Inhibition of FLT3-mediated transformation by use of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor

Leukemia. 2001 Jul;15(7):1001-10. doi: 10.1038/sj.leu.2402199.


FLT3 is a member of the type III receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) family. These receptors all contain an intrinsic tyrosine kinase domain that is critical to signaling. Aberrant expression of the FLT3 gene has been documented in both adult and childhood leukemias including AML, ALL and CML. In addition, 17-27% of pediatric and adult patients with AML have small internal tandem duplication mutations in FLT3. Patients expressing the mutant form of the receptor have been shown to have a decreased chance for cure. Our previous study, using a constitutively activated FLT3, demonstrated transformation of Ba/F3 cells and leukemic development in an animal model. Thus, there is accumulating evidence for a role for FLT3 in human leukemias. This has prompted us to search for inhibitors of FLT3 as a possible therapeutic approach in these patients. AG1296 is a compound of the tyrphostin class that is known to selectively inhibit the tyrosine kinase activity of the PDGF and KIT receptors. Since FLT3 is a close relative of KIT, we wanted to test the possible inhibitory activity of AG1296 on FLT3. In transfected Ba/F3 cells, AG1296 selectively and potently inhibited autophosphorylation of FL-stimulated wild-type and constitutively activated FLT3. Treatment by AG1296 abolished IL-3-independent proliferation of Ba/F3 cells expressing the constitutively activated FLT3 and thus, reversed the transformation mediated by activated FLT3. Inhibition of FLT3 activity by AG1296 in cells transformed by activated FLT3 resulted in apoptotic cell death, with no deleterious effect on their parental counterparts. Addition of IL-3 rescued the growth of cells expressing activated FLT3 in the presence of AG1296. This demonstrates that the inhibition is specific to the FLT3 pathway in that it leaves the kinases of the IL-3 pathway and other kinases further downstream involved in proliferation intact. Several proteins phosphorylated by the activated FLT3 signaling pathway, including STAT 5A, STAT 5B and CBL, were no longer phosphorylated when these cells were treated with AG1296. The activity against FLT3 suggests a potential therapeutic application for AG1296 or similar drugs in the treatment of leukemias involving deregulated FLT3 tyrosine kinase activity and as a tool for studying the biology of FLT3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Milk Proteins*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Tyrosine / metabolism
  • Tyrphostins / pharmacology*
  • fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Milk Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • STAT5 Transcription Factor
  • Trans-Activators
  • Tyrphostins
  • 6,7-dimethoxy-3-phenylquinoxaline
  • Tyrosine
  • FLT3 protein, human
  • Flt3 protein, mouse
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptors, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3