JS-K (O2-(2,4-dinitrophenyl) 1-[(4-ethoxycarbonyl)piperazin-1-yl]diazen-1-ium-1,2-diolate) is a diazeniumdiolate class of prodrug which is designed to release nitric oxide (NO·) on reaction with glutathione S-transferases (GST). GST has been shown to be overexpressed in a broad spectrum of tumor cells. Therefore, JS-K can possibly turn GST overexpression to the tumor’s disadvantage by generating high intracellular concentrations of cytotoxic NO·. Multiple myeloma (MM) is currently an incurable hematological malignancy where new treatment options are urgently needed. In this study we investigated the cytotoxicity of JS-K in MM in vitro and in vivo. JS-K showed significant cytotoxicity in both conventional therapy-sensitive and -resistant MM cell lines, as well as patient MM cells (IC50: 0.3–2.5 mM). Importantly, no significant cytotoxic effects of JS-K at these doses were observed in normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells. JS-K treatment induced apoptosis in MM cells which was associated with PARP, caspase 8, and caspase 9 cleavage; increased cell surface expression of Fas/CD95; Mcl-1 cleavage; Bcl-2 phosphorylation; as well as mitochondrial cyt c, AIF, and EndoG release. Moreover, JS-K could overcome the survival and growth advantages conferred by exogenous IL-6 and IGF-1, or by adherence of MM cells to bone marrow stromal cells. Flow cytometry experiments revealed significant NO· generation in JS-K-treated MM cells. Since NO· is known to cause DNA double strand breaks (DSB), we hypothesized that JS-K induces DSB in MM cells and confirmed DSB formation by neutral comet assay. We further showed that JS-K also activated DNA damage response pathways as evidenced by H2AX, Chk2 and p53 phosphorylation. In addition, JNK was also activated by JS-K treatment in MM cells, and inhibition of JNK significantly decreased JS-K-induced cytotoxicity, suggesting that JS-K induced apoptosis is mediated via JNK signaling. Finally, JS-K was also significantly effective in inhibiting tumor growth and prolonging median survival (p < 0.01) in a human plasmacytoma xenograft mouse model. Analysis of tumors harvested from treated animals showed that JS-K induced apoptosis and decreased angiogenesis in vivo. Taken together, these data provide the preclinical rationale for the clinical evaluation of JS-K to improve patient outcome in MM.

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