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Developments in Burkitt's lymphoma: novel cooperations in oncogenic MYC signaling

Authors Spender L, Inman G

Received 9 August 2013

Accepted for publication 23 September 2013

Published 9 January 2014 Volume 2014:6 Pages 27—38


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Lindsay C Spender, Gareth J Inman

Division of Cancer Research, Medical Research Institute, Jacqui Wood Cancer Centre, University of Dundee, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, UK

Abstract: Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) is an aggressive disorder associated with extremely high rates of cell proliferation tempered by high levels of apoptosis. Despite the high levels of cell death, the net effect is one of rapid tumor growth. The tumor arises within the germinal centers of secondary lymphoid tissues and is identifiable by translocation of the c-MYC gene into the immunoglobulin gene loci, resulting in deregulation of the proto-oncogene. Many of the major players involved in determining the development of BL have been characterized in human BL cell lines or in mouse models of MYC-driven lymphomagenesis. Both systems have been useful so far in characterizing the role of tumor suppressor genes (for example, p53), prosurvival signaling pathways, and members of the B-cell lymphoma-2 family of apoptosis regulators in determining the fate of c-MYC overexpressing B-cells, and ultimately in regulating lymphoma development. Signaling through phosphoinositide (PI)3-kinase stands out as being critical for BL cell survival. Recurrent mutations in ID3 or TCF3 (E2A) that promote signaling through PI3-kinase have recently been identified in human BL samples, and new therapeutic strategies based on coordinately targeting both the prosurvival factor, B-cell lymphoma-XL, and the PI3-kinase/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway to synergistically induced BL apoptosis have been proposed. Now, engineering both constitutive c-MYC expression and PI3-kinase activity, specifically in murine B-cells undergoing the germinal center reaction, has revealed that there is synergistic cooperation between c-MYC and PI3-kinase during BL development. The resulting tumors phenocopy the human malignancy, and acquire tertiary mutations also present in human tumors. This model may, therefore, prove useful in further studies to identify functionally relevant mutational events necessary for BL pathogenesis. This review discusses these cooperating interactions, the possible influence of BL tumor-associated viruses, and highlights potential new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: Burkitt's lymphoma, c-MYC, PI3-kinase, AKT, mTOR, Epstein–Barr virus

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