A polymorphic variant of the phosphatase PTPN22 has been associated with increased risk for multiple autoimmune diseases. The risk allele is thought to function by diminishing antigen-receptor signals responsible for negative selection of autoreactive lymphocytes. We now show that PTPN22 is markedly overexpressed in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a common malignancy of autoreactive B lymphocytes. We also show that overexpression of PTPN22 significantly inhibits antigen-induced apoptosis of primary CLL cells by blocking B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling pathways that negatively regulate lymphocyte survival. More importantly, we show that PTPN22 positively regulates the antiapoptotic AKT kinase, which provides a powerful survival signal to antigen-stimulated CLL cells. This selective uncoupling of AKT from other downstream BCR signaling pathways is a result of inhibition of a negative regulatory circuit involving LYN, CD22, and SHIP. Finally, we show that PTPN22 can be effectively down-regulated by the PKC inhibitors ruboxistaurin and sotrastaurin, resulting in enhanced killing of CLL cells exposed to proapoptotic BCR stimuli. Collectively, these data suggest that PTPN22 overexpression represents a protective mechanism that allows autoantigen-activated CLL cells to escape from negative selection and indicate that this mechanism could be exploited for therapeutic purposes by targeting PTPN22 with PKC inhibitors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology