NFAT transcription factors are essential and redundant actors for leukemia initiating potential in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive malignancy with few available targeted therapies. We previously reported that the phosphatase calcineurin (Cn) is required for LIC (leukemia Initiating Capacity) potential of T-ALL pointing to Cn as an interesting therapeutic target. Calcineurin inhibitors have however unwanted side effect. NFAT transcription factors play crucial roles downstream of calcineurin during thymocyte development, T cell differentiation, activation and anergy. Here we elucidate NFAT functional relevance in T-ALL. Using murine T-ALL models in which Nfat genes can be inactivated either singly or in combination, we show that NFATs are required for T-ALL LIC potential and essential to survival, proliferation and migration of T-ALL cells. We also demonstrate that Nfat genes are functionally redundant in T-ALL and identified a node of genes commonly deregulated upon Cn or NFAT inactivation, which may serve as future candidate targets for T-ALL.