Obatoclax potentiates the cytotoxic effect of cytarabine on acute myeloid leukemia cells by enhancing DNA damage.
ABSTRACT: Resistance to cytarabine and anthracycline-based chemotherapy is a major cause of treatment failure for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients. Overexpression of Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and/or Mcl-1 has been associated with chemoresistance in AML cell lines and with poor clinical outcome of AML patients. Thus, inhibitors of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins could be novel therapeutic agents. In this study, we investigated how clinically achievable concentrations of obatoclax, a pan-Bcl-2 inhibitor, potentiate the antileukemic activity of cytarabine in AML cells. MTT assays in AML cell lines and diagnostic blasts, as well as flow cytometry analyses in AML cell lines revealed synergistic antileukemic activity between cytarabine and obatoclax. Bax activation was detected in the combined, but not the individual, drug treatments. This was accompanied by significantly increased loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. Most importantly, in AML cells treated with the combination, enhanced early induction of DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) preceded a decrease of Mcl-1 levels, nuclear translocation of Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, and Mcl-1, and apoptosis. These results indicate that obatoclax enhances cytarabine-induced apoptosis by enhancing DNA DSBs. This novel mechanism provides compelling evidence for the clinical use of BH3 mimetics in combination with DNA-damaging agents in AML and possibly a broader range of malignancies.
Project description:Interactions between the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib and the BH3-mimetic obatoclax (GX15-070) were examined in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. Treatment with sorafenib/obatoclax induced pronounced apoptosis in and reduced the clonogenic growth of multiple AML lines and primary AML cells but not normal CD34(+) cells. Sorafenib triggered rapid and pronounced Mcl-1 down-regulation accompanied by enhanced binding of Bim to Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, effects that were abolished by obatoclax coadministration. Notably, shRNA knockdown of Bim, Bak, or Bax, but not Noxa, significantly attenuated obatoclax/sorafenib lethality, whereas ectopic expression of Mcl-1 exerted a protective effect. Furthermore, exposure of leukemia cells to sorafenib and obatoclax markedly induced autophagy, reflected by rapid and pronounced LC3 processing and LC3-green fluorescent protein (GFP) punctate formation. Multiple autophagy inhibitors or VPS34 knockdown, significantly potentiated sorafenib/obatoclax lethality, indicating a cytoprotective role for autophagy in this setting. Finally, studies in a xenograft mouse model revealed that combined sorafenib/obatoclax treatment markedly reduced tumor growth and significantly prolonged survival in association with Mcl-1 down-regulation and apoptosis induction, whereas agents administered individually had only modest effects. These findings suggest that combining sorafenib with agents that inhibit Mcl-1 and Bcl-2/Bcl-xL such as obatoclax may represent a novel and potentially effective strategy in AML.
Project description:In this study, we investigated the mechanism of apoptosis induction of obatoclax (GX15-070), a novel Bcl-2 homology domain-3 (BH3) mimetic, in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cell lines and primary AML samples. Obatoclax inhibited cell growth of HL-60, U937, OCI-AML3, and KG-1 cell lines. Apoptosis induction contributed to the observed antiproliferative effects at concentrations of this agent that mirror its affinity for antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins. We show that obatoclax can promote the release of cytochrome c from isolated leukemia cell mitochondria and that apoptosis induced by this agent is preceded by the release of Bak from Mcl-1, liberation of Bim from both Bcl-2 and Mcl-1, and the formation of an active Bak/Bax complex. Notably, apoptosis was diminished, but not fully prevented, in the absence of Bak/Bax or Bim, suggesting that obatoclax has additional targets that contribute to its cytotoxicity. At growth inhibitory doses that did not induce apoptosis or decrease viability, obatoclax induced an S-G(2) cell-cycle block. Obatoclax induced apoptosis in AML CD34+ progenitor cells with an average IC(50) of 3.59 +/- 1.23 micromol/L although clonogenicity was inhibited at concentrations of 75 to 100 nmol/L. Obatoclax synergized with the novel BH3 mimetic ABT-737 to induce apoptosis in OCI-AML3 cells and synergistically induced apoptosis in combination with AraC in leukemic cell lines and in primary AML samples. In conclusion, we show that obatoclax potently induces apoptosis and decreases leukemia cell proliferation and may be used in a novel therapeutic strategy for AML alone and in combination with other targeted agents and chemotherapeutics.
Project description:Elevated expression of members of the BCL-2 pro-survival family of proteins can confer resistance to apoptosis in cancer cells. Small molecule obatoclax (GX15-070), which is predicted to occupy a hydrophobic pocket within the BH3 binding groove of BCL-2, antagonizes these members and induces apoptosis, dependent on BAX and BAK. Reconstitution in yeast confirmed that obatoclax acts on the pathway and overcomes BCL-2-, BCL-XL-, BCL-w-, and MCL-1-mediated resistance to BAX or BAK. The compound potently interfered with the direct interaction between MCL-1 and BAK in intact mitochondrial outer membrane and inhibited the association between MCL-1 and BAK in intact cells. MCL-1 has been shown to confer resistance to the BCL-2/BCL-XL/BCL-w-selective antagonist ABT-737 and to the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib. In both cases, this resistance was overcome by obatoclax. These findings support a rational clinical development opportunity for the compound in cancer indications or treatments where MCL-1 contributes to resistance to cell killing.
Project description:Effects of concomitant inhibition of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway and Bcl-2/Bcl-xL (BCL2L1) were examined in human myeloid leukemia cells. Tetracycline-inducible Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL dual knockdown sharply increased PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitor lethality. Conversely, inducible knockdown or dominant-negative AKT increased, whereas constitutively active AKT reduced lethality of the Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibitor ABT-737. Furthermore, PI3K/mTOR inhibitors (e.g., BEZ235 and PI-103) synergistically increased ABT-737-mediated cell death in multiple leukemia cell lines and reduced colony formation in leukemic, but not normal, CD34+ cells. Notably, increased lethality was observed in four of six primary acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) specimens. Responding, but not nonresponding, samples exhibited basal AKT phosphorylation. PI3K/mTOR inhibitors markedly downregulated Mcl-1 but increased Bim binding to Bcl-2/Bcl-xL; the latter effect was abrogated by ABT-737. Combined treatment also markedly diminished Bax/Bak binding to Mcl-1, Bcl-2, or Bcl-xL. Bax, Bak, or Bim (BCL2L11) knockdown or Mcl-1 overexpression significantly diminished regimen-induced apoptosis. Interestingly, pharmacologic inhibition or short hairpin RNA knockdown of GSK3?/? significantly attenuated Mcl-1 downregulation and decreased apoptosis. In a systemic AML xenograft model, dual tetracycline-inducible knockdown of Bcl-2/Bcl-xL sharply increased BEZ235 antileukemic effects. In a subcutaneous xenograft model, BEZ235 and ABT-737 coadministration significantly diminished tumor growth, downregulated Mcl-1, activated caspases, and prolonged survival. Together, these findings suggest that antileukemic synergism between PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors and BH3 mimetics involves multiple mechanisms, including Mcl-1 downregulation, release of Bim from Bcl-2/Bcl-xL as well as Bak and Bax from Mcl-1/Bcl-2/Bcl-xL, and GSK3?/?, culminating in Bax/Bak activation and apoptosis. They also argue that combining PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors with BH3 mimetics warrants attention in AML, particularly in the setting of basal AKT activation and/or addiction.
Project description:Interactions between the irreversible proteasome inhibitor carfilzomib and the pan-BH3 mimetic obatoclax were examined in germinal center (GC)- and activated B-cell-diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (ABC-DLBCL) cells. Cotreatment with minimally toxic concentrations of carfilzomib (i.e., 2-6 nmol/L) and subtoxic concentrations of obatoclax (0.05-2.0 ?mol/L) synergistically increased apoptosis in multiple DLBCL cell lines and increased lethality toward primary human DLBCL but not normal CD34(+) cells. Synergistic interactions were associated with sharp increases in caspase-3 activation, PARP cleavage, p-JNK induction, upregulation of Noxa, and AKT dephosphorylation. Combined treatment also diminished carfilzomib-mediated Mcl-1 upregulation whereas immunoprecipitation analysis revealed reduced associations between Bak and Mcl-1/Bcl-xL and Bim and Mcl-1. The carfilzomib/obatoclax regimen triggered translocation, conformational change, and dimerization of Bax and activation of Bak. Genetic interruption of c-jun-NH(2)-kinase (JNK) and Noxa by short hairpin RNA knockdown, ectopic Mcl-1 expression, or enforced activation of AKT significantly attenuated carfilzomib/obatoclax-mediated apoptosis. Notably, coadministration of carfilzomib/obatoclax sharply increased apoptosis in multiple bortezomib-resistant DLBCL models. Finally, in vivo administration of carfilzomib and obatoclax to mice inoculated with SUDHL4 cells substantially suppressed tumor growth, activated JNK, inactivated AKT, and increased survival compared with the effects of single-agent treatment. Together, these findings argue that a strategy combining carfilzomib and obatoclax warrants attention in DLBCL.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is an aggressive cancer with 50-75% of patients relapsing even after successful chemotherapy. The role of the bone marrow microenvironment (BMM) in protecting AML cells from chemotherapeutics and causing consequent relapse is increasingly recognised. However the role that the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 proteins play as effectors of BMM-mediated drug resistance are less understood. Here we show that bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BMSC) provide resistance to AML cells against BH3-mimetics, cytarabine and daunorubicin, but this is not mediated by Bcl-2 and/or Bcl-XL as previously thought. Instead, BMSCs induced Mcl-1 expression over Bcl-2 and/or Bcl-XL in AML cells and inhibition of Mcl-1 with a small-molecule inhibitor, A1210477, or repressing its expression with the CDC7/CDK9 dual-inhibitor, PHA-767491 restored sensitivity to BH3-mimetics. Furthermore, combined inhibition of Bcl-2/Bcl-XL and Mcl-1 could revert BMSC-mediated resistance against cytarabine + daunorubicin. Importantly, the CD34+/CD38- leukemic stem cell-encompassing population was equally sensitive to the combination of PHA-767491 and ABT-737. These results indicate that Bcl-2/Bcl-XL and Mcl-1 act in a redundant fashion as effectors of BMM-mediated AML drug resistance and highlight the potential of Mcl-1-repression to revert BMM-mediated drug resistance in the leukemic stem cell population, thus, prevent disease relapse and ultimately improve patient survival.
Project description:Human cholangiocarcinomas evade apoptosis by overexpression of Mcl-1. The drug obatoclax (GX15-070) inhibits antiapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family including Mcl-1. The purpose of this study is to determine if obatoclax sensitizes human cholangiocarcinoma cells to apoptosis. The human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines, KMCH, KMBC, and TFK, were employed for these studies. Protein expression was assessed by immunoblot and protein-protein interactions detected by coprecipitation of the polypeptide of interest with S-tagged Mcl-1. Activation of Bak and Bax was observed by immunocytochemistry with conformation-specific antisera. Obatoclax induced minimal apoptosis alone; however, it increased apoptosis 3- to 13-fold in all three cancer cell lines when combined with Apo2L/tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Obatoclax did not alter cellular expression of Bid, Bim, Puma, Noxa, Bak, Bax, Mcl-1, or cFLIP. Mcl-1 binding to Bak was readily identified in untreated cells, and this association was disrupted by treating the cells with obatoclax. Additionally, Bim binding to Mcl-1 was markedly decreased by obatoclax treatment. We also identified alterations in Bak and Bax conformation following treatment with obatoclax plus Apo2L/TRAIL but not with either Apo2L/TRAIL or obatoclax alone. In conclusion, obatoclax releases Bak and Bim from Mcl-1 and sensitizes human cholangiocarcinoma cells to Apo2L/TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Obatoclax is a potentially promising adjunctive agent for the treatment of this cancer.
Project description:Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is characterized by leukemic expansion of lymphoid blasts in hematopoietic tissues. Despite improved therapy only a subset of patients can be cured. Therefore, current research is focusing on new drug-targets. Members of the BCL-2 family and components of the PI3-kinase/mTOR pathway are critically involved in the regulation of growth and survival of ALL cells. We examined the effects of the pan-BCL-2 blocker obatoclax and the PI3-kinase/mTOR-inhibitor BEZ235 on growth and survival of ALL cells. In <sup>3</sup>H-thymidine uptake experiments, both drugs suppressed the <i>in vitro</i> proliferation of leukemic cells in all patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph<sup>+</sup>) ALL and Ph<sup>-</sup> ALL (obatoclax IC<sub>50</sub>: 0.01-5 ?M; BEZ235, IC<sub>50</sub>: 0.01-1 ?M). Both drugs were also found to produce growth-inhibitory effects in all Ph<sup>+</sup> and all Ph<sup>-</sup> cell lines tested. Moreover, obatoclax and BEZ235 induced apoptosis in ALL cells. In drug-combination experiments, obatoclax and BEZ235 exerted synergistic growth-inhibitory effects on ALL cells. Finally, we confirmed that ALL cells, including CD34<sup>+</sup>/CD38<sup>-</sup> stem cells and all cell lines express transcripts for PI3-kinase, mTOR, BCL-2, MCL-1, and BCL-xL. Taken together, this data shows that combined targeting of the PI3-kinase/mTOR-pathway and BCL-2 family-members is a potent approach to counteract growth and survival of ALL cells.
Project description:Despite the fact that new treatment regimes have improved overall survival of patients challenged by colorectal cancer (CRC), prognosis in the metastatic situation is still restricted. The Bcl-2 family of proteins has been identified as promising anti cancer drug target. Even though small molecules targeting Bcl-2 proteins are in clinical trials, little is known regarding their effects on CRC. The aim of this study was to preclinically investigate the value of ABT-737 and Obatoclax as anticancer drugs for CRC treatment. The effects of the BH3-mimetics ABT-737 and Obatoclax on CRC cells were assessed using viability and apoptosis assays. Wound healing migration and boyden chamber invasion assays were applied. 3-dimensional cell cultures were used for long term assessment of invasion and proliferation. Clinically relevant concentrations of pan-Bcl-2 inhibitor Obatoclax did not induce cell death. In contrast, the BH3-mimetic ABT-737 induced apoptosis in a dose dependent manner. Obatoclax caused a cell line specific slowdown of CRC cell growth. Furthermore, Obatoclax, but not ABT-737, recovered E-Cadherin expression and led to impaired migration and invasion of CRC cells. The proliferative capacity and invasiveness of CRC cells was strikingly inhibited by low dose Obatoclax in long term 3-dimensional cell cultures. Obatoclax, but not ABT-737, caused a G1-phase arrest accompanied by a downregulation of Cyclin D1 and upregulation of p27 and p21. Overexpression of Mcl-1, Bcl-xL or Bcl-2 reversed the inhibitory effect of Obatoclax on migration but failed to restore the proliferative capacity of Obatoclax-treated CRC cells. The data presented indicate broad and multifaceted antitumor effects of the pan-Bcl-2 inhibitor Obatoclax on CRC cells. In contrast to ABT-737, Obatoclax inhibited migration, invasion and proliferation in sublethal doses. In summary, this study recommends pan-Bcl-2 inhibition as a promising approach for clinical trials in CRC.
Project description:Many acute myeloid leukaemias (AMLs) express high levels of BCL-2 and MCL-1, especially after therapy. To test the impact of these anti-apoptotic proteins on AML development and treatment, we used haemopoietic reconstitution to generate MLL-AF9 AMLs expressing BCL-2 or Mcl-1 transgenes. AMLs with elevated BCL-2 or MCL-1 had a higher proportion of mature myeloid cells but, like conventional MLL-AF9 AMLs, were readily transplantable. Short-term cell lines established from multiple primary AMLs of each genotype were tested in vitro for susceptibility to chemotherapeutics currently used for treating AML (daunorubicin, etoposide, cytarabine); the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib; CDK7/9 inhibitors; and BH3 mimetics, which bind and inhibit pro-survival proteins. The BH3 mimetics tested, alone and in combination with the other drugs, were: ABT-737 which, like its clinical counterpart navitoclax, targets BCL-2, BCL-XL and BCL-W; BCL-2-specific ABT-199 (venetoclax); BCL-XL-specific A-1331852; and S63845, a new MCL-1-specific BH3 mimetic. As single agents, daunorubicin and bortezomib had the greatest efficacy. Elevated MCL-1 or BCL-2 reduced sensitivity to daunorubicin but, surprisingly, not to bortezomib. MCL-1 markedly enhanced resistance to ABT-737 and ABT-199 but not S63845, and BCL-2 increased resistance to S63845 but not to ABT-737 or ABT-199. Notable synergies were achieved by combining BH3 mimetics with daunorubicin: S63845 increased the sensitivity of both MCL-1 and BCL-2 overexpressing MLL-AF9 AMLs, and ABT-737 aided in killing those overexpressing BCL-2. Synergy between daunorubicin and ABT-199 was also apparent in vivo, although not curative. Impressive synergistic responses were achieved for human MLL-fusion AML cell lines treated with daunorubicin plus either ABT-737, ABT-199 or S63845, and with ABT-199 plus S63845, with or without daunorubicin. Our data suggest that AML patients may benefit from combining conventional cytotoxic drugs with BH3 mimetics targeting BCL-2 or MCL-1 or, if tolerated, both these agents.