Notch signaling contributes to proliferation and tumor formation of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1-associated adult T-cell leukemia

Pancewicz J, Taylor JM, Datta A, Baydoun HH, Waldmann TA, Hermine O, Nicot C.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Sep 21;107(38):16619-24. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1010722107. Epub 2010 Sep 7.


The Notch signaling pathway plays an important role in cellular proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Unregulated activation of Notch signaling can result in excessive cellular proliferation and cancer. Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-I) is the etiological agent of adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). The disease has a dismal prognosis and is invariably fatal. In this study, we report a high frequency of constitutively activated Notch in ATL patients. We found activating mutations in Notch in more than 30% of ATL patients. These activating mutations are phenotypically different from those previously reported in T-ALL leukemias and may represent polymorphisms for activated Notch in human cancers. Compared with the exclusive activating frameshift mutations in the proline, glutamic acid, serine, and threonine (PEST) domain in T-ALLs, those in ATLs have, in addition, single-substitution mutations in this domain leading to reduced CDC4/Fbw7-mediated degradation and stabilization of the intracellular cleaved form of Notch1 (ICN1). Finally, we demonstrated that inhibition of Notch signaling by γ-secretase inhibitors reduced tumor cell proliferation and tumor formation in ATL-engrafted mice. These data suggest that activated Notch may be important to ATL pathogenesis and reveal Notch1 as a target for therapeutic intervention in ATL patients.

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