Cross talk between Wnt/β-catenin and Irf8 in leukemia progression and drug resistance


  • M. Scheller
  • J. Schönheit
  • K. Zimmermann
  • U. Leser
  • F. Rosenbauer
  • A. Leutz


  • Journal of Experimental Medicine


  • J Exp Med 210 (11): 2239-2256


  • Progression and disease relapse of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) depends on leukemia-initiating cells (LIC) that resist treatment. Using mouse genetics and a BCR-ABL model of CML, we observed cross talk between Wnt/{beta}-catenin signaling and the interferon-regulatory factor 8 (Irf8). In normal hematopoiesis, activation of {beta}-catenin results in up-regulation of Irf8, which in turn limits oncogenic {beta}-catenin functions. Self-renewal and myeloproliferation become dependent on {beta}-catenin in Irf8-deficient animals that develop a CML-like disease. Combined Irf8 deletion and constitutive {beta}-catenin activation result in progression of CML into fatal blast crisis, elevated leukemic potential of BCR-ABL-induced LICs, and Imatinib resistance. Interestingly, activated {beta}-catenin enhances a preexisting Irf8-deficient gene signature, identifying {beta}-catenin as an amplifier of progression-specific gene regulation in the shift of CML to blast crisis. Collectively, our data uncover Irf8 as a roadblock for {beta}-catenin-driven leukemia and imply both factors as targets in combinatorial therapy.