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Overexpression of IL2RA, which encodes the alpha chain of the IL2 receptor, is associated with chemotherapy resistance and poor outcome in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The clinical potential of anti-IL2RA therapy is, therefore, being explored in early-stage clinical trials. Notwithstanding, only very limited information regarding the biological function of IL2RA in AML is available. Using genetic manipulation of IL2RA expression as well as antibody-mediated inhibition of IL2RA in human cell lines, mouse models, and primary patient samples, we investigated the effects of IL2RA on AML cell proliferation and apoptosis, and on pertinent signaling pathways. The impact of IL2RA on the properties of leukemic stem cells (LSC) and on leukemogenesis were queried. IL2RA promoted proliferation and cell-cycle activity and inhibited apoptosis in human AML cell lines and primary cells. These phenotypes were accompanied by corresponding alterations in cell-cycle machinery and in pathways associated with cell survival and apoptosis. The biological roles of IL2RA were confirmed in two genetically distinct AML mouse models, revealing that IL2RA inhibits differentiation, promotes stem cell-related properties, and is required for leukemogenesis. IL2RA antibodies inhibited leukemic, but not normal, hematopoietic cells and synergized with other antileukemic agents in this regard. Collectively, these data show for the first time that IL2RA plays key biological roles in AML and underscore its value as a potential therapeutic target in this disease. SIGNIFICANCE: This study identifies IL2RA as a potential therapeutic target in AML, where it is shown to regulate proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, stem cell-related properties, and leukemogenesis. ©2020 American Association for Cancer Research.


Chi Huu Nguyen, Angela Schlerka, Alexander M Grandits, Elisabeth Koller, Emiel van der Kouwe, George S Vassiliou, Philipp B Staber, Gerwin Heller, Rotraud Wieser. IL2RA Promotes Aggressiveness and Stem Cell-Related Properties of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Cancer research. 2020 Oct 15;80(20):4527-4539

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PMID: 32873636

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