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Int J Clin Exp Pathol 2011;4(2):124-133

Original Article
NPM-ALK and the JunB transcription factor regulate the expression of cytotoxic
molecules in ALK-positive, anaplastic large cell lymphoma

Joel D. Pearson, Jason K.H. Lee, Julinor T.C. Bacani, Raymond Lai, Robert J. Ingham

Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Alberta, and 3Cross
Cancer Institute, Edmonton, AB, Canada

Received January 21, 2011; accepted January 28, 2011; Epub January 30, 2011; published February 15, 2011

Abstract: Anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive, anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALK+ ALCL) is an aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma of
T/null immunophenotype that is most prevalent in children and young adults. The normal cellular counterpart of this malignancy is presumed to
be the cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL), and this is partly based on the observation that these tumour cells often express cytotoxic granules
containing Granzyme B (GzB) and Perforin. Chromosomal translocations involving the gene encoding for the ALK tyrosine kinase are also
characteristic of ALK+ ALCL, and the resulting fusion proteins (e.g. NPM-ALK) initiate signalling events important in ALK+ ALCL pathogenesis.
These events include the elevated expression of JunB; an AP-1 family transcription factor that promotes ALK+ ALCL proliferation. In this report
we demonstrate that JunB is a direct transcriptional activator of GzB and that GzB transcription is also promoted by NPM-ALK. We found that
Perforin expression was not regulated by JunB, but was promoted by NPM-ALK in some cell lines and inhibited by it in others. In conclusion,
our study makes the novel observation that signalling through NPM-ALK and JunB affect the expression of cytotoxic molecules in ALK+ ALCL.
Moreover, these findings demonstrate the expression of GzB and Perforin in this lymphoma is not solely due its presumed CTL origin, but that
oncogenic signalling is actively influencing their expression. (IJCEP1101006).

Keywords: ALK+ ALCL, JunB, NPM-ALK, Granzyme B, Perforin

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Address all correspondence to:
Dr. Robert Ingham
Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology
University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H7, Canada.
Tel: 1-780-248-1980; Fax: 1-780-492-7521