l-Asparaginase is a key therapeutic agent for treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). There is wide individual variation in pharmacokinetics, and little is known about its metabolism. The mechanisms of therapeutic failure with l-asparaginase remain speculative. Here, we now report that 2 lysosomal cysteine proteases present in lymphoblasts are able to degrade l-asparaginase. Cathepsin B (CTSB), which is produced constitutively by normal and leukemic cells, degraded asparaginase produced by Escherichia coli (ASNase) and Erwinia chrysanthemi. Asparaginyl endopeptidase (AEP), which is overexpressed predominantly in high-risk subsets of ALL, specifically degraded ASNase. AEP thereby destroys ASNase activity and may also potentiate antigen processing, leading to allergic reactions. Using AEP-mediated cleavage sequences, we modeled the effects of the protease on ASNase and created a number of recombinant ASNase products. The N24 residue on the flexible active loop was identified as the primary AEP cleavage site. Sole modification at this site rendered ASNase resistant to AEP cleavage and suggested a key role for the flexible active loop in determining ASNase activity. We therefore propose what we believe to be a novel mechanism of drug resistance to ASNase. Our results may help to identify alternative therapeutic strategies with the potential of further improving outcome in childhood ALL.
Naina Patel, Shekhar Krishnan, Marc N. Offman, Marcin Krol, Catherine X. Moss, Carly Leighton, Frederik W. van Delft, Mark Holland, JiZhong Liu, Seema Alexander, Clare Dempsey, Hany Ariffin, Monika Essink, Tim O.B. Eden, Colin Watts, Paul A. Bates, Vaskar Saha
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. All accepted letters will be posted on our website within one week of acceptance. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors of all accepted letters will be asked to preview any changes. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were not accepted. As this is a final decision, no appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.