Receptor tyrosine kinase-like orphan receptor 1 (ROR1) is a member of the ROR receptor family consisting of two closely related type I transmembrane proteins ROR1 and ROR2. Owing to mutations in their canonical motifs required for proper kinase activity, RORs are classified as pseudokinases lacking detectable catalytic activity. ROR1 stands out for its selective and high expression in numerous blood and solid malignancies compared with a minimal expression in healthy adult tissues, suggesting high potential for this molecule as a drug target for cancer therapy. Current understanding attributes a survival role for ROR1 in cancer cells; however, its oncogenic function is cancer-type-specific and involves various signaling pathways. High interest in ROR1-targeted therapies resulted in the development of ROR1 monoclonal antibodies such as cirmtuzumab, currently in a phase I clinical trial for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Despite these advances in translational studies, the molecular mechanism employed by ROR1 in different cancers is not yet fully understood; therefore, more insights into the oncogenic role of ROR1 signaling are crucial in order to optimize the use of targeted drugs. Recent studies provided evidence that targeting ROR1 simultaneously with inhibition of B-cell receptor (BCR) signaling is more effective in killing ROR1-positive leukemia cells, suggesting a synergistic correlation between co-targeting ROR1 and BCR pathways. Although this synergy has been previously reported for B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the molecular mechanism appears rather different. These results provide more insights into ROR1–BCR combinatorial treatment strategies in hematological malignancies, which could benefit in tailoring more effective targeted therapies in other ROR1-positive cancers.
Targeting ROR1 identifies new treatment strategies in hematological cancers
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Hanna Karvonen, Wilhelmiina Niininen, Astrid Murumägi, Daniela Ungureanu; Targeting ROR1 identifies new treatment strategies in hematological cancers. Biochem Soc Trans 15 April 2017; 45 (2): 457–464. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/BST20160272
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