Multiple myeloma (MM) is molecularly heterogenous disease with significant genomic instability. It carries number of mutations at diagnosis (median > 7000) and acquires additional changes overtime. With this background, we have evaluated the molecular intermediates of genomic instability in MM. Based on our large transcriptomic data we have identified apurinic/apyrimidinic deoxyribonuclease (APEX) as an important target whose elevated activity contributes to dysregulation of homologous recombination (HR) and genome stability in MM. Our investigation also demonstrates that transgenic overexpression of APEX nucleases induces genomic instability, leading to oncogenic transformation and tumorigenesis in a murine and Zebrafish models. Importantly, we have now observed that both transgenic as well as chemical inhibition of APEX1, reduces DNA breaks, HR activity and genomic instability as measured by micronucleus assay, and induces G2/M arrest in myeloma as well as esophageal cancer cells.
To identify novel and effective inhibitors of APEX1, we optimized a high throughput APEX1 activity assay and screened a custom library of 100,000 small molecules. We identified API-93 as an effective APEX inhibitor in both the primary and secondary screens, and have now investigated it, alone as well as in combination, with existing myeloma drugs, for impact on different parameters of growth and genome maintenance. Although API-93 had minimal single agent cytotoxic effect on MM cells, it synergistically increased cytotoxicity of chemotherapeutic agent cyclophosphamide in both MM cell lines (MM1S and RPMI) tested, and also increased the efficacy of melphalan in several MM cell lines (RPMI, MM1R, KK1 and LR5) tested. A strong synergistic effect of API-93 was also observed in combination with lenalidomide in 5 MM cell lines tested (RPMI, MM1S, MM1R, KK1, H929; combination indexes < 1) as well as velcade in MM cells.
For evaluation of impact on genomic changes, myeloma cells were treated with API-93, live cells purified and evaluated for impact on DNA breaks (by measuring levels of γ-H2AX), DNA end resection (a decisive step in the initiation of HR, by monitoring levels of p-RPA32), and genome stability by investigating micronuclei (the marker of genomic instability). Treatment with API-93 reduced spontaneous as well as melphalan-induced DNA breaks, DNA end resection as well as genomic instability (as assessed by significant reduction in micronuclei) in MM cells, in a dose-dependent manner. To further confirm the impact on genome stability, the MM cells were cultured in the presence or absence of API-93, and the acquisition of new copy number changes over 3 weeks were measured using SNP arrays, in the cultured relative to Day 0 cells (representing baseline genome). Relative to control cells, the cells treated with API-93 resulted in dose-dependent decrease in the acquisition of new copy number events, from 50% to > 90%.
In conclusion, these data demonstrate APEX gene as being associated with MM cell survival and with genome instability. The novel APEX1 inhibitor, identified in a functional screen, provides an important tool to augment cytotoxicity of the current therapeutics while significantly decreasing genomic evolution in MM.
Munshi:Adaptive: Consultancy; Takeda: Consultancy; Amgen: Consultancy; Legend: Consultancy; Janssen: Consultancy; C4: Current equity holder in private company; OncoPep: Consultancy, Current equity holder in private company, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees, Patents & Royalties; BMS: Consultancy; AbbVie: Consultancy; Karyopharm: Consultancy.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.