Myeloma survival and proliferation in the bone marrow (BM) depends on the expression of a variety of autocrine and paracrine growth factors, including IL-6, insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). We recently discovered an additional new autocrine myeloma growth factor, pleiotrophin (PTN). PTN is an 18kD heparin-binding protein normally expressed during early development and downregulated in adults, but aberrant PTN re-expression has been associated with a variety of aggressive solid tumors including neuroblastoma, glioma, melanoma and lung, breast and prostate cancers. We found that interference with PTN using a polyclonal anti-PTN antibody inhibited the proliferation of myeloma cells in vitro and in vivo by inducing cell cycle arrest but not apoptosis. To determine the mechanism by which PTN stimulates myeloma proliferation we analyzed the expression of the known PTN receptors, syndecans 1 (CD138) and 3, the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) and the receptor tyrosine phosphatase beta/zeta (RPTPβ/ζ) on myeloma cells. The expression of ALK and RPTPβ/ζ has not previously been investigated in any hematologic malignancy. In addition to syndecan 1 we found that a subset of myeloma cell lines and BM mononuclear cells (BMMCs) from myeloma patients are RPTPβ/ζ+ by RT-PCR, Western blot and flow cytometry. Myeloma cells, however, do not express ALK. RPTPβ/ζ inhibition by PTN binding leads to the accumulation of β-catenin, and downstream activation of Wnt, NF-κB, MAPK and Akt-mediated cell signals in cells from solid tumors, signaling pathways known to contribute to myeloma cell survival and proliferation. The myeloma cell line MM-1S and the SCID-hu myeloma model LAGλ-1 are both CD138+ but RPTPβ/ζ. Nonetheless, the growth of these cells is inhibited by anti-PTN antibody. CD138 lacks cytoplasmic signaling motifs suggesting that additional novel receptors are required for PTN-stimulated cell growth in these cells. To continue to define PTN-mediated signaling in myeloma cells we compared the induction of PTN-regulated signaling pathways in RPTPβ/ζ+ RPMI 8226 cells compared to RPTPβ/ζ MM-1s cells by phospho-protein Western blot. We found differences in PTN-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation between RPTPβ/ζ+ and RPTPβ/ζ cells. Specifically, we also discovered that RPTPβ/ζ+ RPMI 8226 cells activate the MAPK Erk1/2. In contrast, we found Akt, but not Erk1/2, to be activated by PTN in RPTPβ/ζ MM-1S cells. We are now continuing our analysis of PTN signaling in these cells. We are using also identifying new PTN receptors on the surface of myeloma cells by affinity chromatography using biotinylated-PTN. These studies will provide potential new targets that should lead to the development of novel targeted anti-myeloma therapies.

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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