Global proteome quantification for discovering imatinib-induced perturbation of multiple biological pathways in K562 human chronic myeloid leukemia cells

J Proteome Res. 2010 Nov 5;9(11):6007-15. doi: 10.1021/pr100814y. Epub 2010 Oct 15.


Imatinib mesylate, currently marketed by Novartis as Gleevec in the U.S., has emerged as the leading compound to treat the chronic phase of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), through its inhibition of Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinases, and other cancers. However, resistance to imatinib develops frequently, particularly in late-stage disease. To identify new cellular pathways affected by imatinib treatment, we applied mass spectrometry together with stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) for the comparative study of protein expression in K562 cells that were untreated or treated with a clinically relevant concentration of imatinib. Our results revealed that, among the 1344 quantified proteins, 73 had significantly altered levels of expression induced by imatinib and could be quantified in both forward and reverse SILAC labeling experiments. These included the down-regulation of thymidylate synthase, S-adenosylmethionine synthetase, and glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase as well as the up-regulation of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase 1, hemoglobins, and enzymes involved in heme biosynthesis. We also found, by assessing alteration in the acetylation level in histone H4 upon imatinib treatment, that the imatinib-induced hemoglobinization and erythroid differentiation in K562 cells are associated with global histone H4 hyperacetylation. Overall, these results provided potential biomarkers for monitoring the therapeutic intervention of CML using imatinib and offered important new knowledge for gaining insight into the molecular mechanisms of action of imatinib.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Benzamides
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Histones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • K562 Cells
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / pathology
  • Piperazines / pharmacology*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology*


  • Benzamides
  • Histones
  • Piperazines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Imatinib Mesylate