Calcineurin and GSK-3 inhibition sensitizes T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells to apoptosis through X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein degradation

V. Tosello, F. Bordin, J. Yu, Valentina Agnusdei, S. Indraccolo, G. Basso, A. Amadori, E. Piovan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The calcineurin (Cn)–nuclear factor of activated T cells signaling pathway is critically involved in many aspects of normal T-cell physiology; however, its direct implication in leukemogenesis is still ill-defined. Glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) has recently been reported to interact with Cn in neuronal cells and is implicated in MLL leukemia. Our biochemical studies clearly demonstrated that Cn was able to interact with GSK-3β in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) cells, and that this interaction was direct, leading to an increased catalytic activity of GSK-3β, possibly through autophosphorylation of Y216. Sensitivity to GSK-3 inhibitor treatment correlated with altered GSK-3β phosphorylation and was more prominent in T-ALL with Pre/Pro immunophenotype. In addition, dual Cn and GSK-3 inhibitor treatment in T-ALL cells promoted sensitization to apoptosis through proteasomal degradation of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP). Consistently, resistance to drug treatments in primary samples was strongly associated with higher XIAP protein levels. Finally, we showed that dual Cn and GSK-3 inhibitor treatment in vitro and in vivo is effective against available models of T-ALL, indicating an insofar untapped therapeutic opportunity.Leukemia advance online publication, 8 January 2016; doi:10.1038/leu.2015.335.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)812
Number of pages22
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Cancer Research
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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