Increasing evidence suggests that Rho family GTPases could have a critical role in the biology of T-cell lymphoma. In ALK-rearranged anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a specific subtype of T-cell lymphoma, the Rho family GTPases Cdc42 and Rac1 are activated by the ALK oncogenic activity. In vitro studies have shown that Cdc42 and Rac1 control rather similar phenotypes of ALCL biology such as the proliferation, survival, and migration of lymphoma cells. However, their role and possible redundancy in ALK-driven lymphoma development in vivo are still undetermined. We genetically deleted Cdc42 or Rac1 in a mouse model of ALK-rearranged ALCL to show that either Cdc42 or Rac1 deletion impaired lymphoma development, modified lymphoma morphology, actin filament distribution, and migration properties of lymphoma cells. Cdc42 or Rac1 deletion primarily affected survival rather than proliferation of lymphoma cells. Apoptosis of lymphoma cells was equally induced following Cdc42 or Rac1 deletion, was associated with upregulation of the proapoptotic molecule Bid, and was blocked by Bcl2 overexpression. Remarkably, Cdc42/Rac1 double deletion, but not Cdc42 or Rac1 single deletions, completely prevented NPM-ALK lymphoma dissemination in vivo. Thus, Cdc42 and Rac1 have nonredundant roles in controlling ALK-rearranged lymphoma survival and morphology but are redundant for lymphoma dissemination, suggesting that targeting both GTPases could represent a preferable therapeutic option for ALCL treatment.
© 2016 by The American Society of Hematology.