Flt3 Y591 duplication and Bcl-2 overexpression are detected in acute myeloid leukemia cells with high levels of phosphorylated wild-type p53

Blood. 2007 Mar 15;109(6):2589-96. doi: 10.1182/blood-2006-02-004234. Epub 2006 Nov 14.


Loss or mutation of the TP53 tumor suppressor gene is not commonly observed in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), suggesting that there is an alternate route for cell transformation. We investigated the hypothesis that previously observed Bcl-2 family member overexpression suppresses wild-type p53 activity in AML. We demonstrate that wild-type p53 protein is expressed in primary leukemic blasts from patients with de novo AML using 2-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE) and phospho-specific flow cytometry. We found that p53 was heterogeneously expressed and phosphorylated in AML patient samples and could accumulate following DNA damage. Overexpression of antiapoptosis protein Bcl-2 in AML cells was directly correlated with p53 expression and phosphorylation on serine residues 15, 46, and 392. Within those patients with the highest levels of Bcl-2 expression, we identified a mutation in FLT3 that duplicated phosphorylation site Y591. The presence of this mutation correlated with greater than normal Bcl-2 expression and with previously observed profiles of potentiated STAT and MAPK signaling. These results support the hypothesis that Flt3-mediated signaling in AML enables accumulation of Bcl-2 and maintains a downstream block to p53 pathway apoptosis. Bcl-2 inhibition might therefore improve the efficacy of existing AML therapies by inactivating this suppression of wild-type p53 activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Damage
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Leukemic*
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / metabolism*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Tyrosine / genetics
  • Tyrosine / metabolism*
  • fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3 / genetics
  • fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3 / metabolism*


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Tyrosine
  • FLT3 protein, human
  • fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3