Identification of p38β as a therapeutic target for the treatment of sézary syndrome

Meghan Bliss-Moreau, Cristian Coarfa, Preethi H. Gunaratne, Joan Guitart, Nancy L. Krett, Steven T. Rosen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs) represent a group of hematopoietic malignancies that home to the skin and have no known molecular basis for disease pathogenesis. Sézary syndrome (SS) is the leukemic variant of CTCL. Currently, CTCL is incurable, highlighting the need for new therapeutic modalities. We have previously observed that combined small-molecule inhibition of protein kinase C-β (PKCβ) and glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) causes synergistic apoptosis in CTCL cell lines and patient cells. Through microarray analysis of a SS cell line, we surveyed global gene expression following combined PKCβ-GSK3 treatment to elucidate therapeutic targets responsible for cell death. Clinically relevant targets were defined as genes differentially expressed in SS patients that were modulated by combination-drug treatment of SS cells. Gene set enrichment analysis uncovered candidate genes enriched for an immune-cell signature, specifically the T-cell receptor and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways. Further analysis identified p38 as a potential therapeutic target that is overexpressed in SS patients and decreased by synergistic-inhibitor treatment. This target was verified through small-molecule inhibition of p38, leading to cell death in both SS cell lines and patient cells. These data establish p38 as a SS biomarker and a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of CTCL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-608
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 13 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology

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