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Br J Cancer. 2011 Jan 18;104(2):281-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6606035. Epub 2010 Dec 21.

PBOX-15, a novel microtubule targeting agent, induces apoptosis, upregulates death receptors, and potentiates TRAIL-mediated apoptosis in multiple myeloma cells.

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John Durkan Leukaemia Laboratories, Institute of Molecular Medicine, Trinity College Dublin, St James's Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland.



In recent years, much progress has been made in the treatment of multiple myeloma. However, a major limitation of existing chemotherapeutic drugs is the eventual emergence of resistance; hence, the development of novel agents with new mechanisms of action is pertinent. Here, we describe the activity and mechanism of action of pyrrolo-1,5-benzoxazepine-15 (PBOX-15), a novel microtubule-targeting agent, in multiple myeloma cells.


The anti-myeloma activity of PBOX-15 was assessed using NCI-H929, KMS11, RPMI8226, and U266 cell lines, and primary myeloma cells. Cell cycle distribution, apoptosis, cytochrome c release, and mitochondrial inner membrane depolarisation were analysed by flow cytometry; gene expression analysis was carried out using TaqMan Low Density Arrays; and expression of caspase-8 and Bcl-2 family of proteins was assessed by western blot analysis.


Pyrrolo-1,5-benzoxazepine-15 induced apoptosis in ex vivo myeloma cells and in myeloma cell lines. Death receptor genes were upregulated in both NCI-H929 and U266 cell lines, which displayed the highest and lowest apoptotic responses, respectively, following treatment with PBOX-15. The largest increase was detected for the death receptor 5 (DR5) gene, and cotreatment of both cell lines with tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), the DR5 ligand, potentiated the apoptotic response. In NCI-H929 cells, PBOX-15-induced apoptosis was shown to be caspase-8 dependent, with independent activation of extrinsic and intrinsic apoptotic pathways. A caspase-8-dependent decrease in expression of Bim(EL) preceded downregulation of other Bcl-2 proteins (Bid, Bcl-2, Mcl-1) in PBOX-15-treated NCI-H929 cells.


PBOX-15 induces apoptosis and potentiates TRAIL-induced cell death in multiple myeloma cells. Thus, PBOX-15 represents a promising agent, with a distinct mechanism of action, for the treatment of this malignancy.

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