Date: 18 Nov 2013
BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) have dramatically improved therapy for chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). However, several problems leading to TKI resistance still impede a complete cure of this disease. IFN regulatory factor-8 (IRF8) is a transcription factor essential for the development and functions of immune cells, including dendritic cells. Irf8−/− mice develop a CML-like disease and IRF8 expression is downregulated in patients with CML, suggesting that IRF8 is involved in the pathogenesis of CML. In this study, by using a murine CML model, we show that BCR-ABL strongly inhibits a generation of dendritic cells from an early stage of their differentiation in vivo, concomitant with suppression of Irf8 expression. Forced expression of IRF8 overrode BCR-ABL (both wild-type and T315I-mutated) to rescue dendritic cell development in vitro, indicating that the suppression of Irf8 causes dendritic cell deficiency. Gene expression profiling revealed that IRF8 restored the expression of a significant portion of BCR-ABL–dysregulated genes and predicted that BCR-ABL has immune-stimulatory potential. Indeed, IRF8-rescued BCR-ABL–expressing dendritic cells were capable of inducing CTLs more efficiently than control dendritic cells. Altogether, our findings suggest that IRF8 is an attractive target in next-generation therapies for CML.