Alternative splicing in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML): a novel therapeutic target?

Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2013 Sep;13(7):735-48. doi: 10.2174/15680096113139990083.


Although the imatinib based therapy of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) represents a triumph of medicine, not all patients with CML benefit from this drug due to the development of resistance and intolerance. The interruption of imatinib treatment is often followed by clinical relapse, suggesting a failure in the killing of residual leukaemic stem cells. There is need to identify alternative selective molecular targets for this disease and develop more effective therapeutic approaches. Alternative pre-mRNA splicing (AS) is an epigenetic process that greatly diversifies the repertoire of the transcriptome. AS orchestrates interactions between various types of proteins and between proteins and nucleic acids. Changes caused by individual splicing events in the cells are small, however, "splicing programs" typically react to these individual changes with considerable effects in cell proliferation, cell survival, and apoptosis. Current evidence suggests a pivotal role of AS in leukemias, particularly in myelodisplastic syndrome (MDS) and chronic lymphocyte leukemia (CLL). From these studies and studies in other malignances, it is clear that splicing abnormalities play a significant role in malignant transformation. Evaluation of AS events in CML can be used to identify novel disease markers and drugsensitive targets to overcome the limits of the small molecule inhibitors currently used for treating patients with CML. The use of aberrant splice variants as disease markers has been reported, however, little is known about the use of splicing abnormalities as drug targets in CML. Herein we discuss potential therapeutic approaches that can be used to target splicing abnormalities in CML.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alternative Splicing / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Design
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / genetics
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / metabolism
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / pathology
  • RNA Precursors / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • RNA Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger