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The CDK9 Inhibitor Dinaciclib Exerts Potent Apoptotic and Antitumor Effects in Preclinical Models of MLL-Rearranged Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Translocations of the mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene occur in 60% to 80% of all infant acute leukemias and are markers of poor prognosis. MLL-AF9 and other MLL fusion proteins aberrantly recruit epigenetic regulatory proteins, including histone deacetylases (HDAC), histone methyltransferases, bromodomain-containing proteins, and transcription elongation factors to mediate chromatin remodeling and regulate tumorigenic gene expression programs. We conducted a small-molecule inhibitor screen to test the ability of candidate pharmacologic agents targeting epigenetic and transcriptional regulatory proteins to induce apoptosis in leukemic cells derived from genetically engineered mouse models of MLL-AF9-driven acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We found that the CDK inhibitor dinaciclib and HDAC inhibitor panobinostat were the most potent inducers of apoptosis in short-term in vitro assays. Treatment of MLL-rearranged leukemic cells with dinaciclib resulted in rapidly decreased expression of the prosurvival protein Mcl-1, and accordingly, overexpression of Mcl-1 protected AML cells from dinaciclib-induced apoptosis. Administration of dinaciclib to mice bearing MLL-AF9-driven human and mouse leukemias elicited potent antitumor responses and significantly prolonged survival. Collectively, these studies highlight a new therapeutic approach to potentially overcome the resistance of MLL-rearranged AML to conventional chemotherapies and prompt further clinical evaluation of CDK inhibitors in AML patients harboring MLL fusion proteins.

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S1230 Flavopiridol (Alvocidib) Flavopiridol (Alvocidib) competes with ATP to inhibit CDKs including CDK1, CDK2, CDK4, CDK6, and CDK9 with IC50 values in the 20-100 nM range. It is more selective for CDK1, 2, 4, 6, 9 versus CDK7. Flavopiridol is initially found to inhibit EGFR and PKA. Phase 1/2. (22) (5)

Related Targets

CDK