Blockade of ROS production inhibits oncogenic signaling in acute myeloid leukemia and amplifies response to precision therapies

Sci Signal. 2023 Mar 28;16(778):eabp9586. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.abp9586. Epub 2023 Mar 28.


Mutations in the type III receptor tyrosine kinase FLT3 are frequent in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and are associated with a poor prognosis. AML is characterized by the overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can induce cysteine oxidation in redox-sensitive signaling proteins. Here, we sought to characterize the specific pathways affected by ROS in AML by assessing oncogenic signaling in primary AML samples. The oxidation or phosphorylation of signaling proteins that mediate growth and proliferation was increased in samples from patient subtypes with FLT3 mutations. These samples also showed increases in the oxidation of proteins in the ROS-producing Rac/NADPH oxidase-2 (NOX2) complex. Inhibition of NOX2 increased the apoptosis of FLT3-mutant AML cells in response to FLT3 inhibitors. NOX2 inhibition also reduced the phosphorylation and cysteine oxidation of FLT3 in patient-derived xenograft mouse models, suggesting that decreased oxidative stress reduces the oncogenic signaling of FLT3. In mice grafted with FLT3 mutant AML cells, treatment with a NOX2 inhibitor reduced the number of circulating cancer cells, and combining FLT3 and NOX2 inhibitors increased survival to a greater extent than either treatment alone. Together, these data raise the possibility that combining NOX2 and FLT3 inhibitors could improve the treatment of FLT3 mutant AML.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cysteine* / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / drug therapy
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / genetics
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mutation
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3 / genetics


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Cysteine
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3