A dose-dependent tug of war involving the NPM1 leukaemic mutant, nucleophosmin, and ARF

N. Bolli, M. F. De Marco, M. P. Martelli, B. Bigerna, A. Pucciarini, R. Rossi, R. Mannucci, N. Manes, V. Pettirossi, S. A. Pileri, I. Nicoletti, B. Falini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), nucleophosmin-1 (NPM1) mutations create a nuclear export signal (NES) motif and disrupt tryptophans at NPM1 C-terminus, leading to nucleophosmin accumulation in leukaemic cell cytoplasm. We investigated how nucleophosmin NES motifs (two physiological and one created by the mutation) regulate traffic and interaction of mutated NPM1, NPM1wt and p14ARF. Nucleophosmin export into cytoplasm was maximum when the protein contained all three NES motifs, as naturally occurs in NPM1-mutated AML. The two physiological NES motifs mediated NPM1 homo/heterodimerization, influencing subcellular distribution of NPM1wt, mutated NPM1 and p14ARF in a 'dose-dependent tug of war' fashion. In transfected cells, excess doses of mutant NPM1 relocated completely NPM1wt (and p14ARF) from the nucleoli to the cytoplasm. This distribution pattern was also observed in a proportion of NPM1-mutated AML patients. In transfected cells, excess of NPM1wt (and p14ARF) relocated NPM1 mutant from the cytoplasm to the nucleoli. Notably, this distribution pattern was not observed in AML patients where the mutant was consistently cytoplasmic restricted. These findings reinforce the concept that NPM1 mutants are naturally selected for most efficient cytoplasmic export, pointing to this event as critical for leukaemogenesis. Moreover, they provide a rationale basis for designing small molecules acting at the interface between mutated NPM1 and other interacting proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-509
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Cancer Research
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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