Imatinib mesylate (IM) is a potent tyrosine kinase inhibitor used as front-line therapy in chronic myeloid leukemia, a disease caused by the oncogenic kinase Bcr-Abl. Although the clinical success of IM set a new paradigm in molecular-targeted therapy, the emergence of IM resistance is a clinically significant problem. In an effort to obtain new insights into the mechanisms of adaptation and tolerance to IM, as well as the signaling pathways potentially affected by this drug, we performed a two-dimensional electrophoresis-based quantitative- and phospho-proteomic analysis in the eukaryotic model Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We singled out proteins that were either differentially expressed or differentially phosphorylated in response to IM, using the phosphoselective dye Pro-Q(?) Diamond, and identified 18 proteins in total. Ten were altered only at the content level (mostly decreased), while the remaining 8 possessed IM-repressed phosphorylation. These 18 proteins are mainly involved in cellular carbohydrate processes (glycolysis/gluconeogenesis), translation, protein folding, ion homeostasis, and nucleotide and amino acid metabolism. Remarkably, all 18 proteins have human functional homologs. A role for HSP70 proteins in the response to IM, as well as decreased glycolysis as a metabolic marker of IM action are suggested, consistent with findings from studies in human cell lines. The previously-proposed effect of IM as an inhibitor of vacuolar H(+)-ATPase function was supported by the identification of an underexpressed protein subunit of this complex. Taken together, these findings reinforce the role of yeast as a valuable eukaryotic model for pharmacological studies and identification of new drug targets, with potential clinical implications in drug reassignment or line extension under a personalized medicine perspective.
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