Nickel pyrithione induces apoptosis in chronic myeloid leukemia cells resistant to imatinib via both Bcr/Abl-dependent and Bcr/Abl-independent mechanisms

Xiaoying Lan, Chong Zhao, Xin Chen, Peiquan Zhang, Dan Zang, Jinjie Wu, Jinghong Chen, Huidan Long, Li Yang, Hongbiao Huang, Bing Z. Carter, Xuejun Wang, Xianping Shi, Jinbao Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Acquired imatinib (IM) resistance is frequently characterized by Bcr-Abl mutations that affect IM binding and kinase inhibition in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Bcr-Abl-T315I mutation is the predominant mechanism of the acquired resistance to IM. Therefore, it is urgent to search for additional approaches and targeting strategies to overcome IM resistance. We recently reported that nickel pyrithione (NiPT) potently inhibits the ubiquitin proteasome system via targeting the 19S proteasome-associated deubiquitinases (UCHL5 and USP14), without effecting on the 20S proteasome. In this present study, we investigated the effect of NiPT, a novel proteasomal deubiquitinase inhibitor, on cell survival or apoptosis in CML cells bearing Bcr-Abl-T315I or wild-type Bcr-Abl. Methods: Cell viability was examined by MTS assay and trypan blue exclusion staining assay in KBM5, KBM5R, K562, BaF3-p210-WT, BaF3-p210-T315I cells, and CML patients' bone marrow samples treated with NiPT. Cell apoptosis in CML cells was detected with Annexin V-FITC/PI and rhodamine-123 staining followed by fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry and with western blot analyses for apoptosis-associated proteins. Expression levels of Bcr-Abl in CML cells were analyzed by using western blotting and real-time PCR. The 20S proteasome peptidase activity was measured using specific fluorogenic substrate. Active-site-directed labeling of proteasomal DUBs, as well as the phosphorylation of USP14 was used for evaluating the inhibition of the DUBs activity by NiPT. Mouse xenograft models of KBM5 and KBM5R cells were analyzed, and Bcr-Abl-related proteins and protein biomarkers related to proliferation, differentiation, and adhesion in tumor tissues were detected by western blots and/or immunohistological analyses. Results: NiPT induced apoptosis in CML cells and inhibited the growth of IM-resistant Bcr-Abl-T315I xenografts in nude mice. Mechanistically, NiPT induced decreases in Bcr-Abl proteins, which were associated with downregulation of Bcr-Abl transcription and with the cleavage of Bcr-Abl protein by activated caspases. NiPT-induced ubiquitin proteasome system inhibition induced caspase activation in both IM-resistant and IM-sensitive CML cells, and the caspase activation was required for NiPT-induced Bcr-Abl downregulation and apoptotic cell death. Conclusions: These findings support that NiPT can overcome IM resistance through both Bcr-Abl-dependent and Bcr-Abl-independent mechanisms, providing potentially a new option for CML treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number129
JournalJournal of Hematology and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 25 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Bcr-Abl
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia
  • Imatinib resistance
  • Nickel pyrithione

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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