The aberrant overexpression of Wilms tumor 1 (WT1) in myeloid leukemia plays an important role in blast cell survival and resistance to chemotherapy. High expression of WT1 is also associated with relapse and shortened disease-free survival in patients. However, the mechanisms by which WT1 expression is regulated in leukemia remain unclear. Here, we report that heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90), which plays a critical role in the folding and maturation of several oncogenic proteins, associates with WT1 protein and stabilizes its expression. Pharmacologic inhibition of Hsp90 resulted in ubiquitination and subsequent proteasome-dependant degradation of WT1. RNAi-mediated silencing of WT1 reduced the survival of leukemia cells and increased the sensitivity of these cells to chemotherapy and Hsp90 inhibition. Furthermore, Hsp90 inhibitors 17-AAG [17-(allylamino)-17-demethoxygeldanamycin] and STA-9090 significantly reduced the growth of myeloid leukemia xenografts in vivo and effectively down-regulated the expression of WT1 and its downstream target proteins, c-Myc and Bcl-2. Collectively, our studies identify WT1 as a novel Hsp90 client and support the crucial role for the WT1-Hsp90 interaction in maintaining leukemia cell survival. These findings have significant implications for developing effective therapies for myeloid leukemias and offer a strategy to inhibit the oncogenic functions of WT1 by clinically available Hsp90 inhibitors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology