Receptor tyrosine kinase KIT is frequently activated in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). While high PRL2 (PTP4A2) expression is correlated with activation of SCF/KIT signaling in AML, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. We discovered that inhibition of PRL2 significantly reduces the burden of oncogenic KIT-driven leukemia and extends leukemic mice survival. PRL2 enhances oncogenic KIT signaling in leukemia cells, promoting their proliferation and survival. We found that PRL2 dephosphorylates CBL at tyrosine 371 and inhibits its activity toward KIT, leading to decreased KIT ubiquitination and enhanced AKT and ERK signaling in leukemia cells.
Our studies uncover a novel mechanism that fine-tunes oncogenic KIT signaling in leukemia cells and will likely identify PRL2 as a novel therapeutic target in AML with KIT mutations.