Interaction between multiple myeloma (MM) cells and the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment plays a critical role in promoting MM cell growth, survival, migration and development of drug resistance. This interaction within the bone marrow milieu is unique and its understanding is important in evaluating effects of novel agents in vitro and in vivo. We here describe a novel murine model that allows us to study the expression changes in vivo in MM cells within the human BM milieu. In this model, the green fluorescent protein (INA-6 GFP+) transduced IL-6-dependent human MM cell line, INA-6, was injected in human bone chip implanted into SCID mice. At different time points the bone chip was retrieved, cells flushed out and GFP+ MM cells were purified by CD138 MACS microbeads. Similar isolation process was used on INA-6 GFP+ cells cultured in vitro and used as control. Total RNA was isolated from these cells and gene expression profile analyzed using the HG-U133 array chip (Affymetrix) and DChip analyzer program. We have identified significant changes in expression of several genes following in vivo interaction between INA-6 and the BM microenvironment. Specifically, we observed up-regulation of genes associated with cytokines (IL-4, IL-8, IGFB 2–5) and chemokines (CCL2, 5, 6, 18, 24, CCR1, 2, 4), implicated in cell-cell signalling. Moreover genes implicated in DNA transcription (V-Fos, V-Jun, V-kit), adhesion (Integrin alpha 2b, 7, cadherin 1 and 11) and cell growth (CDC14, Cyclin G2, ADRA1A) were also up-regulated and genes involved in apoptosis and cell death (p-57, BCL2, TNF1a) were down-regulated. Using the Ingenuity Pathway Analysis the most relevant pathways modulated by the in vivo interaction between MM cells and BMSCs were IL-6, IGF1, TGF-beta and ERK/MAPK-mediated pathways as well as cell-cycle regulation and chemokine signalling. These results are consistent with previously observed in vitro cell signalling studies. Taken together these results highlight the ability of BM microenvironment to modulate the gene expression profile of the MM cells and our ability to in vivo monitor the changes. This model thus provides us with an ability to study in vivo effects of novel agents on expression profile of MM cells in BM milieu, to pre-clinically characterize their activity.

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