CALR-mutated cells are vulnerable to combined inhibition of the proteasome and the endoplasmic reticulum stress response.


Cancer is driven by somatic mutations that provide a fitness advantage. While targeted therapies often focus on the mutated gene or its direct downstream effectors, imbalances brought on by cell-state alterations may also confer unique vulnerabilities. In myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), somatic mutations in the calreticulin (CALR) gene are disease-initiating through aberrant binding of mutant CALR to the thrombopoietin receptor MPL and ligand-independent activation of JAK-STAT signaling. Despite these mechanistic insights into the pathogenesis of CALR-mutant MPN, there are currently no mutant CALR-selective therapies available. Here, we identified differential upregulation of unfolded proteins, the proteasome and the ER stress response in CALR-mutant hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and megakaryocyte progenitors. We further found that combined pharmacological inhibition of the proteasome and IRE1-XBP1 axis of the ER stress response preferentially targets Calr-mutated HSCs and megakaryocytic-lineage cells over wild-type cells in vivo, resulting in an amelioration of the MPN phenotype. In serial transplantation assays following combined proteasome/IRE1 inhibition for six weeks, we did not find preferential depletion of Calr-mutant long-term HSCs. Together, these findings leverage altered proteostasis in Calr-mutant MPN to identify combinatorial dependencies that may be targeted for therapeutic benefit and suggest that eradicating disease-propagating Calr-mutant LT-HSCs may require more sustained treatment.

Year of Publication
Date Published
2022 Dec 06
PubMed ID
Grant list
U01 CA214125 / CA / NCI NIH HHS / United States