BMX kinase mediates gilteritinib resistance in FLT3-mutated AML through microenvironmental factors

Blood Advances(2022)

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Despite the clinical benefit associated with gilteritinib in relapsed/refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML), most patients eventually develop resistance through unknown mechanisms. To delineate the mechanistic basis of resistance to gilteritinib, we performed targeted sequencing and scRNASeq on primary FLT3-ITD-mutated AML samples. Co-occurring mutations in RAS pathway genes were the most common genetic abnormalities, and unresponsiveness to gilteritinib was associated with increased expression of bone marrow-derived hematopoietic cytokines and chemokines. In particular, we found elevated expression of the TEK-family kinase, BMX, in gilteritinib-unresponsive patients pre- and post-treatment. BMX contributed to gilteritinib resistance in FLT3-mutant cell lines in a hypoxia-dependent manner by promoting pSTAT5 signaling, and these phenotypes could be reversed with pharmacological inhibition and genetic knockout. We also observed that inhibition of BMX in primary FLT3-mutated AML samples decreased chemokine secretion and enhanced the activity of gilteritinib. Collectively, these findings indicate a crucial role for microenvironment-mediated factors modulated by BMX in the escape from targeted therapy and have implications for the development of novel therapeutic interventions to restore sensitivity to gilteritinib.
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