Human chronic myelogenous leukemia cell line K-562 expresses the bcr/c-abl fusion protein which is an active protein tyrosine kinase. Multiple tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins were detected in K-562 cells by immunoblotting with a high-affinity anti-phosphotyrosine antibody. When K-562 cells were induced with hemin to progress through the erythroid differentiation pathway, reduction in the levels of these tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins was observed. This reduction in tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins was not found in another chronic myelogenous leukemia cell line which could not be induced to differentiate by hemin. This and other observations established that the reduction in protein tyrosine phosphorylation is a specific differentiation response. The bcr/c-abl protein synthesis was reduced in hemin-treated K-562 cells. Thus, erythroid differentiation of K-562 cells reduces the level of the bcr/c-abl tyrosine kinase and the phosphotyrosine content of its substrate proteins.

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Supported by grants from the American Cancer Society (MV-219), National Science Foundation (PCM-8314300), and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. J. Y. J. Wang is a Searle Scholar.

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