Cholesterol homeostasis has been proposed as one mechanism contributing to chemoresistance in AML and hence, inclusion of statins in therapeutic regimens as part of clinical trials in AML has shown encouraging results. Chemical screening of primary human AML specimens by our group led to the identification of lipophilic statins as potent inhibitors of AMLs from a wide range of cytogenetic groups. Genetic screening to identify modulators of the statin response uncovered the role of protein geranylgeranylation and of RAB proteins, coordinating various aspect of vesicular trafficking, in mediating the effects of statins on AML cell viability. We further show that statins can inhibit vesicle-mediated transport in primary human specimens, and that statins sensitive samples show expression signatures reminiscent of enhanced vesicular trafficking. Overall, this study sheds light into the mechanism of action of statins in AML and identifies a novel vulnerability for cytogenetically diverse AML.
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