Oncogenic kinase NPM/ALK induces through STAT3 expression of immunosuppressive protein CD274 (PD-L1, B7-H1)

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 30;105(52):20852-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0810958105. Epub 2008 Dec 16.


The mechanisms of malignant cell transformation caused by the oncogenic, chimeric nucleophosmin (NPM)/anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) remain only partially understood, with most of the previous studies focusing mainly on the impact of NPM/ALK on cell survival and proliferation. Here we report that the NPM/ALK-carrying T cell lymphoma (ALK+TCL) cells strongly express the immunosuppressive cell-surface protein CD274 (PD-L1, B7-H1), as determined on the mRNA and protein level. The CD274 expression is strictly dependent on the expression and enzymatic activity of NPM/ALK, as demonstrated by inhibition of the NPM/ALK function in ALK+TCL cells by the small molecule ALK inhibitor CEP-14083 and by documenting CD274 expression in IL-3-depleted BaF3 cells transfected with the wild-type NPM/ALK, but not the kinase-inactive NPM/ALK K210R mutant or empty vector alone. NPM/ALK induces CD274 expression by activating its key signal transmitter, transcription factor STAT3. STAT3 binds to the CD274 gene promoter in vitro and in vivo, as shown in the gel electromobility shift and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, and is required for the PD-L1 gene expression, as demonstrated by siRNA-mediated STAT3 depletion. These findings identify an additional cell-transforming property of NPM/ALK and describe a direct link between an oncoprotein and an immunosuppressive cell-surface protein. These results also provide an additional rationale to therapeutically target NPM/ALK and STAT3 in ALK+TCL. Finally, they suggest that future immunotherapeutic protocols for this type of lymphoma may need to include the inhibition of NPM/ALK and STAT3 to achieve optimal clinical efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis*
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / genetics
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Leukemic* / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Leukemic* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / genetics
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / metabolism*
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / metabolism*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / biosynthesis*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / genetics


  • Antigens, CD
  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human
  • p80(NPM-ALK) protein
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases