Chromosomal translocations involving chromosome 9q34 and 22q11 generate the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene. The location of the translocation within the BCR gene dictates which exons are excluded or included in the resulting fusion with the ABL1 gene. The most common translocations produce three main protein products with molecular weights of 190, 210, and 230 kD. Interestingly, the p190 and p210 BCR-ABL1 forms are associated with different clinical characteristics. Specifically, BCR-ABL1+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cases typically harbor the p190 form, whereas chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) cases typically harbor the p210 form. Despite a great deal of study over many decades devoted to the BCR-ABL1 molecule, neither phosphorylation of putative target proteins at site-specific resolution nor protein-protein interaction differences between the p190 and the p210 forms is well understood, preventing thorough understanding of the signaling programs employed by these variants.

Therefore, to examine signaling differences between p190 and p210 we chose a homogeneous system to investigate global phosphorylation of tyrosine residues. Ba/F3 cell lines, which are normally dependent on IL-3 for growth, were transduced with either the p190 or p210 form of BCR-ABL1. Subsequently, these cell lines were selected for successful growth in cytokine free media, indicating that the BCR-ABL1 fusions were signaling and inducing aberrant growth. These two BCR-ABL1 cell lines, as well as the parental Ba/F3 line, were grown in SILAC (stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture) media and lysates were enriched for phosphotyrosine (pTyr) peptides and submitted for mass spectrometric analysis. The resulting 3-state SILAC dataset includes quantitation on 355 pTyr sites in three pairwise comparisons; p190 vs. p210 as well as each BCR-ABL1 cell line vs. its parental control. Many of the known BCR-ABL1 associated phosphorylation sites are recapitulated in our dataset. To our knowledge we report the first data on pTyr site-specific differences between p190 and p210 forms within in the same cell type. Surprisingly, 78 pTyr sites are differentially regulated between p190 and p210, with notable examples including pTyr sites on TEC, SHC1, PEAK1, PTPN6 and LYN. Additionally, sites in the kinase domain of JAK2 and the DNA binding domain of STAT6 showed a reciprocal relationship in p190 vs. p210, suggesting the differential involvement of JAK-STAT pathway. Notably, 28 pTyr sites were differentially regulated exclusively in either p190 or p210 BCR-ABL1 Ba/F3 cells, suggesting that there may be signaling pathways unique to p190 and p210, respectively.

To attempt to identify direct substrates of BCR-ABL1 and detect differential binding of p190 and p210, we used the BioID system (Roux et al., JBC 2012). In this system, a specialized biotin ligase (BirA) is used to label adjacent or interacting proteins with a biotin moiety on lysine residues. Specifically, Ba/F3 cells transduced with BirA-tagged p190 or untagged p190 were grown in SILAC media and whole cell lysates were subjected streptavidin immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometry. Forty-four proteins were enriched over the control and known interactors such as SHC1, DOK2, and GAB1 were detected, along with several putative novel interactors. Combining both the phosphorylation and interactome datasets revealed all these proteins are hyper-phosphorylated compared to parental cell lines, suggesting these are direct substrates or in proximal complexes with p190 BCR-ABL1. A direct comparison of p190 and p210 interactomes using BioID is pending, and will further elucidate potential differences between these important fusion protein isoforms. In sum, our data suggests that p190 and p210 have at least partially independent signaling cascades that are mediated by differential protein-protein interactions, which may help explain the observed association of p190 with BCR-ABL1+ ALL and p210 with CML.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.