Aberrant JAK-STAT signaling is a hallmark of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). These hyperproliferative disorders are classically associated with activating mutations in tyrosine kinases such as JAK2 and the thrombopoietin (TPO) receptor MPL. Activation of JAK-STAT signaling and responses to JAK2 inhibitors have been observed in MPN patients lacking JAK2 or MPL mutations, suggesting that other regulatory elements in the JAK-STAT pathway are altered. However, the molecular basis for this observation has been unclear. Recently, the role of inhibitory regulators of JAK-STAT signaling in MPN pathogenesis has been increasingly recognized. LNK is an adaptor protein that forms a negative feedback loop by binding to MPL and JAK2 and inhibiting downstream STAT activation. Murine models indicate that loss of LNK function can promote the development of a MPN phenotype. Several recent studies have identified novel LNK mutations in MPNs, thus validating this notion in humans. These findings represent a novel genetic paradigm of loss of negative feedback regulation of JAK-STAT activation in MPNs and have implications for the future development of targeted therapies in MPNs.
Keywords: JAK-STAT; JAK2 V617F; LNK; essential thrombocythemia; myeloproliferative neoplasms; polycythemia vera; primary myelofibrosis.