Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common form of acute leukemia in adults, affecting approximately 21,000 people annually (nearly 11,000 deaths) in the United States. B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) family proteins, notably myeloid cell leukemia-1 (MCL-1), have been associated with both the development and persistence of AML. MCL-1 is one of the predominant BCL-2 family members expressed in samples from patients with untreated AML. MCL-1 is a critical cell survival factor for cancer and contributes to chemotherapy resistance by directly affecting cell death pathways. Here, we review the role of MCL-1 in AML and the mechanisms by which the potent cyclin-dependent kinase 9 inhibitor alvocidib, through regulation of MCL-1, may serve as a rational therapeutic approach against the disease.
Keywords: AML; BCL-2; MCL-1; alvocidib; flavopiridol.