Gene Summary

Gene:PIM2; Pim-2 proto-oncogene, serine/threonine kinase
Summary:This gene encodes a protooncogene that acts as a serine/threonine protein kinase. Studies determined the encoded protein functions to prevent apoptosis and to promote cell survival.[provided by RefSeq, Nov 2009]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:serine/threonine-protein kinase pim-2
Source:NCBIAccessed: 29 August, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 29 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 29 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: PIM2 (cancer-related)

Kapelko-Słowik K, Dybko J, Grzymajło K, et al.
Expression of the PIM2 gene is associated with more aggressive clinical course in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Adv Clin Exp Med. 2019; 28(3):391-396 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The PIM2 gene belongs to the PIM family, which encodes serine/threonine kinases involved in cell survival and apoptosis. The relation between the expression of the PIM2 gene and the course of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has not been fully determined.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to evaluate the role of the PIM2 gene as a marker of CLL malignancy and its importance as a predictive and prognostic factor.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Sixty-seven patients, 35 females and 32 males, aged 49-90 years, with de novo CLL, and 14 healthy individuals were enrolled in the study. Expression of the PIM2 gene was analyzed using TaqMan RQ-PCR assay and western blot test.
RESULTS: Median PIM2 gene expression in CLL patients was higher than in controls. Patients with high expression of the PIM2 gene had shorter progression-free survival and time to first treatment than patients with low PIM2 expression. It was found that patients with CR had lower expression of the PIM2 gene than patients without complete remission (CR). Notably, associations between high PIM2 expression and rapid lymphocyte doubling time, the percentage of malignant lymphocytes with ZAP70 expression and the Rai stage were revealed.
CONCLUSIONS: We found that the PIM2 gene is associated with a more aggressive clinical course of CLL.

Xin H, Deng Y, Cao J
Proviral insertion in murine lymphomas 2 promotes stomach cancer progression by regulating apoptosis via reactive oxygen species-triggered endoplasmic reticulum stress.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018; 506(1):145-152 [PubMed] Related Publications
Gastric cancer is one of the most fatal cancers worldwide. The incidence and death rates are still increasing for gastric cancer. Increasing studies have shown that proviral insertion in murine lymphomas 2 (PIM2) functions as critical regulator of multiple cancers. However, it remains unknown whether and how PIM2 regulates gastric cancer progression. In this study, PIM2 was increased in the gastric cancer tissues of patients. Patients with high PIM2 expression levels had significantly shorter survival than those with low PIM2 expression. PIM2 knockdown reduced proliferation, migration and invasion in vitro by up-regulating E-cadherin, and down-regulating N-cadherin and Vimentin. Knockdown of PIM2 induced apoptosis in gastric cancer cells, which was regulated by endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, as evidenced by the increased expression levels of Activating transcription factor (ATF) 6, ATF4, X-box- binding protein-1 (XBP-1) and C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP). In addition, our data showed that PIM2 silence induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, leading to the activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Importantly, we found that PIM2 knockdown-induced apoptosis and ER stress could be abolished by reducing reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. In vivo, PIM2 knockdown showed a significant reduction in SGC-7901 xenograft tumor size. In summary, our findings provided experimental evidence that PIM2 might function as an important oncogene in gastric cancer, which supplied promising target for developing new therapeutic strategy in gastric cancer.

Ren C, Yang T, Qiao P, et al.
PIM2 interacts with tristetraprolin and promotes breast cancer tumorigenesis.
Mol Oncol. 2018; 12(5):690-704 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tristetraprolin (TTP) is an AU-rich element-binding protein that regulates mRNA stability and plays important roles in cancer. The mechanisms by which TTP is regulated in breast cancer are poorly understood. Using multiple biochemical approaches, we found that proviral insertion in murine lymphomas 2 (PIM2) is a novel binding partner of TTP. Interestingly, PIM2 decreased TTP protein levels independent of its kinase activity. PIM2 instead targeted TTP protein for degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Furthermore, immunohistochemical staining showed that PIM2 and TTP protein levels were negatively correlated in human breast cancer samples. Indeed, PIM2 overexpression de-repressed TTP-mediated inhibition of breast cancer cell proliferation and migration in vitro and promoted breast tumor xenograft growth in vivo. These findings demonstrate an important role for the PIM2-TTP complex in breast cancer tumorigenesis, suggesting that PIM2 may represent a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer treatment.

Hospital MA, Jacquel A, Mazed F, et al.
RSK2 is a new Pim2 target with pro-survival functions in FLT3-ITD-positive acute myeloid leukemia.
Leukemia. 2018; 32(3):597-605 [PubMed] Related Publications
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with the FLT3 internal tandem duplication (FLT3-ITD AML) accounts for 20-30% of AML cases. This subtype usually responds poorly to conventional therapies, and might become resistant to FLT3 tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) due to molecular bypass mechanisms. New therapeutic strategies focusing on resistance mechanisms are therefore urgently needed. Pim kinases are FLT3-ITD oncogenic targets that have been implicated in FLT3 TKI resistance. However, their precise biological function downstream of FLT3-ITD requires further investigation. We performed high-throughput transcriptomic and proteomic analyses in Pim2-depleted FLT3-ITD AML cells and found that Pim2 predominantly controlled apoptosis through Bax expression and mitochondria disruption. We identified ribosomal protein S6 kinase A3 (RSK2), a 90 kDa serine/threonine kinase involved in the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade encoded by the RPS6KA3 gene, as a novel Pim2 target. Ectopic expression of an RPS6KA3 allele rescued the viability of Pim2-depleted cells, supporting the involvement of RSK2 in AML cell survival downstream of Pim2. Finally, we showed that RPS6KA3 knockdown reduced the propagation of human AML cells in vivo in mice. Our results point to RSK2 as a novel Pim2 target with translational therapeutic potential in FLT3-ITD AML.

Szydłowski M, Prochorec-Sobieszek M, Szumera-Ciećkiewicz A, et al.
Expression of PIM kinases in Reed-Sternberg cells fosters immune privilege and tumor cell survival in Hodgkin lymphoma.
Blood. 2017; 130(12):1418-1429 [PubMed] Related Publications
Reed-Sternberg (RS) cells of classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) express multiple immunoregulatory proteins that shape the cHL microenvironment and allow tumor cells to evade immune surveillance. Expression of certain immunoregulatory proteins is modulated by prosurvival transcription factors, such as NFκB and STATs. Because these factors also induce expression of the oncogenic PIM1/2/3 serine/threonine kinases, and as PIMs modulate transcriptional activity of NFκB and STATs, we hypothesized that these kinases support RS cell survival and foster their immune privilege. Here, we investigated PIM1/2/3 expression in cHL and assessed their role in developing RS cell immune privilege and survival. PIM1/2/3 were ubiquitously expressed in primary and cultured RS cells, and their expression was driven by JAK-STAT and NFκB activity. Genetic or chemical PIM inhibition with a newly developed pan-PIM inhibitor, SEL24-B489, induced RS cell apoptosis. PIM inhibition decreased cap-dependent protein translation, blocked JAK-STAT signaling, and markedly attenuated NFκB-dependent gene expression. In a cHL xenograft model, SEL24-B489 delayed tumor growth by 95.8% (

Zwang Y, Jonas O, Chen C, et al.
Synergistic interactions with PI3K inhibition that induce apoptosis.
Elife. 2017; 6 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Activating mutations involving the PI3K pathway occur frequently in human cancers. However, PI3K inhibitors primarily induce cell cycle arrest, leaving a significant reservoir of tumor cells that may acquire or exhibit resistance. We searched for genes that are required for the survival of PI3K mutant cancer cells in the presence of PI3K inhibition by conducting a genome scale shRNA-based apoptosis screen in a

Thean LF, Wong YH, Lo M, et al.
Chromosome 19q13 disruption alters expressions of CYP2A7, MIA and MIA-RAB4B lncRNA and contributes to FAP-like phenotype in APC mutation-negative familial colorectal cancer patients.
PLoS One. 2017; 12(3):e0173772 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is an autosomal-dominantly inherited form of colorectal cancer (CRC) caused by mutation in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene. Our ability to exhaustively screen for APC mutations identify microsatellite-stable and APC-mutation negative familial CRC patients, enabling us to search for novel genes. We performed genome-wide scan on two affected siblings of one family and 88 ethnicity- and gender-matched healthy controls to identify deletions shared by the siblings. Combined loss of heterozygosity, copy number and allelic-specific copy number analysis uncovered 5 shared deletions. Long-range polymerase chain reaction (PCR) confirmed chromosome 19q13 deletion, which was subsequently found in one other family. The 32 kb deleted region harbors the CYP2A7 gene and was enriched with enhancer, repressor and insulator sites. The wildtype allele was lost in the polyps of the proband. Further, real-time RT-PCR assays showed that expressions of MIA and MIA-RAB4B located 35 kb upstream of the deletion, were up-regulated in the polyps compared to the matched mucosa of the proband. MIA-RAB4B, the read-through long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), RAB4B, PIM2 and TAOK1 share common binding site of a microRNA, miR-24, in their 3'UTRs. PIM2 and TAOK1, two target oncogenes of miR-24, were co-ordinately up-regulated with MIA-RAB4B in the polyps, suggesting that MIA-RAB4B could function as competitive endogenous RNA to titrate miR-24 away from its other targets. The data suggest that the 19.13 deletion disrupted chromatin boundary, leading to altered expression of several genes and lncRNA, could contribute to colorectal cancer via novel genetic and epigenetic mechanisms.

Nair JR, Caserta J, Belko K, et al.
Novel inhibition of PIM2 kinase has significant anti-tumor efficacy in multiple myeloma.
Leukemia. 2017; 31(8):1715-1726 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The PIM kinase family (PIM1, 2 and 3) have a central role in integrating growth and survival signals, and are expressed in a wide range of solid and hematological malignancies. We now confirm that PIM2 is overexpressed in multiple myeloma (MM) patients, and within MM group it is overexpressed in the high-risk MF subset (activation of proto-oncogenes MAF/MAFB). This is consistent with our finding of PIM2's role in key signaling pathways (IL-6, CD28 activation) that confer chemotherapy resistance in MM cells. These studies have identified a novel PIM2-selective non-ATP competitive inhibitor (JP11646) that has a 4 to 760-fold greater suppression of MM proliferation and viability than ATP-competitive PIM inhibitors. This increased efficacy is due not only to the inhibition of PIM2 kinase activity, but also to a novel mechanism involving specific downregulation of PIM2 mRNA and protein expression not seen with the ATP competitive inhibitors. Treatment with JP11646 in xenogeneic myeloma murine models demonstrated significant reduction in tumor burden and increased median survival. Altogether our findings suggest the existence of previously unrecognized feedback loop(s) where PIM2 kinase activity regulates PIM2 gene expression in malignant cells, and that JP11646 represents a novel class of PIM2 inhibitors that interdicts this feedback.

Jiménez-García MP, Lucena-Cacace A, Robles-Frías MJ, et al.
The role of PIM1/PIM2 kinases in tumors of the male reproductive system.
Sci Rep. 2016; 6:38079 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The PIM family of serine/threonine kinases has three highly conserved isoforms (PIM1, PIM2 and PIM3). PIM proteins are regulated through transcription and stability by JAK/STAT pathways and are overexpressed in hematological malignancies and solid tumors. The PIM kinases possess weak oncogenic abilities, but enhance other genes or chemical carcinogens to induce tumors. We generated conditional transgenic mice that overexpress PIM1 or PIM2 in male reproductive organs and analyzed their contribution to tumorigenesis. We found an increase in alterations of sexual organs and hyperplasia in the transgenic mice correlating with inflammation. We also found that PIM1/2 are overexpressed in a subset of human male germ cells and prostate tumors correlating with inflammatory features and stem cell markers. Our data suggest that PIM1/2 kinase overexpression is a common feature of male reproductive organs tumors, which provoke tissue alterations and a large inflammatory response that may act synergistically during the process of tumorigenesis. There is also a correlation with markers of cancer stem cells, which may contribute to the therapy resistance found in tumors overexpressing PIM kinases.

Mou S, Wang G, Ding D, et al.
Expression and function of PIM kinases in osteosarcoma.
Int J Oncol. 2016; 49(5):2116-2126 [PubMed] Related Publications
The provirus integrating site Moloney murine leukemia virus (PIM) family of serine/threonine protein kinases is composed of three members, PIM1, PIM2 and PIM3, which have been identified as oncoproteins in various malignancies. However, their role in osteosarcoma (OS) remains largely unknown. This study aimed to examine the expression patterns and the clinical significance of PIM kinases in human OS and their biological effects in human OS cell lines. Immunohistochemical staining was used to detect PIM kinases in archived pathologic material from 43 patients with primary OS; in addition, the effects of PIM knockdown and overexpression on the proliferation, migration and invasion of OS cell lines were determined. We observed that all three PIM kinases were frequently expressed in OS, but only PIM1 positive expression was associated with poorer prognosis regarding overall survival of OS patients. In addition, knockdown of PIM kinases notably inhibited OS cell proliferation, migration and invasiveness, whereas overexpression of PIM kinases resulted in increased OS cell growth and motility. This study suggests that PIM1 could be a valuable prognostic marker in patients with OS, and the biological functions of PIM kinase family in the osteosarcoma cell lines indicate that they could serve as potential therapeutic targets for OS.

Ramachandran J, Santo L, Siu KT, et al.
Pim2 is important for regulating DNA damage response in multiple myeloma cells.
Blood Cancer J. 2016; 6(8):e462 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Pan proviral integrations of Moloney virus (PIM) inhibition in multiple myeloma (MM) results in reduced cell viability in tested human-derived MM cell lines and reduces tumor burden in xenograft mouse models, making PIMs important therapeutic targets for the disease. PIM kinase inhibitors are currently being tested clinically in MM. We sought to elucidate the role of the various PIMs in MM. Our data demonstrate that Pim2 has a significant role in MM cell cytotoxicity. Our data provide evidence for a novel role for Pim2 in the regulation of the DNA damage response (DDR). Knockdown of Pim2 upregulates several downstream DDR markers, mimicking the effects of doxorubicin (Dox) treatment of MM cells, and suggesting a role for the kinase as a negative regulator of this pathway. Dox-induced DNA damage results in a decrease in Pim2 levels, placing the kinase directly downstream of the site of Dox-DNA binding. Overexpression of Pim2 confers a slight survival advantage against Dox through antiapoptotic activity, further underscoring its relevance in the DDR pathway. These data provide insights into a novel mechanism of PIM kinase activity and provide the framework for designing therapeutic approaches in MM.

Shannan B, Watters A, Chen Q, et al.
PIM kinases as therapeutic targets against advanced melanoma.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(34):54897-54912 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Therapeutic strategies for the treatment of metastatic melanoma show encouraging results in the clinic; however, not all patients respond equally and tumor resistance still poses a challenge. To identify novel therapeutic targets for melanoma, we screened a panel of structurally diverse organometallic inhibitors against human-derived normal and melanoma cells. We observed that a compound that targets PIM kinases (a family of Ser/Thr kinases) preferentially inhibited melanoma cell proliferation, invasion, and viability in adherent and three-dimensional (3D) melanoma models. Assessment of tumor tissue from melanoma patients showed that PIM kinases are expressed in pre- and post-treatment tumors, suggesting PIM kinases as promising targets in the clinic. Using knockdown studies, we showed that PIM1 contributes to melanoma cell proliferation and tumor growth in vivo; however, the presence of PIM2 and PIM3 could also influence the outcome. The inhibition of all PIM isoforms using SGI-1776 (a clinically-available PIM inhibitor) reduced melanoma proliferation and survival in preclinical models of melanoma. This was potentiated in the presence of the BRAF inhibitor PLX4720 and in the presence of PI3K inhibitors. Our findings suggest that PIM inhibitors provide promising additions to the targeted therapies available to melanoma patients.

Kapelko-Slowik K, Owczarek TB, Grzymajlo K, et al.
Elevated PIM2 gene expression is associated with poor survival of patients with acute myeloid leukemia.
Leuk Lymphoma. 2016; 57(9):2140-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
The PIM2 gene encodes the serine/threonine kinase involved in cell survival and apoptosis. The aim of the study was to evaluate the expression of the PIM2 gene in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and to examine its role in apoptosis of the blastic cells. We analyzed the PIM2 expression in 148 patients: 91 with AML, 57 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 24 healthy controls by Real-Time PCR and Western blot. Inhibition of the PIM2 gene in human leukemic HL60 cell line was performed with RNAi and apoptosis rate was analyzed. Our results indicate that overexpression of PIM2 in AML is associated with low complete remission rate, high-risk cytogenetics, shorter leukemia-free survival, and event-free survival. Cytometric analysis of HL60/PAC-GFP and HL60/PAC-GFP-shPIM2 cells revealed an increase in the number of apoptotic cells after inhibition of PIM2 gene. In summary, the elevated expression of PIM2 in blastic cells is associated with poor prognosis of AML patients and their resistance to induction therapy.

Kreuz S, Holmes KB, Tooze RM, Lefevre PF
Loss of PIM2 enhances the anti-proliferative effect of the pan-PIM kinase inhibitor AZD1208 in non-Hodgkin lymphomas.
Mol Cancer. 2015; 14:205 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: A promising therapeutic approach for aggressive B-cell Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), and Burkitt lymphoma (BL) is to target kinases involved in signal transduction and gene regulation. PIM1/2 serine/threonine kinases are highly expressed in activated B-cell-like DLBCL (ABC-DLBCL) with poor prognosis. In addition, both PIM kinases have a reported synergistic effect with c-MYC in mediating tumour development in several cancers, c-MYC gene being translocated to one of the immunoglobulin loci in nearly all BLs.
METHODS: For these reasons, we tested the efficiency of several PIM kinase inhibitors (AZD1208, SMI4a, PIM1/2 inhibitor VI and Quercetagetin) in preventing proliferation of aggressive NHL-derived cell lines and compared their efficiency with PIM1 and/or PIM2 knockdown.
RESULTS: We observed that most of the anti-proliferative potential of these inhibitors in NHL was due to an off-target effect. Interestingly, we present evidence of a kinase-independent function of PIM2 in regulating cell cycle. Moreover, combining AZD1208 treatment and PIM2 knockdown additively repressed cell proliferation.
CONCLUSION: Taken together, this study suggests that at least a part of PIM1/2 oncogenic potential could be independent of their kinase activity, justifying the limited anti-tumorigenic outcome of PIM-kinase inhibitors in NHL.

Adam K, Lambert M, Lestang E, et al.
Control of Pim2 kinase stability and expression in transformed human haematopoietic cells.
Biosci Rep. 2015; 35(6) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The oncogenic Pim2 kinase is overexpressed in several haematological malignancies, such as multiple myeloma and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), and constitutes a strong therapeutic target candidate. Like other Pim kinases, Pim2 is constitutively active and is believed to be essentially regulated through its accumulation. We show that in leukaemic cells, the three Pim2 isoforms have dramatically short half-lives although the longer isoform is significantly more stable than the shorter isoforms. All isoforms present a cytoplasmic localization and their degradation was neither modified by broad-spectrum kinase or phosphatase inhibitors such as staurosporine or okadaic acid nor by specific inhibition of several intracellular signalling pathways including Erk, Akt and mTORC1. Pim2 degradation was inhibited by proteasome inhibitors but Pim2 ubiquitination was not detected even by blocking both proteasome activity and protein de-ubiquitinases (DUBs). Moreover, Pyr41, an ubiquitin-activating enzyme (E1) inhibitor, did not stabilize Pim2, strongly suggesting that Pim2 was degraded by the proteasome without ubiquitination. In agreement, we observed that purified 20S proteasome particles could degrade Pim2 molecule in vitro. Pim2 mRNA accumulation in UT7 cells was controlled by erythropoietin (Epo) through STAT5 transcription factors. In contrast, the translation of Pim2 mRNA was not regulated by mTORC1. Overall, our results suggest that Pim2 is only controlled by its mRNA accumulation level. Catalytically active Pim2 accumulated in proteasome inhibitor-treated myeloma cells. We show that Pim2 inhibitors and proteasome inhibitors, such as bortezomib, have additive effects to inhibit the growth of myeloma cells, suggesting that Pim2 could be an interesting target for the treatment of multiple myeloma.

Zhang XH, Yu HL, Wang FJ, et al.
Pim-2 Modulates Aerobic Glycolysis and Energy Production during the Development of Colorectal Tumors.
Int J Med Sci. 2015; 12(6):487-93 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tumor cells have higher rates of glucose uptake and aerobic glycolysis to meet energy demands for proliferation and metastasis. The characteristics of increased glucose uptake, accompanied with aerobic glycolysis, has been exploited for the diagnosis of cancers. Although much progress has been made, the mechanisms regulating tumor aerobic glycolysis and energy production are still not fully understood. Here, we demonstrate that Pim-2 is required for glycolysis and energy production in colorectal tumor cells. Our results show that Pim-2 is highly expressed in colorectal tumor cells, and may be induced by nutrient stimulation. Activation of Pim-2 in colorectal cells led to increase glucose utilization and aerobic glycolysis, as well as energy production. While knockdown of Pim-2 decreased energy production in colorectal tumor cells and increased their susceptibility to apoptosis. Moreover, the effects of Pim-2 kinase on aerobic glycolysis seem to be partly dependent on mTORC1 signaling, because inhibition of mTORC1 activity reversed the aerobic glycolysis mediated by Pim-2. Our findings suggest that Pim-2-mediated aerobic glycolysis is critical for monitoring Warburg effect in colorectal tumor cells, highlighting Pim-2 as a potential metabolic target for colorectal tumor therapy.

Wang L, Yao ZQ, Moorman JP, et al.
Gene expression profiling identifies IRF4-associated molecular signatures in hematological malignancies.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(9):e106788 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The lymphocyte-specific transcription factor Interferon (IFN) Regulatory Factor 4 (IRF4) is implicated in certain types of lymphoid and myeloid malignancies. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying its interactions with these malignancies are largely unknown. In this study, we have first profiled molecular signatures associated with IRF4 expression in associated cancers, by analyzing existing gene expression profiling datasets. Our results show that IRF4 is overexpressed in melanoma, in addition to previously reported contexts including leukemia, myeloma, and lymphoma, and that IRF4 is associated with a unique gene expression pattern in each context. A pool of important genes involved in B-cell development, oncogenesis, cell cycle regulation, and cell death including BATF, LIMD1, CFLAR, PIM2, and CCND2 are common signatures associated with IRF4 in non-Hodgkin B cell lymphomas. We confirmed the correlation of IRF4 with LIMD1 and CFLAR in a panel of cell lines derived from lymphomas. Moreover, we profiled the IRF4 transcriptome in the context of EBV latent infection, and confirmed several genes including IFI27, IFI44, GBP1, and ARHGAP18, as well as CFLAR as novel targets for IRF4. These results provide valuable information for understanding the IRF4 regulatory network, and improve our knowledge of the unique roles of IRF4 in different hematological malignancies.

Meja K, Stengel C, Sellar R, et al.
PIM and AKT kinase inhibitors show synergistic cytotoxicity in acute myeloid leukaemia that is associated with convergence on mTOR and MCL1 pathways.
Br J Haematol. 2014; 167(1):69-79 [PubMed] Related Publications
PIM kinases (PIM1, 2 and 3) are involved in cell proliferation and survival signalling and are emerging targets for the therapy of various malignancies. We found that a significant proportion of primary acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) samples showed PIM1 and PIM2 expression by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Therefore, we investigated the effects of a novel ATP-competitive pan-PIM inhibitor, AZD1897, on AML cell growth and survival. PIM inhibition showed limited single agent activity in AML cell lines and primary AML cells, including those with or without FLT3-internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutation. However, significant synergy was seen when AZD1897 was combined with the Akt inhibitor AZD5363, a compound that is in early-phase clinical trials. AML cells from putative leukaemia stem cell subsets, including CD34+38- and CD34+38+ fractions, were equivalently affected by dual PIM/Akt inhibition when compared with bulk tumour cells. Analysis of downstream signalling pathways showed that combined PIM/Akt inhibition downregulated mTOR outputs (phosphorylation of 4EBP1 and S6) and markedly reduced levels of the anti-apoptotic protein MCL1. The combination of PIM and Akt inhibition holds promise for the treatment of AML.

Decker S, Finter J, Forde AJ, et al.
PIM kinases are essential for chronic lymphocytic leukemia cell survival (PIM2/3) and CXCR4-mediated microenvironmental interactions (PIM1).
Mol Cancer Ther. 2014; 13(5):1231-45 [PubMed] Related Publications
Overexpression of the CXCR4 receptor is a hallmark of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and is important for CLL cell survival, migration, and interaction with their protective microenvironment. In acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), PIM1 was shown to regulate the surface expression of the CXCR4 receptor. Here, we show that PIM (proviral integration site for Moloney murine leukemia virus) kinases 1-3 are overexpressed and that the CXCR4 receptor is hyperphosphorylated on Ser339 in CLL compared with normal lymphocytes. Furthermore, CXCR4 phosphorylation correlates with PIM1 protein expression and PIM1 transcript levels in CLL. PIM kinase inhibition with three different PIM kinase inhibitors induced apoptosis in CLL cells independent of the presence of protective stromal cells. In addition, PIM inhibition caused dephosphorylation of the CXCR4 receptor on Ser339, resulting in enhanced ligand-dependent CXCR4 internalization and reduced re-externalization after withdrawal of CXCL12. Furthermore, PIM inhibition in CLL cells blocked CXCR4 functions, such as migration toward CXCL12- or CXCL12-induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation. In concordance, pretreatment of CLL cells with PIM kinase inhibitors strongly reduced homing of CLL cells toward the bone marrow and the spleen of Rag2(-/-)γc(-/-) mice in vivo. Interestingly, the knockdown of PIM kinases in CLL cells demonstrated diverging functions, with PIM1 regulating CXCR4 surface expression and PIM2 and PIM3 as important for the survival of CLL cells. Our results show that PIM kinase inhibitors are an effective therapeutic option for CLL, not only by impairing PIM2/3-mediated CLL cell survival, but also by blocking the PIM1/CXCR4-mediated interaction of CLL cells with their protective microenvironment.

Yu Z, Zhao X, Ge Y, et al.
A regulatory feedback loop between HIF-1α and PIM2 in HepG2 cells.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(2):e88301 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
To survive under hypoxic conditions, cancer cells remodel glucose metabolism to support tumor progression. HIF transcription factor is essential for cellular response to hypoxia. The underlying mechanism how HIF is constitutively activated in cancer cells remains elusive. In the present study, we characterized a regulatory feedback loop between HIF-1α and PIM2 in HepG2 cells. Serine/threonine kinase proto-oncogene PIM2 level was induced upon hypoxia in a HIF-1α-mediated manner in cancer cells. HIF-1α induced PIM2 expression via binding to the hypoxia-responsive elements (HREs) of the PIM2 promoter. In turn, PIM2 interacted with HIF-1α, especially a transactivation domain of HIF-1α. PIM2 as a co-factor but not an upstream kinase of HIF-1α, enhanced HIF-1α effect in response to hypoxia. The positive feedback loop between PIM2 and HIF-1α was correlated with glucose metabolism as well as cell survival in HepG2 cells. Such a regulatory mode may be important for the adaptive responses of cancer cells in antagonizing hypoxia during cancer progression.

Yu Z, Zhao X, Huang L, et al.
Proviral insertion in murine lymphomas 2 (PIM2) oncogene phosphorylates pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) and promotes glycolysis in cancer cells.
J Biol Chem. 2013; 288(49):35406-16 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Pyruvate kinase M2 (PKM2) is a key player in the Warburg effect of cancer cells. However, the mechanisms of regulating PKM2 are not fully elucidated. Here, we identified the protein-serine/threonine kinase PIM2, a known oncogene, as a novel binding partner of PKM2. The interaction between PIM2 and PKM2 was confirmed by multiple biochemical approaches in vitro and in cultured cells. Importantly, we found that PIM2 could directly phosphorylate PKM2 on the Thr-454 residue, resulting in an increase of PKM2 protein levels. Compared with wild type, PKM2 with the phosphorylation-defective mutation displayed a reduced effect on glycolysis, co-activating HIF-1α and β-catenin, and cell proliferation, while enhancing mitochondrial respiration of cancer cells. These findings demonstrate that PIM2-dependent phosphorylation of PKM2 is critical for regulating the Warburg effect in cancer, highlighting PIM2 as a potential therapeutic target.

Leclerc GM, Leclerc GJ, Kuznetsov JN, et al.
Metformin induces apoptosis through AMPK-dependent inhibition of UPR signaling in ALL lymphoblasts.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(8):e74420 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The outcome of patients with resistant phenotypes of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or those who relapse remains poor. We investigated the mechanism of cell death induced by metformin in Bp- and T-ALL cell models and primary cells, and show that metformin effectively induces apoptosis in ALL cells. Metformin activated AMPK, down-regulated the unfolded protein response (UPR) demonstrated by significant decrease in the main UPR regulator GRP78, and led to UPR-mediated cell death via up-regulation of the ER stress/UPR cell death mediators IRE1α and CHOP. Using shRNA, we demonstrate that metformin-induced apoptosis is AMPK-dependent since AMPK knock-down rescued ALL cells, which correlated with down-regulation of IRE1α and CHOP and restoration of the UPR/GRP78 function. Additionally rapamycin, a known inhibitor of mTOR-dependent protein synthesis, rescued cells from metformin-induced apoptosis and down-regulated CHOP expression. Finally, metformin induced PIM-2 kinase activity and co-treatment of ALL cells with a PIM-1/2 kinase inhibitor plus metformin synergistically increased cell death, suggesting a buffering role for PIM-2 in metformin's cytotoxicity. Similar synergism was seen with agents targeting Akt in combination with metformin, supporting our original postulate that AMPK and Akt exert opposite regulatory roles on UPR activity in ALL. Taken together, our data indicate that metformin induces ALL cell death by triggering ER and proteotoxic stress and simultaneously down-regulating the physiologic UPR response responsible for effectively buffering proteotoxic stress. Our findings provide evidence for a role of metformin in ALL therapy and support strategies targeting synthetic lethal interactions with Akt and PIM kinases as suitable for future consideration for clinical translation in ALL.

Kapelko-Słowik K, Urbaniak-Kujda D, Wołowiec D, et al.
Expression of PIM-2 and NF-κB genes is increased in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and is associated with complete remission rate and overall survival.
Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2013; 67:553-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: PIM-2 is a proto-oncogene that encodes for a serine/threonine kinase that interacts with various signaling molecules. PIM-2 is highly expressed in neoplastic tissues and in leukemic and lymphoma cell lines, which is consistent with its role during oncogenic transformation. The nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) pathway appears to be deregulated in a variety of tumors, with sustained activity of NF-κB leading to apoptotic resistance in tumor cells. The aim of this study was to investigate whether expression of PIM-2 and NF-κB is altered in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
PATIENTS AND METHODS: One hundred forty-three patients were included: 91 with AML and 52 with ALL, aged 18-84 (median 46.7). Eighty-three patients (51 AML and 32 ALL) reached complete remission (CR). Bone marrow samples were collected at the time of diagnosis. Control samples were obtained from 24 healthy donors. We analyzed PIM-2 and NF-κB expression by RQ-PCR analysis.
RESULTS: Expression of both PIM-2 and NF-κB in all leukemia patients and subgroups was significantly higher than in controls. AML patients who reached CR expressed PIM-2 and NF-κB at significantly lower levels than did patients with primary resistance to chemotherapy and who did not reach CR (NCR). Survival analysis revealed that in AML patients with higher expression of PIM-2 the overall survival (OS) was significantly shorter than in patients with lower expression.
CONCLUSION: Our data indicate that PIM-2 and NF-κB gene expression is increased in patients with AML and ALL. Moreover, high PIM-2 expression is associated with CR rate and OS in AML patients.

Yang Q, Chen LS, Neelapu SS, et al.
Transcription and translation are primary targets of Pim kinase inhibitor SGI-1776 in mantle cell lymphoma.
Blood. 2012; 120(17):3491-500 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Proviral integration site for Moloney murine leukemia virus (Pim) kinases are serine/threonine/tyrosine kinases and oncoproteins that promote tumor progression. Three isoforms of Pim kinases have been identified and are known to phosphorylate numerous substrates, with regulatory functions in transcription, translation, cell cycle, and survival pathways. These kinases are involved in production, proliferation, and survival of normal B cells and are overexpressed in B-cell malignancies such as mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). SGI-1776 is a small molecule and Pim kinase inhibitor with selectivity for Pim-1. We hypothesize that Pim kinase function can be inhibited by SGI-1776 in MCL and that inhibition of phosphorylation of downstream substrates will disrupt transcriptional, translational, and cell cycle processes and promote cell death. SGI-1776 treatment in 4 MCL cell lines resulted in apoptosis induction. Phosphorylation of transcription (c-Myc) and translation targets (4E-BP1), tested in Jeko-1 and Mino, was declined. Consistent with these data, Mcl-1 and cyclin D1 protein levels were decreased. Importantly, similar to cell line data, MCL primary cells but not normal cells showed similar inhibition of substrate phosphorylation and cytotoxicity from SGI-1776 treatment. Genetic knockdown of Pim-1/Pim-2 affected similar proteins in MCL cell lines. Collectively these data demonstrate Pim kinases as therapeutic targets in MCL.

Jang SH, Chung HY
MYC and PIM2 co-expression in mouse bone marrow cells readily establishes permanent myeloid cell lines that can induce lethal myeloid sarcoma in vivo.
Mol Cells. 2012; 34(2):201-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The hematopoietic cell malignancy is one of the most prevalent type of cancer and the disease has multiple pathologic molecular signatures. Research on the origin of hematopoietic cancer stem cells and the mode of subsequent maintenance and differentiation needs robust animal models that can reproduce the transformation and differentiation event in vivo. Here, we show that co-transduction of MYC and PIM2 proto-oncogenes into mouse bone marrow cells readily establishes permanent cell lines that can induce lethal myeloid sarcoma in vivo. Unlike the previous doubly transgenic mouse model in which coexpression of MYC and PIM2 transgenes exclusively induced B cell lymphoma, we were able to show that the same combination of genes can also transform primary bone marrow myeloid cells in vitro resulting in permanent cell lines which induce myeloid sarcoma upon in vivo transplantation. By inducing cancerous transformation of fresh bone marrow cells in a controlled environment, the model we established will be useful for detailed study of the molecular events involved in initial transformation process of primary myeloid bone marrow cells and provides a model that can give insight to the molecular pathologic characteristics of human myeloid sarcoma, a rare presentation of solid tumors of undifferentiated myeloid blast cells associated with various types of myeloid leukemia.

Jiang Y, Soong TD, Wang L, et al.
Genome-wide detection of genes targeted by non-Ig somatic hypermutation in lymphoma.
PLoS One. 2012; 7(7):e40332 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The processes of somatic hypermutation (SHM) and class switch recombination introduced by activation-induced cytosine deaminase (AICDA) at the Immunoglobulin (Ig) loci are key steps for creating a pool of diversified antibodies in germinal center B cells (GCBs). Unfortunately, AICDA can also accidentally introduce mutations at bystander loci, particularly within the 5' regulatory regions of proto-oncogenes relevant to diffuse large B cell lymphomas (DLBCL). Since current methods for genomewide sequencing such as Exon Capture and RNAseq only target mutations in coding regions, to date non-Ig promoter SHMs have been studied only in a handful genes. We designed a novel approach integrating bioinformatics tools with next generation sequencing technology to identify regulatory loci targeted by SHM genome-wide. We observed increased numbers of SHM associated sequence variant hotspots in lymphoma cells as compared to primary normal germinal center B cells. Many of these SHM hotspots map to genes that have not been reported before as mutated, including BACH2, BTG2, CXCR4, CIITA, EBF1, PIM2, and TCL1A, etc., all of which have potential roles in B cell survival, differentiation, and malignant transformation. In addition, using BCL6 and BACH2 as examples, we demonstrated that SHM sites identified in these 5' regulatory regions greatly altered their transcription activities in a reporter assay. Our approach provides a first cost-efficient, genome-wide method to identify regulatory mutations and non-Ig SHM hotspots.

Alvarado Y, Giles FJ, Swords RT
The PIM kinases in hematological cancers.
Expert Rev Hematol. 2012; 5(1):81-96 [PubMed] Related Publications
The PIM genes represent a family of proto-oncogenes that encode three different serine/threonine protein kinases (PIM1, PIM2 and PIM3) with essential roles in the regulation of signal transduction cascades, which promote cell survival, proliferation and drug resistance. PIM kinases are overexpressed in several hematopoietic tumors and support in vitro and in vivo malignant cell growth and survival, through cell cycle regulation and inhibition of apoptosis. PIM kinases do not have an identified regulatory domain, which means that these proteins are constitutively active once transcribed. They appear to be critical downstream effectors of important oncoproteins and, when overexpressed, can mediate drug resistance to available agents, such as rapamycin. Recent crystallography studies reveal that, unlike other kinases, they possess a hinge region, which creates a unique binding pocket for ATP, offering a target for an increasing number of potent small-molecule PIM kinase inhibitors. Preclinical studies in models of various hematologic cancers indicate that these novel agents show promising activity and some of them are currently being evaluated in a clinical setting. In this review, we profile the PIM kinases as targets for therapeutics in hematologic malignancies.

Siu A, Virtanen C, Jongstra J
PIM kinase isoform specific regulation of MIG6 expression and EGFR signaling in prostate cancer cells.
Oncotarget. 2011; 2(12):1134-44 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The PIM family of oncogenic serine/threonine kinases regulates tumour cell proliferation. To identify proliferative signaling pathways that are regulated by PIM kinases we analyzed gene expression differences in DU-145 and PC3 prostate cancer derived cells induced by treatment with the recently developed highly selective PIM kinase inhibitor M-110. This identified 97 genes the expression of which is affected by M-110 in both cell lines. We then focused on the M-110 induced up regulation of the MIG6 gene that encodes a negative regulator of EGFR signaling. Here we show that M-110 and the structurally unrelated PIM kinase inhibitor SGI-1776 up regulate MIG6 in DU-145 and PC3 cells. Knockdown of PIM-1 but not of PIM-2 or PIM-3 also up regulates MIG6 expression, which identifies MIG6 as a PIM-1 regulated gene. In agreement with the role of MIG6 protein as a negative regulator of EGFR signaling we found that M-110 treatment inhibits EGF induced EGFR activation and the activation of the downstream ERK MAPkinase pathway. The biological significance of these findings are demonstrated by the fact that co-treatment of DU-145 or PC3 cells with the EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor Gefitinib and M-110 or SGI-1776 has synergistic inhibitory effects on cell proliferation. These experiments define a novel biological function of PIM-1 as a co-regulator of EGFR signaling and suggest that PIM inhibitors may be used in combination therapies to increase the efficacy of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Gómez-Abad C, Pisonero H, Blanco-Aparicio C, et al.
PIM2 inhibition as a rational therapeutic approach in B-cell lymphoma.
Blood. 2011; 118(20):5517-27 [PubMed] Related Publications
PIM serine/threonine kinases are overexpressed, translocated, or amplified in multiple B-cell lymphoma types. We have explored the frequency and relevance of PIM expression in different B-cell lymphoma types and investigated whether PIM inhibition could be a rational therapeutic approach. Increased expression of PIM2 was detected in subsets of mantle cell lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBLC), follicular lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma-mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue type, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and nodal marginal zone lymphoma cases. Increased PIM2 protein expression was associated with an aggressive clinical course in activated B-like-DLBCL patients. Pharmacologic and genetic inhibition of PIM2 revealed p4E-BP1(Thr37/46) and p4E-BP1(Ser65) as molecular biomarkers characteristic of PIM2 activity and indicated the involvement of PIM2 kinase in regulating mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1. The simultaneous genetic inhibition of all 3 PIM kinases induced changes in apoptosis and cell cycle. In conclusion, we show that PIM2 kinase inhibition is a rational approach in DLBCL treatment, identify appropriate biomarkers for pharmacodynamic studies, and provide a new marker for patient stratification.

Schatz JH, Oricchio E, Wolfe AL, et al.
Targeting cap-dependent translation blocks converging survival signals by AKT and PIM kinases in lymphoma.
J Exp Med. 2011; 208(9):1799-807 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
New anticancer drugs that target oncogenic signaling molecules have greatly improved the treatment of certain cancers. However, resistance to targeted therapeutics is a major clinical problem and the redundancy of oncogenic signaling pathways provides back-up mechanisms that allow cancer cells to escape. For example, the AKT and PIM kinases produce parallel oncogenic signals and share many molecular targets, including activators of cap-dependent translation. Here, we show that PIM kinase expression can affect the clinical outcome of lymphoma chemotherapy. We observe the same in animal lymphoma models. Whereas chemoresistance caused by AKT is readily reversed with rapamycin, PIM-mediated resistance is refractory to mTORC1 inhibition. However, both PIM- and AKT-expressing lymphomas depend on cap-dependent translation, and genetic or pharmacological blockade of the translation initiation complex is highly effective against these tumors. The therapeutic effect of blocking cap-dependent translation is mediated, at least in part, by decreased production of short-lived oncoproteins including c-MYC, Cyclin D1, MCL1, and the PIM1/2 kinases themselves. Hence, targeting the convergence of oncogenic survival signals on translation initiation is an effective alternative to combinations of kinase inhibitors.

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