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What's New in Research - September 11, 2002

Proteasome inhibitor PS-341 inhibits human myeloma cell growth in vivo and prolongs survival in a murine model.
LeBlanc R, Catley LP, Hideshima T, Lentzsch S, Mitsiades CS, Mitsiades N, Neuberg D, Goloubeva O, Pien CS, Adams J, Gupta D, Richardson PG, Munshi NC, Anderson KC. Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center, Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.

The proteasome is a ubiquitous and essential intracellular enzyme that degrades many proteins regulating cell cycle, apoptosis, transcription, cell adhesion,angiogenesis, and antigen presentation. We have shown recently that the proteasome inhibitor PS-341 inhibits growth, induces apoptosis, and overcomes drug resistance in human myeloma cells in vitro. In this study, we examined the efficacy, toxicity, and in vivo mechanism of action of PS-341 using a human plasmacytoma xenograft mouse model. One hundred immunodeficient (beige-nude-xid) mice were used in two independent experiments. The mice were injected s.c. with 3 x 10(7) RPMI-8226 myeloma cells. When tumors became measurable (9.2 days; range, 6-13 days after tumor injection), mice were assigned to treatment groups receiving PS-341 0.05 mg/kg (n = 13), 0.1 mg/kg (n = 15), 0.5 mg/kg (n = 14), or 1.0 mg/kg (n = 14) twice weekly via tail vein, or to control groups (n = 13) receiving the vehicle only. Significant inhibition of tumor growth, even with some complete tumor regression, was observed in PS-341-treated mice. The median overall survival was also significantly prolonged compared with controls (30 and 34 days for high dose-treated mice versus 14 days for controls; P < 0.0001). PS-341 was well tolerated up to 0.5 mg/kg, but some mice treated at 1.0 mg/kg became moribund and lost weight. Analysis of tumors harvested from treated animals showed that PS-341 induced apoptosis and decreased angiogenesis in vivo. These studies therefore demonstrate that PS-341 has significant in vivo antimyeloma activity at doses that are well tolerated in a murine model, confirming our in vitro data and further supporting the early clinical promise of PS-341 to overcome drug resistance and improve patient outcome.

Enhanced Sensitivity of Multiple Myeloma Cells Containing PTEN Mutations to CCI-779.
Shi Y, Gera J, Hu L, Hsu JH, Bookstein R, Li W, Lichtenstein A. Division of Hematology-Oncology, West Los Angeles VA-UCLA Medical Center and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles, California 90073 [Y. S., J. G., L. H., J-h. H., A. L.].

Recent work identifies the AKT kinase as a potential mediator of tumor expansionin multiple myeloma. The finding of PTEN mutations in several myeloma cell lines suggests that loss of PTEN function may be one mechanism by which AKT activity is increased in this disease. Because PTEN-deficient myeloma cells may have up-regulated activity of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), downstream of AKT, they may be particularly sensitive to mTOR inhibition. To test this hypothesis, we challenged myeloma cell lines with CCI-779, a newly developed analogue of rapamycin and an efficient inhibitor of mTOR. Three of four PTEN-deficient cell lines with constitutively active AKT were remarkably sensitive to cytoreduction and G(1) arrest induced by CCI-779 with ID(50) concentrations of <1 nM. In contrast, myeloma cells expressing wild-type PTEN were >1000-fold more resistant. Acute expression of a constitutively active AKT gene in CCI-779-resistant myeloma cells containing wild-type PTEN and quiescent AKT did not convert them to the CCI-779-sensitive phenotype. Conversely, expression of wild-type PTEN in CCI-779-sensitive, PTEN-deficient myeloma cells did not induce resistance. Differential sensitivity did not appear to be due to differences in the ability of CCI-779 to inhibit mTOR and induce dephosphorylation of p70S6kinase or 4E-BP1. However, CCI-779 inhibited expression of c-myc in CCI-sensitive PTEN-null myeloma cells but had no effect on expression in CCI-resistant cells. In contrast, cyclin D1 expression was not altered in either sensitive or resistant cells. These results indicate that PTEN-deficient myeloma cells are remarkably sensitive to mTOR inhibition. Although the results of transfection studies suggest that the level of PTEN and AKT function per se does not regulate sensitivity, PTEN/AKT status may be a good predictive marker of sensitivity.

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