Autophagy inhibition potentiates ruxolitinib-induced apoptosis in JAK2V617F cells.Invest New Drugs. 2020 06; 38(3):733-745.IN
JAK2V617F can mimic growth factor signaling, leading to PI3K/AKT/mTOR activation and inhibition of autophagy. We hypothesized that selective inhibition of JAK1/2 by ruxolitinib could induce autophagy and limit drug efficacy in myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN). Therefore, we investigated the effects of ruxolitinib treatment on autophagy-related genes and cellular processes, to determine the potential benefit of autophagy inhibitors plus ruxolitinib in JAK2V617F cells, and to verify the frequency and clinical impact of autophagy-related gene mutations in patients with MPNs. In SET2 JAK2V617F cells, ruxolitinib treatment induced autophagy and modulated 26 out of 79 autophagy-related genes. Ruxolitinib treatment reduced the expressions of important autophagy regulators, including mTOR/p70S6K/4EBP1 and the STAT/BCL2 axis, in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Pharmacological inhibition of autophagy was able to significantly suppress ruxolitinib-induced autophagy and increased ruxolitinib-induced apoptosis. Mutations in autophagy-related genes were found in 15.5% of MPN patients and were associated with increased age and a trend towards worse survival. In conclusion, ruxolitinib induces autophagy in JAK2V617F cells, potentially by modulation of mTOR-, STAT- and BCL2-mediated signaling. This may lead to inhibition of apoptosis. Our results suggest that the combination of ruxolitinib with pharmacological inhibitors of autophagy, such as chloroquine, may be a promising strategy to treat patients with JAK2V617F-mutated MPNs.