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Genetic biomarkers predict response to dual BCL-2 and MCL-1 targeting in acute myeloid leukaemia cells

Grundy, Martin; Balakrishnan, Sahana; Fox, Matthew; Seedhouse, Claire; Russell, Nigel


Sahana Balakrishnan

Martin Grundy

Sahana Balakrishnan

Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox

Claire H. Seedhouse

Nigel H. Russell

Nigel Russell


Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) cells often up-regulate pro-survival members of the BCL-2 protein family, such as BCL-2 and MCL-1, to avoid apoptosis. Venetoclax (ABT-199) targets BCL-2 and has shown promising efficacy in AML but over-expression of MCL-1 can cause resistance. A co-operative approach, targeting both BCL-2 and MCL-1 may therefore prove beneficial. This study investigated the potential synergistic relationship between Venetoclax and the MCL-1 inhibitor S63845 in AML cells. We treated MV4-11 cells and primary AML samples for 4 hours with Venetoclax, S63845 or the combination. We used a short-term flow cytometric technique to assess synergy using cytochrome C release as a read out of response. The combination of Venetoclax and S63845 produced a synergistic apoptotic response in MV4-11 cells and primary samples, including the leukaemia re-populating leukaemic stem cell (LSC) population, in 92% of the samples. Known molecular biomarkers of response to BCL-2 and MCL-1 targeting agents were corroborated, and augmented, with the short-term functional assay. The assay also predicted potential biomarkers of response to the combination of BCL-2 and MCL-1 targeting agents. Primary samples with an IDH2_140 mutation were more sensitive to Venetoclax as a single agent whereas samples with a FLT3-ITD mutation were more resistant. This resistance could be reversed when combined with S63845. All FLT3-ITD and NPM1 mutated samples were sensitive to the combination of drugs.

We report that co-operatively targeting BCL-2 and MCL-1 may be beneficial in AML and a short-term in vitro assay can identify patients who might best respond to this combination.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 28, 2018
Journal Oncotarget
Electronic ISSN 1949-2553
Publisher Impact Journals
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Article Number 102
Keywords Oncology
Publisher URL[]=26540&path[]=82570


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