Ponatinib may overcome resistance of FLT3-ITD harbouring additional point mutations, notably the previously refractory F691I mutation


Correspondence: Dr. Sebastian Scholl, Abteilung Hämatologie/Onkologie, Klinik für Innere Medizin II, Erlanger Allee 101, 07740 Jena, Germany.

E-mail: sebastian.scholl@med.uni-jena.de


Fms-like tyrosine kinase (FLT3) mutations are the most frequent mutations in patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) that confer a poor prognosis. Constitutively active FLT3-ITD (internal tandem duplications) mutations define a promising target for therapeutic approaches using small molecule inhibitors. However, several point mutations of the FLT3 tyrosine kinase domain (FLT3-TKD) have been identified to mediate resistance towards FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (FLT3-TKI), including secondary mutations of FLT3. We investigated the cellular effects of the recently characterised FLT3-TKI ponatinib (AP24534) on murine myeloid cells transfected with FLT3-ITD with or without additional point mutations of the FLT3-TKD including the (so far) multi-resistant F691I mutation. Ponatinib effectively induced apoptosis not only in the parental FLT3-ITD cell line but also in all stably transfected subclones harbouring additional FLT3-TKD point mutations (N676D, F691I or G697R). These observations correlated with a strong inhibition of FLT3-ITD and its downstream targets STAT5, AKT and ERK1/2 upon ponatinib incubation, as determined by Western blotting. We conclude that ponatinib represents a promising FLT3-TKI that should be further investigated in clinical trials. The targeted therapy of FLT3-ITD-positive AML with ponatinib might be associated with a lower frequency of secondary resistance caused by acquired FLT3-TKD mutations.