Combined inhibition of Bcl-2/Bcl-xL and Usp9X/Bag3 overcomes apoptotic resistance in glioblastoma in vitro and in vivo.

PMID 26008975


Despite great efforts taken to advance therapeutic measures for patients with glioblastoma, the clinical prognosis remains grim. The antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family protein Mcl-1 is overexpressed in glioblastoma and represents an important resistance factor to the BH-3 mimetic ABT263. In this study, we show that combined treatment with ABT263 and GX15-070 overcomes apoptotic resistance in established glioblastoma cell lines, glioma stem-like cells and primary cultures. Moreover, this treatment regimen also proves to be advantageous in vivo. On the molecular level, GX15-070 enhanced apoptosis by posttranslational down-regulation of the deubiquitinase, Usp9X, and the chaperone Bag3, leading to a sustained depletion of Mcl-1 protein levels. Moreover, knock-down of Usp9X or Bag3 depleted endogenous Mcl-1 protein levels and in turn enhanced apoptosis induced through Bcl-2/Bcl-xL inhibition. In conclusion, combined treatment with ABT263 and GX15-070 results in a significantly enhanced anti-cancer activity in vitro as well as in vivo in the setting of glioblastoma. Both drugs, ABT263 and GX15-070 have been evaluated in clinical studies which facilitates the translational aspect of taking this combinatorial approach to the clinical setting. Furthermore we present a novel mechanism by which GX15-070 counteracts Mcl-1 expression which may lay a foundation for a novel target in cancer therapy.