BH3 profiling in whole cells by fluorimeter or FACS.
ABSTRACT: Rapid analysis of a cell's propensity to undergo apoptosis through the mitochondrial pathway is hindered by the complex network of interactions between more than fifteen known members of the BCL2 family that govern the decision to undergo mitochondrial apoptosis, and measurement of protein levels alone fails to account for critical interactions between the proteins. To address this issue, we have developed two functional assays for same-day analysis of cell lines or primary tissue samples. Using defined inputs in the form of peptides derived primarily from the BH3 domains of pro-apoptotic members of the BCL2 family, we invoke a response in the mitochondria in the form of mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization measured indirectly using potential sensitive dyes. BH3 profiling can be applied to any viable single cell suspension and provides a response from the sum total of all known and unknown interactions within the BCL2 family for each stimulus, and the pattern of response can provide both a cell's propensity towards mitochondrial apoptosis, or 'priming', as well as indicate dependencies on specific anti-apoptotic proteins. Described here are optimized conditions for both plate-based and FACS-based BH3 profiling for homogeneous and heterogeneous samples.
Project description:In this study, we utilized an integrated bioinformatics and computational biology approach in search of new BH3-only proteins belonging to the BCL2 family of apoptotic regulators. The BH3 (BCL2 homology 3) domain mediates specific binding interactions among various BCL2 family members. It is composed of an amphipathic ?-helical region of approximately 13 residues that has only a few amino acids that are highly conserved across all members. Using a generalized motif, we performed a genome-wide search for novel BH3-containing proteins in the NCBI Consensus Coding Sequence (CCDS) database. In addition to known pro-apoptotic BH3-only proteins, 197 proteins were recovered that satisfied the search criteria. These were categorized according to ?-helical content and predictive binding to BCL-xL (encoded by BCL2L1) and MCL-1, two representative anti-apoptotic BCL2 family members, using position-specific scoring matrix models. Notably, the list is enriched for proteins associated with autophagy as well as a broad spectrum of cellular stress responses such as endoplasmic reticulum stress, oxidative stress, antiviral defense, and the DNA damage response. Several potential novel BH3-containing proteins are highlighted. In particular, the analysis strongly suggests that the apoptosis inhibitor and DNA damage response regulator, AVEN, which was originally isolated as a BCL-xL-interacting protein, is a functional BH3-only protein representing a distinct subclass of BCL2 family members.
Project description:BCL2-family proteins have a central role in the mitochondrial apoptosis machinery and their expression is known to be deregulated in many cancer types. Effort in the development of small molecules that selectively target anti-apoptotic members of this family i.e., Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Mcl-1 recently opened novel therapeutic opportunities. Among these apoptosis-inducing agents, BH3-mimetics (i.e., venetoclax) led to promising preclinical and clinical activity in B cell malignancies. However, several mechanisms of intrinsic or acquired resistance have been described ex vivo therefore predictive markers of response as well as mechanism-based combinations have to be designed. In the present study, we analyzed the expression of the BCL2-family genes across 10 mature B cell malignancies through computational normalization of 21 publicly available Affimetrix datasets gathering 1,219 patient samples. To better understand the deregulation of anti- and pro-apoptotic members of the BCL2-family in hematological disorders, we first compared gene expression profiles of malignant B cells to their relative normal control (naïve B cell to plasma cells, n = 37). We further assessed BCL2-family expression according to tissue localization i.e., peripheral blood, bone marrow, and lymph node, molecular subgroups or disease status i.e., indolent to aggressive. Across all cancer types, we showed that anti-apoptotic genes are upregulated while pro-apoptotic genes are downregulated when compared to normal counterpart cells. Of interest, our analysis highlighted that, independently of the nature of malignant B cells, the pro-apoptotic BH3-only BCL2L11 and PMAIP1 are deeply repressed in tumor niches, suggesting a central role of the microenvironment in their regulation. In addition, we showed selective modulations across molecular subgroups and showed that the BCL2-family expression profile was related to tumor aggressiveness. Finally, by integrating recent data on venetoclax-monotherapy clinical activity with the expression of BCL2-family members involved in the venetoclax response, we determined that the ratio (BCL2+BCL2L11+BAX)/BCL2L1 was the strongest predictor of venetoclax response for mature B cell malignancies in vivo.
Project description:BH3 profiling measures the propensity of transformed cells to undergo intrinsic apoptosis and is determined by exposing cells to BH3-mimicking peptides. We hypothesized that basal levels of prosurvival BCL-2 family proteins may modulate the predictive power of BH3 profiling and termed it mitochondrial profiling. We investigated the correlation between cell sensitivity to apoptogenic agents and mitochondrial profiling, using a panel of acute myeloid leukemias induced to undergo apoptosis by exposure to cytarabine, the BH3 mimetic ABT-199, the MDM2 inhibitor Nutlin-3a, or the CRM1 inhibitor KPT-330. We found that the apoptogenic efficacies of ABT-199 and cytarabine correlated well with BH3 profiling reflecting BCL2, but not BCL-XL or MCL-1 dependence. Baseline BCL-2 protein expression analysis increased the ability of BH3 profiling to predict resistance mediated by MCL-1. By utilizing engineered cells with overexpression or knockdown of BCL-2 family proteins, Ara-C was found to be independent, while ABT-199 was dependent on BCL-XL. BCL-2 and BCL-XL overexpression mediated resistance to KPT-330 which was not reflected in the BH3 profiling assay, or in baseline BCL-2 protein levels. In conclusion, mitochondrial profiling, the combination of BH3 profiling and prosurvival BCL-2 family protein analysis, represents an improved approach to predict efficacy of diverse agents in AML and may have utility in the design of more effective drug combinations.
Project description:Mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP), a key step in the intrinsic apoptotic pathway, is incompletely understood. Current models emphasize the role of BH3-only BCL2 family members in BAX and BAK activation. Here we demonstrate concentration-dependent BAK autoactivation under cell-free conditions and provide evidence that this autoactivation plays a key role in regulating the intrinsic apoptotic pathway in intact cells. In particular, we show that up to 80% of BAK (but not BAX) in lymphohematopoietic cell lines is oligomerized and bound to anti-apoptotic BCL2 family members in the absence of exogenous death stimuli. The extent of this constitutive BAK oligomerization is diminished by BAK knockdown and unaffected by BIM or PUMA down-regulation. Further analysis indicates that sensitivity of cells to BH3 mimetics reflects the identity of the anti-apoptotic proteins to which BAK is constitutively bound, with extensive BCLXL•BAK complexes predicting navitoclax sensitivity, and extensive MCL1•BAK complexes predicting A1210477 sensitivity. Moreover, high BAK expression correlates with sensitivity of clinical acute myelogenous leukemia to chemotherapy, whereas low BAK levels correlate with resistance and relapse. Collectively, these results inform current understanding of MOMP and provide new insight into the ability of BH3 mimetics to induce apoptosis without directly activating BAX or BAK.
Project description:Blasts from different patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) vary in the agent(s) to which they are most responsive. With a myriad of novel agents to evaluate, there is a lack of predictive biomarkers to precisely assign targeted therapies to individual patients. Primary AML cells often survive poorly in vitro, thus confounding conventional cytotoxicity assays. The purpose of this work was to assess the potential of two same-day functional predictive assays in AML cell lines to predict long-term response to chemotherapy. (i) Ribosomal protein S6 (rpS6) is a downstream substrate of PI3K/akt/mTOR/ kinase and MAPK kinase pathways and its dephosphorylation is also triggered by DNA double strand breaks. Phospho-rpS6 is reliably measurable by flow cytometry and thus has the potential to function as a biomarker of responsiveness to several therapeutic agents. (ii) A cell's propensity for apoptosis can be interrogated via a functional assay termed "Dynamic BH3 Profiling" in which mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization in drug-treated cells can be driven by pro-apoptotic BH3 domain peptides such as PUMA-BH3. The extent to which a particular cell is primed for apoptosis by the drug can be determined by measuring the amount of cytochrome C released on addition of BH3 peptide. We demonstrate that phospho-rpS6 expression and PUMA-BH3 peptide-induced cytochrome C release after 4 hours both predict long term chemoresponsiveness to tyrosine kinase inhibitors and DNA double strand break inducers in AML cell lines. We also describe changes in expression levels of the prosurvival BCL-2 family member Mcl-1 and the pro-apoptotic protein BIM after short term drug culture.
Project description:BH3 mimetic compounds induce tumor cell death through targeted inhibition of anti-apoptotic BCL2 proteins. Resistance to one such compound, ABT-737, is due to increased levels of anti-apoptotic MCL1. Using chemical and genetic approaches, we show that resistance to ABT-737 is abrogated by inhibition of the mitochondrial RING E3 ligase, MARCH5. Mechanistically, this is due to increased expression of pro-apoptotic BCL2 family member, NOXA, and is associated with MARCH5 regulation of MCL1 ubiquitylation and stability in a NOXA-dependent manner. MARCH5 expression contributed to an 8-gene signature that correlates with sensitivity to the preclinical BH3 mimetic, navitoclax. Furthermore, we observed a synthetic lethal interaction between MCL1 and MARCH5 in MCL1-dependent breast cancer cells. Our data uncover a novel level at which the BCL2 family is regulated; furthermore, they suggest targeting MARCH5-dependent signaling will be an effective strategy for treatment of BH3 mimetic-resistant tumors, even in the presence of high MCL1.
Project description:After cessation of lactation, involution of the mouse mammary gland proceeds in two distinct phases, a reversible and an irreversible one, which leads to the death and removal of alveolar cells. Cell death is preceded by the loss of STAT5 activity, which abrogates cell differentiation and gain of STAT3 activity. Despite early observations implicating BCL2 (B cell lymphoma 2) family proteins in this process, recent evidence suggests that STAT3-controlled cathepsin activity is most critical for cell death at the early stage of involution. Somewhat surprisingly, this cell death associates with but does not depend on the activation of pro-apoptotic effector caspases. However, transgenic overexpression of BCL2, that blocks caspase activation, delays involution while conditional deletion of BclX accelerates this process, suggesting that BCL2 family proteins are needed for the effective execution of involution. Here, we report on the transcriptional induction of multiple pro-apoptotic BCL2 family proteins of the 'BH3-only' subgroup during involution and the rate-limiting role of BIM in this process. Loss of Bim delayed epithelial cell clearance during involution after forced weaning in mice, whereas the absence of related Bmf had minor and loss of Bad or Noxa no impact on this process. Consistent with a contribution of BCL2 family proteins to the second wave of cell death during involution, loss of Bim reduced the number of apoptotic cells in this irreversible phase. Notably, the expression changes observed within the BCL2 family did not depend on STAT3 signalling, in line with its initiating role early in the process, but rather appear to result from relief of repression by STAT5. Our findings support the existence of a signalling circuitry regulating the irreversible phase of involution in mice by engaging BH3-only protein-driven mitochondrial apoptosis.
Project description:The BCL2 family of proteins regulates cellular life and death decisions. Among BCL2 family members, BH3-only proteins have critical roles by neutralizing antiapoptotic family members, as well as directly activating BAX and BAK. Despite widespread occurrence of BH3-only protein upregulation in response to various stresses, this process is rarely quantified. Moreover, it is unclear whether all BH3-only proteins are equipotent at inducing cell death. Here we show that BH3-only proteins increase as much as 15- to 20-fold after various treatments and define a parameter, termed BH3-only tolerance, which measures how many copies of a particular BH3-only protein can be expressed before the majority of cells in a population undergo apoptosis. We not only assess the relative contributions of anti- and proapoptotic BCL2 family members to BH3-only tolerance, but also illustrate how the study of this parameter can be used to understand cellular sensitivity to anticancer drugs and new combinations. These observations provide a new quantitative framework for assessing apoptotic susceptibility under various conditions.
Project description:Mitochondrial apoptosis is controlled by proteins of the B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2) family. Pro-apoptotic members of this family, known as BH3-only proteins, initiate activation of the effectors Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax) and Bcl-2 homologous antagonist/killer (Bak), which is counteracted by anti-apoptotic family members. How the interactions of Bcl-2 proteins regulate cell death is still not entirely clear. Here, we show that in the absence of extrinsic apoptotic stimuli Bak activates without detectable contribution from BH3-only proteins, and cell survival depends on anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 molecules. All anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins were targeted via RNA interference alone or in combinations of two in primary human fibroblasts. Simultaneous targeting of B-cell lymphoma-extra large and myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1 led to apoptosis in several cell types. Apoptosis depended on Bak whereas Bax was dispensable. Activator BH3-only proteins were not required for apoptosis induction as apoptosis was unaltered in the absence of all BH3-only proteins known to activate Bax or Bak directly, Bcl-2-interacting mediator of cell death, BH3-interacting domain death agonist and p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis. These findings argue for auto-activation of Bak in the absence of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins and provide evidence of profound differences in the activation of Bax and Bak.
Project description:BH3 mimetic drugs, which inhibit prosurvival BCL2 family proteins, have limited single-agent activity in solid tumor models. The potential of BH3 mimetics for these cancers may depend on their ability to potentiate the apoptotic response to chemotherapy and targeted therapies. Using a novel class of potent and selective MCL1 inhibitors, we demonstrate that concurrent MEK + MCL1 inhibition induces apoptosis and tumor regression in KRAS-mutant non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) models, which respond poorly to MEK inhibition alone. Susceptibility to BH3 mimetics that target either MCL1 or BCL-xL was determined by the differential binding of proapoptotic BCL2 proteins to MCL1 or BCL-xL, respectively. The efficacy of dual MEK + MCL1 blockade was augmented by prior transient exposure to BCL-xL inhibitors, which promotes the binding of proapoptotic BCL2 proteins to MCL1. This suggests a novel strategy for integrating BH3 mimetics that target different BCL2 family proteins for KRAS-mutant NSCLC. SIGNIFICANCE: Defining the molecular basis for MCL1 versus BCL-xL dependency will be essential for effective prioritization of BH3 mimetic combination therapies in the clinic. We discover a novel strategy for integrating BCL-xL and MCL1 inhibitors to drive and subsequently exploit apoptotic dependencies of KRAS-mutant NSCLCs treated with MEK inhibitors.See related commentary by Leber et al., p. 1511.This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 1494.