The aberrant tyrosine phosphorylation, either due to constitutive tyrosine kinases (TKs) or to inactivation of protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs), is a widespread feature of many cancerous cells. The BCR-ABL fusion protein, which arises from the Philadelphia chromosome, is a molecular distinct and peculiar trait of some kind of leukemia, namely Chronic Myeloid and Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and displays constitutive tyrosine kinase activity. In the chapter, we will highlight the milestones that had led to the identification of the BCR-ABL fusion gene and its role as the only molecular pathogenic event sufficient to elicit and sustain chronic myeloid leukemia. We will also discuss the effort made to unveil the molecular mechanisms of action of the chimeric tyrosine kinase that eventually lead to aberrant cell proliferation and impaired cell-death. Furthermore, we will also review the lesson learned from the selective inhibition of BCR-ABL which currently represent a breakthrough in the treatment of several tumors characterized by defective tyrosine kinase activity.
Part of the book: Advances in Precision Medicine Oncology