Inhibition of ABL1 by tyrosine kinase inhibitors leads to a downregulation of MLH1 by Hsp70-mediated lysosomal protein degradation

Hannah G. Daniels, Breanna G. Knicely, Anna Kristin Miller, Ana Thompson, Rina Plattner, Eva M. Goellner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The DNA mismatch repair (MMR) pathway and its regulation are critical for genomic stability. Mismatch repair (MMR) follows replication and repairs misincorporated bases and small insertions or deletions that are not recognized and removed by the proofreading polymerase. Cells deficient in MMR exhibit an increased overall mutation rate and increased expansion and contraction of short repeat sequences in the genome termed microsatellite instability (MSI). MSI is often a clinical measure of genome stability in tumors and is used to determine the course of treatment. MMR is also critical for inducing apoptosis after alkylation damage from environmental agents or DNA-damaging chemotherapy. MLH1 is essential for MMR, and loss or mutation of MLH1 leads to defective MMR, increased mutation frequency, and MSI. In this study, we report that tyrosine kinase inhibitors, imatinib and nilotinib, lead to decreased MLH1 protein expression but not decreased MLH1 mRNA levels. Of the seven cellular targets of Imatinib and nilotinib, we show that silencing of ABL1 also reduces MLH1 protein expression. Treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors or silencing of ABL1 results in decreased apoptosis after treatment with alkylating agents, suggesting the level of MLH1 reduction is sufficient to disrupt MMR function. We also report MLH1 is tyrosine phosphorylated by ABL1. We demonstrate that MLH1 downregulation by ABL1 knockdown or inhibition requires chaperone protein Hsp70 and that MLH1 degradation can be abolished with the lysosomal inhibitor bafilomycin. Taken together, we propose that ABL1 prevents MLH1 from being targeted for degradation by the chaperone Hsp70 and that in the absence of ABL1 activity at least a portion of MLH1 is degraded through the lysosome. This study represents an advance in understanding MMR pathway regulation and has important clinical implications as MMR status is used in the clinic to inform patient treatment, including the use of immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number940073
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
StatePublished - Oct 20 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Daniels, Knicely, Miller, Thompson, Plattner and Goellner.


  • DNA repair
  • Hsp70
  • lysosome
  • mismatch repair
  • nilotinib dasatinib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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