Background: Previously we have shown that B cell receptor (BCR) expression and B cell receptor signaling pathways are important for the basal growth of B lymphoma cells. In particular we have shown that the activation of Syk, a non-src family protein tyrosine kinase and the mitogen activated protein kinases (MAPK), ERK and JNK that mediate BCR signals are required for the constitutive growth of B lymphoma cells. Since src family protein tyrosine kinases (SFKs) like Lyn are known to be needed for the phosphorylation of BCR co-receptors, Ig-alpha and Ig-beta, we hypothesized that one or more SFKs will be constitutively activated in B lymphoma cells and may be necessary for B lymphoma growth.

Results: Src kinase activity was found to be constitutively high in many murine and human B lymphoma cell lines and primary lymphoma samples. The specific pharmacological inhibitors of SFKs, PP1 and PP2 inhibited the proliferation of a number of both murine and human B lymphomas in a dose-dependent manner. Importantly, dasatinib (BMS-354825), an oral dual BCR-ABL and SFK specific inhibitor inhibited the growth of B lymphomas in the nanomolar range in vitro and strongly inhibited a mouse lymphoma growth in vivo. Among the SFKs, Lyn is predominantly phosphorylated and Lyn-specific small interfering RNA inhibited the growth of B lymphomas, supporting an important role for Lyn in B lymphoma growth. Suppression of SFK activity blocks BCR mediated signaling pathways. PMA or CpG can partially reverse the growth inhibition induced by SFK inhibition. Although blocking SFK activity inhibited the growth of a number of B lymphomas, some lymphomas such as SudHL-4, SudHL-6, OCI-Ly3 and OCI-Ly10 are more resistant due to an increased expression of the anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL.

Conclusions: These studies further support our concept that BCR signaling pathways are important for the continued growth of established B lymphoma cells. Some of the intermediates in this BCR pathway are potential immunotherapeutic targets. In particular, inhibition of SFK activity alone or in synergy with inhibition of the prosurvival Bcl-2 proteins holds promise in developing more effective treatments for B lymphoma patients.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Molecular Cancer, v. 8, 132, p. 1-15.

© 2009 Ke et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (5P01CA092372), Markey Cancer Center, and funds from the university's Vice President for Research to S.B.