BACKGROUND: Anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) is an aggressive non-Hodgkin T cell lymphoma commonly driven by NPM-ALK. AP-1 transcription factors, cJUN and JUNb, act as downstream effectors of NPM-ALK and transcriptionally regulate PDGFRβ. Blocking PDGFRβ kinase activity with imatinib effectively reduces tumor burden and prolongs survival, although the downstream molecular mechanisms remain elusive.
METHODS AND RESULTS: In a transgenic mouse model that mimics PDGFRβ-driven human ALCL in vivo, we identify PDGFRβ as a driver of aggressive tumor growth. Mechanistically, PDGFRβ induces the pro-survival factor Bcl-xL and the growth-enhancing cytokine IL-10 via STAT5 activation. CRISPR/Cas9 deletion of both STAT5 gene products, STAT5A and STAT5B, results in the significant impairment of cell viability compared to deletion of STAT5A, STAT5B or STAT3 alone. Moreover, combined blockade of STAT3/5 activity with a selective SH2 domain inhibitor, AC-4-130, effectively obstructs tumor development in vivo.
CONCLUSIONS: We therefore propose PDGFRβ as a novel biomarker and introduce PDGFRβ-STAT3/5 signaling as an important axis in aggressive ALCL. Furthermore, we suggest that inhibition of PDGFRβ or STAT3/5 improve existing therapies for both previously untreated and relapsed/refractory ALK+ ALCL patients.