Targeting CAMKK2 and SOC Channels as a Novel Therapeutic Approach for Sensitizing Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia Cells to All-Trans Retinoic Acid

Faten Merhi, Karla Alvarez-Valadez, Jenifer Trepiana, Claire Lescoat, Alexis Groppi, Jean-William Dupuy, Pierre Soubeyran, Guido Kroemer, Pierre Vacher, and Mojgan Djavaheri-Mergny

Calcium ions (Ca2+) play important and diverse roles in the regulation of autophagy, cell death and differentiation. Here, we investigated the impact of Ca2+ in regulating acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) cell fate in response to the anti-cancer agent all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA). We observed that ATRA promotes calcium entry through store-operated calcium (SOC) channels into acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) cells. This response is associated with changes in the expression profiles of ORAI1 and STIM1, two proteins involved in SOC channels activation, as well as with a significant upregulation of several key proteins associated to calcium signaling. Moreover, ATRA treatment of APL cells led to a significant activation of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase 2 (CAMKK2) and its downstream effector AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), linking Ca2+ signaling to autophagy. Pharmacological inhibition of SOC channels and CAMKK2 enhanced ATRA-induced cell differentiation and death. Altogether, our results unravel an ATRA-elicited signaling pathway that involves SOC channels/CAMKK2 activation, induction of autophagy, inhibition of cellular differentiation and suppression of cell death. We suggest that SOC channels and CAMKK2 may constitute novel drug targets for potentiating the anti-cancer effect of ATRA in APL patients.