Targeting phospho-MARCKS overcomes drug-resistance and induces antitumor activity in preclinical models of multiple myeloma.

PMID 25179733


Multiple myeloma (MM) is incurable in virtually all patients due to the presence of innate and emergent drug-resistance. To identify potential drug resistance mechanisms in MM we used iTRAQ (isobaric tags for relative and absolute quantitation) mass spectrometry to compare protein expression profiles of drug-resistant (RPMI 8226-R5) and sensitive (RPMI 8226-S) isogenic cell lines. We identified selective overexpression of myristoylated alanine-rich C-kinase substrate (MARCKS) in drug-resistant R5 cells. MARCKS overexpression was also observed in several drug-resistant human myeloma cell lines (HMCLs) and in drug-resistant primary MM samples. Functionally, inhibition of MARCKS phosphorylation by enzastaurin or knockdown of the gene by RNAi significantly enhanced the sensitivity of resistant HMCLs and primary MM samples to bortezomib and to other anti-myeloma drugs, providing evidence that MARCKS can modulate drug response. Mechanistically, pMARCKS (phosphorylated form of MARCKS) was found to function as an E2F-1 cofactor to regulate SKP2 transcription. pMARCKS promoted cell-cycle progression by facilitating SKP2 expression, suppressing p27(Kip1) and potentially counteracting drug-induced cell-cycle arrest by promoting Cyclin E/CDK2 activity. Importantly, MARCKS knockdown in combination with bortezomib treatment overcame bortezomib resistance, significantly inhibited tumor growth and prolonged host survival in a MM xenograft model. These data provide a rationale for therapeutic targeting of pMARCKS to improve the outcome of patients with refractory/relapsed MM.