Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) is a cytoplasmic protein-tyrosine kinase that catalyzes the transfer of the γ-phosphate group of adenosine triphosphate to the hydroxyl groups of specific tyrosine residues in signal transduction molecules. JAK2 mediates signaling downstream of cytokine receptors after ligand-induced autophosphorylation of both receptor and enzyme. The main downstream effectors of JAK2 are a family of transcription factors known as signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) proteins. The myeloproliferative disorders (MPD), a subgroup of myeloid malignancies, are clonal stem cell diseases characterized by an expansion of morphologically mature granulocyte, erythrold, megakaryocyte, or monocyte lineage cells. Among the traditionally classified MPD, the disease-causing mutation has been delineated, thus far, for only chronic myeloid leukemia (ie, bcr/abl). In the past 3 months, 7 different studies have independently described a close association between an activating JAK2 mutation (JAK2V617F) and the classic bcr/abl-negative MPD (ie, polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, myelofibrosis with myeloid metaplasia) as well as the less frequent occurrence of the same mutation in both atypical MPD and the myelodysplastic syndrome. The particular finding is consistent with previous observations that have implicated the JAK/STAT signal transduction pathway in the pathogenesis of bcr/abl-negative MPD, including the phenotype of growth factor independence and/or hypersensitivity. The current article summarizes this new information and discusses its implications for both classification and diagnosis of MPD.
ASJC Scopus subject areas