The neuroblastoma ALK(I1250T) mutation is a kinase-dead RTK in vitro and in vivo

Transl Oncol. 2011 Aug;4(4):258-65. doi: 10.1593/tlo.11139. Epub 2011 Aug 1.


Activating mutations in the kinase domain of anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) have recently been shown to be an important determinant in the genetics of the childhood tumor neuroblastoma. Here we discuss an in-depth analysis of one of the reported gain-of-function ALK mutations-ALK(I1250T)-identified in the germ line DNA of one patient. Our analyses were performed in cell culture-based systems and subsequently confirmed in a Drosophila model. The results presented here indicate that the germ line ALK(I1250T) mutation is most probably not a determinant for tumor initiation or progression and, in contrast, seems to generate a kinase-dead mutation in the ALK receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK). Consistent with this, stimulation with agonist ALK antibodies fails to lead to stimulation of ALK(I1250T) and we were unable to detect tyrosine phosphorylation under any circumstances. In agreement, ALK(I1250T) is unable to activate downstream signaling pathways or to mediate neurite outgrowth, in contrast to the activated wild-type ALK receptor or the activating ALK(F1174S) mutant. Identical results were obtained when the ALK(I1250T) mutant was expressed in a Drosophila model, confirming the lack of activity of this mutant ALK RTK. We suggest that the ALK(I1250T) mutation leads to a kinase-dead ALK RTK, in stark contrast to assumed gain-of-function status, with significant implications for patients reported to carry this particular ALK mutation.