Acute promyelocytic leukaemia: novel insights into the mechanisms of cure

Nat Rev Cancer. 2010 Nov;10(11):775-83. doi: 10.1038/nrc2943. Epub 2010 Oct 22.


The fusion oncogene, promyelocytic leukaemia (PML)-retinoic acid receptor-α (RARA), initiates acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) through both a block to differentiation and increased self-renewal of leukaemic progenitor cells. The current standard of care is retinoic acid (RA) and chemotherapy, but arsenic trioxide also cures many patients with APL, and an RA plus arsenic trioxide combination cures most patients. This Review discusses the recent evidence that reveals surprising new insights into how RA and arsenic trioxide cure this leukaemia, by targeting PML-RARα for degradation. Drug-triggered oncoprotein degradation may be a strategy that is applicable to many cancers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Promyelocytic, Acute / pathology
  • Models, Biological