Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Biology (Cell Biology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology)

Major Professor

Gary W. Reuther


cholesterol, JAK2-V617F, JAK inhibitor, lipid rafts, myeloproliferative neoplasms, statins


The Mevalonate Pathway: A Potential Therapeutic Target for JAK2-driven Myeloproliferative Neoplasms

Lori Nicole Griner


Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are diseases of hematopoietic stem cell origin and are characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells of the myeloid compartment. The Philadelphia chromosome negative classical MPNs, including polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, and myelofibrosis, are diseases of dysregulated JAK2 signaling. In fact, the majority of MPN patients have activating mutations in JAK2 (e.g JAK2-V617F), a tyrosine kinase that contributes to the growth and survival of myeloid cells. While MPNs were first described over sixty years ago, a significant need remains to develop therapeutic strategies for them. Inhibitors of JAK2 are currently being developed, and one inhibitor, ruxolitinib, was recently approved for certain MPN patients. Ruxolitinib has made profound impacts on improving splenomegaly and constitutional symptoms in MPN patients, but it and other JAK2 inhibitors have not significantly reduced the JAK2 mutant allele burden, and thus such inhibitors have not induced remission in these patients. The current consensus in the MPN field supports JAK inhibition for the treatment of patients, but a further understanding of MPNs and JAK2 signaling, as well as improved JAK2 inhibitors, may be necessary for treating MPN patients.

The work described in this dissertation has uncovered novel requirements for JAK2-V617F-driven signaling and transformation. We demonstrate that JAK2-V617F co-localizes with lipid rafts, cholesterol-rich microdomains within the plasma membrane that function to serve as platforms for signaling complex formation. Signaling complex formation is a necessary component for dysregulated signaling induced by JAK2-V617F. We provide evidence that cholesterol altering-lipid raft disrupting agents attenuate JAK2-V617F-driven signaling. We also show that cholesterol-lowering statins are effective at downregulating JAK2 signaling and inducing apoptosis in JAK2-V617F-driven cell lines. Importantly, we show that statins, inhibitors of the mevalonate pathway, inhibit the growth of primary MPN cells, while the same statin doses have no effect on healthy controls. Impressively, we demonstrate that statins cooperate with multiple JAK inhibitors, including ruxolitinib, to inhibit cell growth and induce apoptosis of JAK2-V617F-driven cells.

This report establishes statin-mediated inhibition of the mevalonate pathway as a potential approach to improve MPN therapeutics. We propose future studies with statins and JAK2 inhibitors in the treatment of MPNs.

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