Inhibition of Bcl-2 antiapoptotic members by obatoclax potently enhances sorafenib-induced apoptosis in human myeloid leukemia cells through a Bim-dependent process

Mohamed Rahmani, Mandy Mayo Aust, Elisa Attkisson, David C. Williams, Andrea Ferreira-Gonzalez, Steven Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations

Abstract

Interactions between the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib and the BH3-mimetic obatoclax (GX15-070) were examined in human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. Treatment with sorafenib/obatoclax induced pronounced apoptosis in and reduced the clonogenic growth of multiple AML lines and primary AML cells but not normal CD34+ cells. Sorafenib triggered rapid and pronounced Mcl-1 downregulation accompanied by enhanced binding of Bim to Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, effects that were abolished by obatoclax coadministration. Notably, shRNA knockdown of Bim, Bak, or Bax, but not Noxa, significantly attenuated obatoclax/ sorafenib lethality, whereas ectopic expression of Mcl-1 exerted a protective effect. Furthermore, exposure of leukemia cells to sorafenib and obatoclax markedly induced autophagy, reflected by rapid and pronounced LC3 processing and LC3-green fluorescent protein (GFP) punctate formation. Multiple autophagy inhibitors or VPS34 knockdown, significantly potentiated sorafenib/obatoclax lethality, indicating a cytoprotective role for autophagy in this setting. Finally, studies in a xenograft mouse model revealed that combined sorafenib/obatoclax treatment markedly reduced tumor growth and significantly prolonged survival in association with Mcl-1 down-regulation and apoptosis induction, whereas agents administered individually had only modest effects. These findings suggest that combining sorafenib with agents that inhibit Mcl-1 and Bcl-2/Bcl-xL such as obatoclax may represent a novel and potentially effective strategy in AML.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)6089-6098
Number of pages10
JournalBlood
Volume119
Issue number25
DOIs
StatePublished - 21 Jun 2012

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