Deletions and mutations in the tumor suppressor protein p53 are an uncommon observation in new multiple myeloma (MM) patients and are observed more commonly in patients with advanced disease. p53 deletion has been observed to correlate with poor overall and progression free survival in MM patients. Wild type p53 modulates the expression levels of a broad array of proteins involved in cell cycle progression, apoptosis ultimately leading to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. p53 is negatively regulated by MDM2. MDM2 binds to and ubiquitinates p53 marking it for proteasomal degradation. In addition, MDM2 is a direct downstream regulator of p53. Targeting the p53-MDM2 interaction by developing agents that bind to the p53 binding motif of MDM2 and reactivating p53 has therefore been an active area of research. Here, we present results from our pre-clinical studies using AT219, a small molecule inhibitor that binds to MDM2 preventing its interaction with p53.
AT219 was obtained from Ascenta Therapeutics. Stock solutions were made using DMSO and working stock solutions were made using RPMI 1640 media containing 10% fetal bovine serum (20% serum for primary patient cells) supplemented with L-Glutamine, penicillin, and streptomycin. Akt1/2 kinase inhibitor (Akti) was purchased from Sigma. MTT assay was performed to study drug induced cytotoxicity and thymidine uptake was used as a measure to study differences in proliferation. Flow cytometry using Annexin V-FITC and propidium iodide (PI) was used to measure drug induced apoptosis in cell lines and patient cells. In addition, apo-2.7 was also used to measure apoptosis in patient cells. Mitocapture and cytochrome-c assays were also performed to confirm the induction of apoptosis in MM cell lines. In order to study the mechanism of action of the drug, immunoblotting studies were performed on lysates made from cell lines incubated with the drug for various time points.
AT219 induced potent cytotoxicity in MM cell lines MM1S, MM1R and H929, all three expressing wild type p53 with IC50 values of 2.5–5μM. Similar effects were observed when the above mentioned cell lines were treated with AT219 and the inhibitory effect of proliferation of these cells were examined. When MM1S or H929 cells were cultured with bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) derived from MM patients or with one of the three tumor promoting cytokines implicated in MM (IL6, IGF or VEGF) and treated with AT219, the drug was able to inhibit the proliferation of both cell lines to similar extents as observed when cultured independently without BMSCs or the cytokines. The increase in cytotoxicity was found to be due to cells undergoing apoptosis as observed when MM1S or H929 cells were cultured with AT219 and % apoptotic cells were measured as measured by annexin/PI, mitocapture and cytochrome c assays. AT219 was also observed to induce more potent apoptosis in primary cells obtained from new MM patients with wild type p53 than in cells obtained from relapsed MM patients with wild type p53. AT219 clearly upregulated p53 as observed by performing immunoblots after treatment with the drug in MM1S and H929 cells. In addition, MDM2 and p21 were also found to be significantly upregulated and Bax was slightly upregulated post drug treatment. Bcl2, Mcl1 and Xiap levels were down regulated. In MM1S cells AT219 treatment resulted in a slight down regulation of pAkt (Ser 473). However, in H929 cells we observed a transient upregulation of pAkt following AT219 treatment. This prompted us to test AT219 in combination with Akti on MM cell lines. Our results on both MM1S and H929 cells using AT219 in combination with Akti demonstrated synergy. We are currently testing this combination in primary cells drawn from MM patients with both wild type p53 and those with p53 deletions and mutations.
Our studies validate the anti-MM activity of AT219 in MM patients with wild type p53. In addition to using AT219 in combination with Akti, we are testing AT219 in combination with existing anti- MM chemotherapeutic agents. Interesting results from our studies will form the basis for clinical evaluation of AT219 as a single agent or in combination with an Akt inhibitor or other agents in MM patients.
Kumar:Celgene: Consultancy, Research Funding; Merck: Consultancy, Honoraria; Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Research Funding; Novartis: Research Funding; Genzyme: Research Funding; Cephalon: Research Funding.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.