Therapeutic targeting of the MEK/MAPK signal transduction module in acute myeloid leukemia

J Clin Invest. 2001 Sep;108(6):851-9. doi: 10.1172/JCI12807.


The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway regulates growth and survival of many cell types, and its constitutive activation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a variety of malignancies. In this study we demonstrate that small-molecule MEK inhibitors (PD98059 and PD184352) profoundly impair cell growth and survival of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell lines and primary samples with constitutive MAPK activation. These agents abrogate the clonogenicity of leukemic cells but have minimal effects on normal hematopoietic progenitors. MEK blockade also results in sensitization to spontaneous and drug-induced apoptosis. At a molecular level, these effects correlate with modulation of the expression of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (p27(Kip1) and p21(Waf1/CIP1)) and antiapoptotic proteins of the inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAP) and Bcl-2 families. Interruption of constitutive MEK/MAPK signaling therefore represents a promising therapeutic strategy in AML.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Benzamides / pharmacology
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Cyclins / genetics
  • Cytarabine / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / enzymology*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / metabolism*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / genetics
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins*
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein


  • 2-(2-chloro-4-iodophenylamino)-N-cyclopropylmethoxy-3,4-difluorobenzamide
  • Benzamides
  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Cyclins
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Flavonoids
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • X-Linked Inhibitor of Apoptosis Protein
  • XIAP protein, human
  • Cytarabine
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • 2-(2-amino-3-methoxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one