Aberrant over production of monoclonal immunoglobulin is a classic feature of the plasma cell (PC) malignancy multiple myeloma (MM). At diagnosis and more frequently upon relapse, some MM patients present with increased production of monoclonal free light chain (FLC) without a corresponding increase in intact immunoglobulin. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as light chain escape (LCE). As previously described (Walters et al. 2018, Experimental Hematology, Vol 57 p42-49), we have established a monoclonal IgA kappa MM cell line, designated as MC-B11/14, from the bone marrow (BM) aspirate of a 46 year old man diagnosed with MM. This cell line is non-hyperdiploid and possesses an 11;14 chromosomal translocation. Given our long standing interest in immunoglobulin function and secretion, we used CRISPR technology to knock out IgA heavy chain production in an effort to create a model of LCE. Successful knockout (KO) of IgA expression was demonstrated by immunofluorescence, flow cytometry, and western blot. As expected, secretion of intact IgA was undetectable in the MC-B11/14IgA- cells. Notably, no significant difference in morphology, phenotypic markers, or growth patterns was observed between the MC-B11/14WT and MC-B11/14IgA- cells. Examination of drug sensitivity between the MC-B11/14WT and MC-B11/14IgA- cells revealed that the response to pomalidomide treatment was similar between the MC-B11/14WT and MC-B11/14IgA- cells; however, the MC-B11/14IgA- cells were found to be more resistant to treatment with bortezomib. Given that increased bortezomib resistance was the only significant difference detected between the MC-B11/14WT and MC-B11/14IgA- cell lines in our initial study, we decided to take a metabolomics approach to examine whether loss of IgA heavy chain expression may alter cellular metabolism. Metabolomics or the profiling of small molecules is a powerful tool to characterize the metabolome of cells/biological systems and has proven to be useful in identifying alterations that occur in malignancy. In this regard, we employed pathway-specific targeted LC-MS/MS protocols in order to examine over 330 metabolites in 35 metabolic pathways in MC-B11/14WT and MC-B11/14IgA- methanolmetabolite extracts using an Agilent 1290 UPLC-6490 QQQ-MS liquid chromatography mass-spectrometer. Of the 330 metabolites examined, 28 were found to be significantly more abundant in the MC-B11/14IgA- cells compared to MC-B11/14 WT cells while 79 were found to be significantly less abundant. In general, the majority of significant metabolic differences between the two cell lines were found to involve metabolites from various amino acid synthesis pathways. More specifically, the MC-B11/14 WT cell line was found to possess significantly more citraconic acid, anthranilic acid, and homovanillic acid. By contrast, further analysis revealed that the MC-B11/14IgA- cell line was found to possess an 11.5 fold increase of the metabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate (2-HG). 2-HG has previously been shown to act as a competitive antagonist of α-ketoglutarate (α-KG), which results in the inhibition of α-KG-dependent dioxygenases including the JmjC domain-containing histone demethylases (KDMs) and the ten-eleven translocation (TET) family of DNA hydroxylases. Notably, these proteins are known to play a role in histone and DNA demethylation, respectively. Taken together, these data suggest that MM cells that have undergone LCE may also possess an accumulation of 2-HG which could lead to altered patterns of histone and DNA methylation. Given that MM patients who relapse with LCE typically have a poorer prognosis, further investigation of metabolomics in light-chain only expressing cell lines and patients who have relapsed with LCE is warranted.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.