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J Immunol. 2000 Dec 1;165(11):6347-55.

Ku86 variant expression and function in multiple myeloma cells is associated with increased sensitivity to DNA damage.

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Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Ku is a heterodimer of Ku70 and Ku86 that binds to double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs), activates the catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) when DNA is bound, and is essential in DSB repair and V(D)J recombination. Given that abnormalities in Ig gene rearrangement and DNA damage repair are hallmarks of multiple myeloma (MM) cells, we have characterized Ku expression and function in human MM cells. Tumor cells (CD38(+)CD45RA(-)) from 12 of 14 (86%) patients preferentially express a 69-kDa variant of Ku86 (Ku86v). Immunoblotting of whole cell extracts (WCE) from MM patients shows reactivity with Abs targeting Ku86 N terminus (S10B1) but no reactivity with Abs targeting Ku86 C terminus (111), suggesting that Ku86v has a truncated C terminus. EMSA confirmed a truncated C terminus in Ku86v and further demonstrated that Ku86v in MM cells had decreased Ku-DNA end binding activity. Ku86 forms complexes with DNA-PKcs and activates kinase activity, but Ku86v neither binds DNA-PKcs nor activates kinase activity. Furthermore, MM cells with Ku86v have increased sensitivity to irradiation, mitomycin C, and bleomycin compared with patient MM cells or normal bone marrow donor cells with Ku86. Therefore, this study suggests that Ku86v in MM cells may account for decreased DNA repair and increased sensitivity to radiation and chemotherapeutic agents, whereas Ku86 in MM cells confers resistance to DNA damaging agents. Coupled with a recent report that Ku86 activity correlates with resistance to radiation and chemotherapy, these results have implications for the potential role of Ku86 as a novel therapeutic target.

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