He, B.L., Shi, X., Man, C.H., Ma, A.C., Ekker, S.C., Chow, H.C., So, C.W., Choi, W.W., Zhang, W., Zhang, Y., and Leung, A.Y. (2014) Functions of FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (flt3) in zebrafish hematopoiesis and its relevance to human acute myeloid leukemia. Blood. 123(16):2518-29.
FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) is expressed in human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) but its role during
embryogenesis is unclear. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML), internal tandem duplication (ITD) of FLT3 at the juxtamembrane
(JMD) and tyrosine kinase (TKD) domains (FLT3-ITD+) occurs in 30% patients and is associated with inferior clinical prognosis.
TKD mutations (FLT3-TKD+) occur in 5% cases. We made use of zebrafish to examine the role of flt3 in developmental hematopoiesis
and model human FLT3-ITD+ and FLT3-TKD+ AML. Zebrafish flt3 JMD and TKD were remarkably similar to their mammalian orthologs.
Morpholino knock-down significantly reduced the expression of l-plastin (pan-leukocyte), csf1r and mpeg1 (macrophage) as well as that of c-myb (definitive HSPC), lck and rag1 (T-lymphocyte). Expressing human FLT3-ITD in zebrafish embryos resulted in expansion and clustering of myeloid cells (pu.1+, mpo+, and cebpα+) which were ameliorated by AC220 and associated with stat5, erk1/2, and akt phosphorylation. Human FLT3-TKD (D835Y) induced
significant, albeit modest, myeloid expansion resistant to AC220. This study provides novel insight to the role of flt3 during
hematopoiesis and establishes a zebrafish model of FLT3-ITD+ and FLT3-TKD+ AML that may facilitate high throughput screening
of novel and personalized agents.