that MPN patients have a very similar response to JAK2 inhibitors regardless of JAK2 mutation status, and the knowledge that many receptors and substrates may lead to the activation of JAK/STAT, Ras/Raf/MAP kinases and PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathways, indicate the need to investigate other crucial proteins involved in the physiopathology of these diseases. Insulin receptor substrate 2 (IRS2) mediates mitogenic and antiapoptotic signaling from IR, IGF-IR, EPO-R and TPO-R. Previous studies performed on non-hematological cell lines have shown the association of IRS2 with JAK/STAT, PI3K/Akt/mTOR and Ras/Raf/MAP kinases pathways, giving rise to the hypothesis that IRS2 could participate in the activation of crucial signaling pathways in MPN through direct interaction with JAK2 or through alternative mechanisms.


To identify the JAK2/IRS2 protein interaction and to study the effects of pharmacological JAK1/2 inhibition (Ruxolitinib) over IRS2 phosphorylation in leukemia cell lines harboring or not the JAK2 V617F mutation; to characterize IRS2 expression in CD34+ cells from patients with MPN and its correlation with clinical data including JAK2 mutation status.


Leukemia cell lines carrying JAK2 V617F mutation (HEL) or not (HL60) were used for immunoprecipitation and immunobloting with IRS2 and JAK2 antibodies. Cells treated or not with JAK1/2 inhibitor Ruxolitinib were also submitted to immunoprecipitation and immunobloting with IRS2 and anti-phosphotyrosine antibodies. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 28 healthy donors and 97 patients with MPN (PV=28, ET=38, PMF=31) were included, and CD34+ cells were submitted to quantitative PCR (q-PCR). Relative expression of IRS2 was correlated with clinical data and with JAK2 V617F mutation status.


Immunoprecipitation analysis showed that IRS2 associates with JAK2 in leukemia cell lines harboring (HEL) or not (HL60) the JAK2 V617F mutation. Furthermore, treatment of HEL cell line with the JAK1/2 selective inhibitor Ruxolitinib resulted in decreased IRS2 tyrosine phosphorylation. IRS2 mRNA expression in CD34+ cells were significantly higher in patients with ET when compared to healthy donors (1.70 [0.42-10.60] versus 0.87 [0.01-11.22], p=0.03). There was no difference in IRS2 mRNA expression in PV or PMF patients when compared to healthy donors. Furthermore, significantly higher levels of IRS2 mRNA expression were observed in patients harboring JAK2 V617F mutation when compared to the wild type JAK2 for ET (2.37 [0.96-10.60], n=14 versus 1.54 [0.42-1.54], n=22; p=0.01); and for PMF (2.27 [0.003-10.59], n=20 versus 0.60 [0.02-2.42], n=11; p=0.02). Although there was also a significant difference in IRS2 mRNA expression in mutated versus non mutated JAK2 in PV (p=0.02), the number of non mutated samples was low (n=2).


Our data indicate that IRS2 is a binding partner of JAK2 in myeloproliferative neoplasms and suggest that this protein association may be involved in cell proliferation in these diseases. The higher IRS2 expression in mutated samples (JAK2 V617F) might be associated with the constitutive activation of JAK2 in these samples.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.