Side-by-side comparison of BH3-mimetics identifies MCL-1 as a key therapeutic target in AML

  • Despite advances in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), prognosis of AML patients is still dismal and better treatment options are required. B-cell Lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) homology domain 3 (BH3)-mimetics are emerging as a novel class of apoptosis-inducing agents that are currently being tested for the treatment of different hematological malignancies including AML. Particularly, the selective BCL-2 inhibitor ABT-199/Venetoclax is demonstrating clinical responses and has recently been approved in combination for the treatment of AML. Compounds targeting the related protein MCL-1 have recently entered clinical trials, highlighting the urgency to compare the different BH3-mimetics and identify the most promising antiapoptotic target in AML. We performed a side-by-side comparison of different highly selective and potent BH3-mimetics targeting BCL-2 (ABT-199), MCL-1 (S63845) or BCL-xL (A1331852) in a panel of AML cell lines and primary patient cells. Gene knockdown using siRNAs was utilized to investigate the functional relevance of BCL-2 proteins. Western blotting and immunoprecipitations were used to explore the influence of BH3-mimetics on interactions between pro- and antiapoptotic BCL-2 proteins. A1331852 induced apoptosis only in selected cases, indicating that BCL-xL is not a very promising therapeutic target in AML. However, S63845 displayed higher potency than ABT-199, with more cell lines and primary cells responding to S63845 than to ABT-199. MCL-1 dependency in AML cells was confirmed by siRNA-mediated knockdown of MCL-1, which was sufficient to induce apoptosis. S63845-induced cell death was accompanied by a displacement of the BH3-only protein BIM as well as BAK, resulting in BAK-dependent apoptosis. In contrast, ABT-199-induced cell death was mediated by BAX rather than BAK, indicating distinct non-redundant molecular functions of BCL-2 and MCL-1 in AML. Our study reveals that MCL-1 may be a more prevalent therapeutic target than BCL-2 in AML and identifies BIM and BAK as important mediators of S63845-induced apoptosis in AML.

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Author:Larissa Ewald, Jessica Dittmann, Meike VoglerORCiDGND, Simone FuldaORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):Cell Death & Disease
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2019/12/04
Date of first Publication:2019/12/04
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/05/19
Issue:Article number: 917
Page Number:13
Institutes:Medizin / Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0