DYRK1A is a serine/threonine kinase encoded on human chromosome 21 (HSA21) that has been implicated in several pathologies of Down syndrome (DS), including cognitive deficits and Alzheimer's disease. Although children with DS are predisposed to developing leukemia, especially B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL), the HSA21 genes that contribute to malignancies remain largely undefined. Here, we report that DYRK1A is overexpressed and required for B-ALL. Genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of DYRK1A decreased leukemic cell expansion and suppressed B-ALL development in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, we found that FOXO1 and STAT3, transcription factors that are indispensable for B cell development, are critical substrates of DYRK1A. Loss of DYRK1A-mediated FOXO1 and STAT3 signaling disrupted DNA damage and ROS regulation, respectively, leading to preferential cell death in leukemic B cells. Thus, we reveal a DYRK1A/FOXO1/STAT3 axis that facilitates the development and maintenance of B-ALL.
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