Activating JAK2 point mutations are implicated in the pathogenesis of myeloid and lymphoid malignancies, including high-risk B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). In preclinical studies, treatment of JAK2 mutant leukemias with type I JAK2 inhibitors (e.g., Food and Drug Administration [FDA]-approved ruxolitinib) provided limited single-agent responses, possibly due to paradoxical JAK2(Y1007/1008) hyperphosphorylation induced by these agents. To determine the importance of mutant JAK2 in B-ALL initiation and maintenance, we developed unique genetically engineered mouse models of B-ALL driven by overexpressed Crlf2 and mutant Jak2, recapitulating the genetic aberrations found in human B-ALL. While expression of mutant Jak2 was necessary for leukemia induction, neither its continued expression nor enzymatic activity was required to maintain leukemia survival and rapid proliferation. CRLF2/JAK2 mutant B-ALLs with sustained depletion or pharmacological inhibition of JAK2 exhibited enhanced expression of c-Myc and prominent up-regulation of c-Myc target genes. Combined indirect targeting of c-Myc using the BET bromodomain inhibitor JQ1 and direct targeting of JAK2 with ruxolitinib potently killed JAK2 mutant B-ALLs.
Kim, S. K., Knight, D. A., Jones, L. R., Vervoort, S., Ng, A. P., Seymour, J. F., … Johnstone, R. W. (2018). JAK2 is dispensable for maintenance of JAK2 mutant B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias. Genes and Development, 32(11–12), 849–864. https://doi.org/10.1101/gad.307504.117