Discovery of a fusion kinase in EOL-1 cells and idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome.
Idiopathic hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES) is a myeloproliferative disease of unknown etiology. Recently, it has been reported that imatinib mesylate (Gleevec), an inhibitor of Bcr-Abl kinase useful in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia, is also effective in treating HES; however, the molecular target of imatinib in HES is unknown. This report identifies a genetic rearrangement in the eosinophilic cell line EOL-1 that results in the expression of a fusion protein comprising an N-terminal region encoded by a gene of unknown function with the GenBank accession number NM_030917 and a C-terminal region derived from the intracellular domain of the platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRalpha). The fusion gene was also detected in blood cells from two patients with HES. We propose naming NM_030917 Rhe for Rearranged in hypereosinophilia. Rhe-PDGFRalpha fusions result from an apparent interstitial deletion that links Rhe to exon 12 of PDGFRalpha on chromosome 4q12. The fusion kinase Rhe-PDGFRalpha is constitutively phosphorylated and supports IL-3-independent growth when expressed in BaF3 cells. Proliferation and viability of EOL-1 and BaF3 cells expressing Rhe-PDGFRalpha are ablated by the PDGFRalpha inhibitors imatinib, vatalanib, and THRX-165724.