D3examethasone (dex) induces apoptosis in multiple myeloma (MM) cells and is a frontline treatment for this disease. However resistance to dex remains a major challenge and novel treatment approaches are needed. We hypothesized that dex utilizes translational pathways to promote apoptosis in MM and that specific targeting of these pathways could overcome dex-resistance. Global unbiased profiling of mRNA translational profiles in MM cells treated with or without dex revealed that dex significantly repressed eIF2 signaling, an important pathway for regulating ternary complex formation and protein synthesis. We demonstrate that dex induces the phosphorylation of eIF2α resulting in the translational upregulation of ATF4, a known eIF2 regulated mRNA. Pharmacologic induction of eIF2α phosphorylation via activation of the heme-regulated eIF2α kinase (HRI) induced apoptosis in MM cell lines and in primary MM cells from patients with dex-resistant disease. In addition, co-culture with marrow stroma failed to protect MM cells from apoptosis induced by targeting the eIF2 pathway. Combination therapy with rapamycin, an mTOR inhibitor, and BTdCPU, an activator of HRI, demonstrated additive effects on apoptosis in dex-resistant cells. Thus, specific activation of the eIF2α kinase HRI is a novel therapeutic target in MM that can augment current treatment strategies.
- Multiple myeloma
- eIF2 signaling