Cross-talk between Bcr-abl and the Thioredoxin System in Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia: Implications for CML Treatment.Antioxidants (Basel). 2020 Mar 03; 9(3)A
Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is currently treated with inhibitors of the CML specific oncoprotein, bcr-abl. While this strategy is initially successful, drug resistance can become a problem. Therefore, new targets need to be identified to ensure the disease can be appropriately managed. The thioredoxin (Trx) system, comprised of Trx, thioredoxin reductase (TrxR), and NADPH, is an antioxidant system previously identified as a target for therapies aimed at overcoming drug resistance in other cancers. We assessed the effectiveness of TrxR inhibitors on drug resistant CML cells and examined links between TrxR and the bcr-abl cell-signalling pathway. Two TrxR inhibitors, auranofin and [Au(d2pype)2]Cl, increased intracellular ROS levels and elicited apoptosis in both sensitive and imatinib resistant CML cells. Inhibition of TrxR activity by these pharmacological inhibitors, or by specific siRNA, also resulted in decreased bcr-abl mRNA and protein levels, and lower bcr-abl downstream signalling activity, potentially enhancing the effectiveness of TrxR inhibitors as CML therapies. In addition, imatinib resistant CML cell lines showed upregulated expression of the Trx system. Furthermore, analysis of datasets showed that CML patients who did not respond to imatinib had higher Trx mRNA levels than patients who responded to treatment. Our study demonstrates a link between the Trx system and the bcr-abl protein and highlights the therapeutic potential of targeting the Trx system to improve CML patients' outcomes.