From a high throughput RNAi screen of the human druggable genome targeting the KMS11 cell line, we identified the suppression of the vacuolar H+- ATPase (V-ATPase) family as cytotoxic to myeloma cells. In the screen, two oligos against each gene for the V-ATPase subunits ATP6V1A and ATP6V1B1 resulted in suppression of cell growth (50% and 60% inhibition of cell viability respectively). We further confirmed this result using both lentiviral shRNA knockdown and two small molecule inhibitors specific for V-ATPase. Silencing of ATP6V1A by lentiviral shRNA knock-down in KMS11 and in OPM1 myeloma cell lines caused 75–80% reduction of cell viability at 5 days post infection (measured by MTT assay). Consistent with this result, the V-ATPase specific inhibitors, bafilomycin A1 and REATA 203, both inhibited the growth of a genetically heterogeneous and standardized panel of 14 human myeloma cell lines in vitro with an IC50 ranging from 2.2 – 8.9 nM (mean 5.25 nM) for bafilomycin A1 and 46–1594 nM (mean 542.5 nM)) for REATA 203. We further demonstrated that patient samples (n=10) were sensitive to 20nM bafilomycin A1 which induced a mean of 58% of MM cells to undergo apoptosis (range 10% to 93%) after 24 hours of treatment. Similar to bafilomycin A1, treatment of primary patient-derived MM cells with 500 nM REATA 203 for 72 hours resulted in a mean 69% apoptosis (range 24% to 97%). In contrast, non-myeloma cells (the CD138- fractions of the bone marrow samples) were less sensitive - mean 9% apoptosis (range from 0% to 34%) under the same treatment conditions. Of high interest, however, unlike most drugs we have studied in pre-clinical myeloma models, the cytotoxicity induced by bafilomycin A1 in MM cell lines is abrogated by co-culture with patient bone marrow stromal cells but is not affected by IL-6 or IGF-1 treatment. Dexamethasone- or melphalan-resistant MM cell lines were also highly sensitive to both bafilomycin A1 and REATA 203. In a xenographic JJN3 mouse model, bafilomycin A1 suppresses and delays growth of tumor in a dose-dependent fashion. Gene expression analysis of normal-donor bone marrow plasma cells (n=19), primary tumor samples from MM patients (n=107) and normal somatic tissues demonstrates ubiquitous expression of most subunits of V-ATPase, however, some subunits are preferentially expressed in myeloma cells compared with normal plasma cells, including ATP6V1F (84% vs. 11%), ATP6V1E1 (29% vs. 5%), ATP6V1G2 (17% vs. 0%) and ATP6V0E 2 (36% vs. 16%). In conclusion, our data indicate that vacuolar H+-ATPase inhibitors are of interest as potential therapeutics for MM.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.