We have recently shown that silencing of tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) with a C-terminal siRNA inhibits proliferation and increases apoptosis of multiple myeloma (MM) tumor cells. In addition, TRAF6 ubiquitin ligase is also essential for receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL) signaling and osteoclast differentiation. Based on TRAF6, CD40, and RANKL sequences and the TRAF6 interaction domain with CD40 or RANKL resides between residues 333 to 508, we cloned a sequence representing a 167 amino acid sequence from this domain in order to produce a TRAF6 dominant negative fragment (TRAF6dn) from the NIH gene bank (U78798) into the PCRII-TOPO vector. Subsequently, we re-cloned this fragment into an expression vector (pLenti6.2-hTRAF6dn). Expression of the TRAF6 dominant negative peptide was confirmed by Western blot analysis. We used human MM monocytes isolated by anti-CD14 micro-bead affinity column from MM patients’ peripheral blood (PB) or bone marrow (BM). In order to quantify osteoclast formation, the cells were fixed and stained for tartrate resistant acid phosphatase following seven days of culture. The BM and PB CD14+ cells were cultured on slide-culture dishes at a density of 2 × 105 cells per well. The cells infected with the pLenti6.2-hTRAF6dn or with the control vector, pLenti6.2/GW/EmGFP, were treated with 50ng/ml RANKL and 10ng/ml mCSF at the beginning of the culture period, and these factors were added again during a medium change after three days of incubation. We found that the TRAF6dn vector significantly inhibited osteoclast cell formation of CD14+ cells induced by RANKL and mCSF in a concentration dependent fashion compared with the control group. Furthermore, we examined c-Jun, a component of the transcription factor complex AP-1, which binds and activates transcription at TRE/AP-1 elements. The results showed that total endogenous c-Jun is reduced after TRAF6dn blocks TRAF6 signaling whereas cells infected with the control vector showed no changes in c-Jun. We further examined the effects of TRAF6dn on MM cell growth and apoptosis. Both tumor cells from fresh MM BM and the U266 and MM1s cell lines showed decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis in the presence of the TRAF6dn vector at 72 hours whereas the control vector had no effect on MM tumor cell growth or apoptosis. Furthermore, the TRAF6dn vector led to marked decreases in phospho-NF-kB protein levels compared to the control vector. Thus, we have demonstrated that inhibition of TRAF6 with a dominant negative construct both inhibits MM cell growth as well as osteoclast formation, and also reduces NF-kB activation and c-Jun levels which likely results in decreased activation of TRE/AP-1 elements. These studies suggest that the inhibition of TRAF6 may be an excellent therapeutic target for multiple myeloma since its inhibition results in suppression of tumor growth as well as osteoclast formation.

Author notes

Disclosure:Research Funding: Kramer, Annenberg & Skirball Foundation Grants.