Expression differences of miR-142-5p between treatment-naïve chronic myeloid leukemia patients responding and non-responding to imatinib therapy suggest a link to oncogenic ABL2, SRI, cKIT and MCL1 signaling pathways critical for development of therapy resistance


Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by constitutive activity of the tyrosine kinase BCR-ABL1. Although the introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) has substantially improved patients' prognosis, drug resistance remains one of the major challenges in CML therapy. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of short non-coding RNAs acting as post-transcriptional regulators, are implicated in CML progression and drug resistance. The aim of the present study was to analyze the miRNA expression profiles of 45 treatment-naïve CML patients in chronic phase (28 peripheral blood and 17 bone marrow samples) with respect to future response to imatinib therapy.


TaqMan low density arrays were used to analyze the miRNA expression pattern of the patient samples. For selected microRNAs, reporter gene assays were performed to study their ability to regulate CML associated target genes.


Significant lower expression levels of miR-142-5p were identified in both, peripheral blood and bone marrow samples of future non-responders suggesting a potential tumor suppressor role of this miRNA. This was supported by reporter gene assays that identified the survival, proliferation and invasion promoting CML related genes ABL2, cKIT, MCL1 and SRI as targets of miR-142-5p and miR-365a-3p, the latter identified as potential biomarker in peripheral blood samples.


MiR-142-5p and to a certain extend also miR-365a-3p were able to discriminate treatment-naïve CML patients not responding to imatinib in the course of their treatment from patients, who responded to therapy. However, further large-scale studies should clarify if the identified miRNAs have the potential as predictive biomarkers for TKI resistance.


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