Rac GTPases as key regulators of p210-BCR-ABL-dependent leukemogenesis

Leukemia. 2008 May;22(5):898-904. doi: 10.1038/leu.2008.71. Epub 2008 Mar 20.


Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a malignant disease characterized by expression of p210-BCR-ABL, the product of the Philadelphia chromosome. Survival of CML patients has been significantly improved with the introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors that induce long-term hematologic remissions. However, mounting evidence indicates that the use of a single tyrosine kinase inhibitor does not cure this disease due to the persistence of p210-BCR-ABL at the molecular level or the acquired resistance in the stem cell compartment to individual inhibitors. We have recently shown in a murine model that deficiency of the Rho GTPases Rac1 and Rac2 significantly reduces p210-BCR-ABL-mediated proliferation in vitro and myeloproliferative disease in vivo, suggesting Rac as a potential therapeutic target in p210-BCR-ABL-induced disease. This target has been further validated using a first-generation Rac-specific small molecule inhibitor. In this review we describe the role of Rac GTPases in p210-BCR-ABL-induced leukemogenesis and explore the possibility of combinatorial therapies that include tyrosine kinase inhibitor(s) and Rac GTPase inhibitors in the treatment of CML.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / etiology*
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl
  • rac2 GTP-binding protein
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein