The Nedd8-Activating enzyme inhibitor MLN4924 thwarts microenvironment- driven NF-kB activation and induces apoptosis in chronic lymphocytic leukemia B cells

J. Claire Godbersen, Leigh Ann Humphries, Olga V. Danilova, Peter E. Kebbekus, Jennifer R. Brown, Alan Eastman, Alexey V. Danilov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Scopus citations


Background: Stromal-mediated signaling enhances NF-kB pathway activity in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) B cells, leading to cell survival and chemoresistance. Ubiquitination of IkBa may partially account for constitutive activation of NF-kB. MLN4924 is an investigational agent that inhibits the Nedd8- activating enzyme, thereby neutralizing Cullin-RING ubiquitin ligases and preventing degradation of their substrates. Experimental Design: We conducted a preclinical assessment of MLN4924 in CLL. Primary CLL cells were cocultured in vitro with CD40L-expressing stroma to mimic the prosurvival conditions present in lymphoid tissue. The effect of MLN4924 on CLL cell apoptosis, NF-kB pathway activity, Bcl-2 family members, and cell cycle was assessed by flow cytometry, Western blotting, PCR, and immunocytochemistry. Results: CD40L-expressing stroma protected CLL cells from spontaneous apoptosis and induced resistance to multiple drugs, accompanied by NF-kB activation and Bim repression. Treatment with MLN4924 induced CLL cell apoptosis and circumvented stroma-mediated resistance. This was accompanied by accumulation of phospho-IkBa, decreased nuclear translocation of p65 and p52 leading to inhibition of both the canonical and noncanonical NF-kB pathways, and reduced transcription of their target genes, notably chemokines. MLN4924 promoted induction of Bim and Noxa in the CLL cells leading to rebalancing of Bcl-2 family members toward the proapoptotic BH3-only proteins. siRNA-mediated knockdown of Bim or Noxa decreased sensitivity to MLN4924. MLN4924 enhanced the antitumor activity of the inhibitors of B-cell receptor (BCR)-Associated kinases. Conclusions: MLN4924 disrupts NF-kB activation and induces Bim expression in CLL cells, thereby preventing stroma-mediated resistance. Our data provide rationale for further evaluation of MLN4924 in CLL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1576-1589
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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