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During transformation, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are characterized by reducing apoptosis of bone marrow (BM) precursors. Mouse models of high risk (HR)-MDS and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) post-MDS using mutant NRAS and overexpression of human BCL-2, known to be poor prognostic indicators of the human diseases, were created. We have reported the efficacy of the BCL-2 inhibitor, ABT-737, on the AML post-MDS model; here, we report that this BCL-2 inhibitor also significantly extended survival of the HR-MDS mouse model, with reductions of BM blasts and lineage negative/Sca1+/KIT+ (LSK) cells. Secondary transplants showed increased survival in treated compared to untreated mice. Unlike the AML model, BCL-2 expression and RAS activity decreased following treatment and the RAS:BCL-2 complex remained in the plasma membrane. Exon-specific gene expression profiling (GEP) of HR-MDS mice showed 1952 differentially regulated genes upon treatment, including genes important for the regulation of stem cells, differentiation, proliferation, oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial function, and apoptosis; relevant in human disease. Spliceosome genes, found to be abnormal in MDS patients and downregulated in our HR-MDS model, such as Rsrc1 and Wbp4, were upregulated by the treatment, as were genes involved in epigenetic regulation, such as DNMT3A and B, upregulated upon disease progression and downregulated upon treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Mol Sci

Publication Date





ABT-737, BCL-2, HR-MDS, gene regulation