Alterations in the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) leave malignant cells in heightened cellular stress, making them susceptible to proteasome inhibition. However, given the limited efficacy of proteasome inhibitors in non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), novel approaches to target the UPS are needed. Here, we show that TAK-243, the first small-molecule inhibitor of the ubiquitin activating enzyme (UAE) to enter clinical development, disrupts all ubiquitin signaling and global protein ubiquitination in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) cells, thereby inducing endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and the unfolded protein response (UPR). Activation of the ER stress response protein kinase R (PKR)-like ER kinase and phosphorylation of eukaryotic translation initiator factor 2a led to upregulation of the proapoptotic molecule C/EBP homologous protein and cell death across a panel of DLBCL cell lines independent of cell of origin. Concurrently, targeting UAE led to accumulation of Cdt1, a replication licensing factor, leading to DNA rereplication, checkpoint activation, and cell cycle arrest. MYC oncoprotein sensitized DLBCL cells to UAE inhibition; engineered expression of MYC enhanced while genetic MYC knockdown protected from TAK-243-induced apoptosis. UAE inhibition demonstrated enhanced ER stress and UPR and increased potency compared with bortezomib in DLBCL cell lines. In vivo treatment with TAK-243 restricted the growth of xenografted DLBCL tumors, accompanied by reduced cell proliferation and apoptosis. Finally, primary patient-derived DLBCL cells, including those expressing aberrant MYC, demonstrated susceptibility to UAE inhibition. In sum, targeting UAE may hold promise as a novel therapeutic approach in NHL.
ASJC Scopus subject areas