Ph.D. Baylor College of Medicine
High-frequency relapse remains a clinical hurdle for complete remission of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) patients, with heterogeneous dysregulated signaling profiles—including of Raf-MEK-ERK and Akt-mTORC1-S6K signaling pathways—recently being implicated in disease outcomes. Here we report that GM-CSF/IL-3/IL-5 receptor common β-chain-associated protein (CBAP) is highly expressed in human T-ALL cell lines and many primary tumor tissues and is required to bolster leukemia cell proliferation in tissue culture and for in vivo leukemogenesis in a xenograft mouse model. Downregulation of CBAP markedly restrains expansion of leukemia cells and alleviates disease aggravation of leukemic mice. Transcriptomic profiling and molecular biological analyses suggest that CBAP acts upstream of Ras and Rac1, and functions as a modulator of both Raf-MEK–ERK and Akt-mTORC1 signaling pathways to control leukemia cell growth. Specifically, CBAP facilitated Akt-dependent TSC2 phosphorylation in cell-based assays and in vitro analysis, decreased lysosomal localization of TSC2, and elevated Rheb-GTP loading and subsequent activation of mTORC1 signaling. Taken together, our findings reveal a novel oncogenic contribution of CBAP in T-ALL leukemic cells, in addition to its original pro-apoptotic function in cytokine-dependent cell lines and primary hematopoietic cells, by demonstrating its functional role in the regulation of Akt-TSC2-mTORC1 signaling for leukemia cell proliferation. Thus, CBAP represents a novel therapeutic target for many types of cancers and metabolic diseases linked to PI3K-Akt-mTORC1 signaling.