Md Kamrul Hasan, PhD

University of California, San Diego

Titles + affiliations

Assistant Project Scientist
University of California, San Diego


Investigating the Role of DOCK2 in Cells Expansion, Drug Resistance and Pathogenesis of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults. It accounts for more than 20,000 new cases every year in the United States and 37% of all newly detected leukemia cases. CLL is characterized by the accumulation of B cells (a type of white blood cell that express B-cell receptor (BCR)) in the bone marrow and lymphoid tissues (e.g. spleen). DOCK2 is a cytoplasmic protein of hematopoietic cells (blood cells), and can directly activate Rac1/2. Wnt5a is a growth factor found at high levels in the plasma of patients with CLL, and a ligand (have high affinity) of ROR1, which is present on the surface of CLL cells. Recently, we described that Wnt5a can induce ROR1/DOCK2 association, activate Rac1/2 or ERK1/2 and promote leukemia-cell proliferation (increase cell number/growth), and could be inhibited by cirmtuzumab (anti-ROR1 antibody), which is under phase-II clinical trial to treat CLL patients (Hasan et al., Blood, 2018; Leukemia, 2020). Moreover, an FDA approved front line therapy to treat CLL patients such, as ibrutinib (BTK inhibitor) that could inhibit BCR signaling, was unable to block Wnt5a enhanced activation of DOCK2 or ERK1/2, suggesting potential drug resistance in CLL therapy. Here, we will examine the molecular events of activation of DOCK2 or ERK1/2 in CLL. This study will provide better understanding of DOCK2 protein in CLL cells expansion and pathogenesis, and suggest new therapeutic strategies to treat CLL.


I have made significant progress in this research project, with the help of the Leukemia Research Foundation New Investigator Award. The preliminary data generated in this project will help me to apply for other grants, including the National Institute of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI).


Hasan, M.K., Ghia, E.M., Rassenti, L.Z., et al. Wnt5a enhances proliferation of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and ERK1/2 phosphorylation via a ROR1/DOCK2-dependent mechanism. Leukemia, 35, 1621–1630 (2021)


Md Kamrul Hasan, Laura Z. Rassenti, George F. Widhopf II, Zhouxin Shen, Steven P. Briggs, Thomas J. Kipps; Wnt5a Induces ROR1 to Interact Grb2 to Enhance Ras Activation in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Blood (2021)


Leukemia Research Foundation grant
$100K awarded in 2021

Disease focus
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

Research focus
Cancer cell biology (microenvironment)