Targeting deubiquitinase activity with a novel small-molecule inhibitor as therapy for B-cell malignancies.

PMID 25814533


Usp9x was recently shown to be highly expressed in myeloma patients with short progression-free survival and is proposed to enhance stability of the survival protein Mcl-1. In this study, we found that the partially selective Usp9x deubiquitinase inhibitor WP1130 induced apoptosis and reduced Mcl-1 protein levels. However, short hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown (KD) of Usp9x in myeloma cells resulted in transient induction of apoptosis, followed by a sustained reduction in cell growth. A compensatory upregulation of Usp24, a deubiquitinase closely related to Usp9x, in Usp9x KD cells was noted. Direct Usp24 KD resulted in marked induction of myeloma cell death that was associated with a reduction of Mcl-1. Usp24 was found to sustain myeloma cell survival and Mcl-1 regulation in the absence of Usp9x. Both Usp9x and Usp24 were expressed and activated in primary myeloma cells whereas Usp24 protein overexpression was noted in some patients with drug-refractory myeloma and other B-cell malignancies. Furthermore, we improved the drug-like properties of WP1130 and demonstrated that the novel compound EOAI3402143 dose-dependently inhibited Usp9x and Usp24 activity, increased tumor cell apoptosis, and fully blocked or regressed myeloma tumors in mice. We conclude that small-molecule Usp9x/Usp24 inhibitors may have therapeutic activity in myeloma.