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J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 12;286(32):27988-97. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.213363. Epub 2011 Jun 24.

Constitutive NF-kappaB activation confers interleukin 6 (IL6) independence and resistance to dexamethasone and Janus kinase inhibitor INCB018424 in murine plasmacytoma cells.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


Myeloma cells are dependent on IL6 for their survival and proliferation during the early stages of disease, and independence from IL6 is associated with disease progression. The role of the NF-κB pathway in the IL6-independent growth of myeloma cells has not been studied. Because human herpesvirus 8-encoded K13 selectively activates the NF-κB pathway, we have used it as a molecular tool to examine the ability of the NF-κB pathway to confer IL6 independence on murine plasmacytomas. We demonstrated that ectopic expression of K13, but not its NF-κB-defective mutant or a structural homolog, protected plasmacytomas against IL6 withdrawal-induced apoptosis and resulted in emergence of IL6-independent clones that could proliferate long-term in vitro in the absence of IL6 and form abdominal plasmacytomas with visceral involvement when injected intraperitoneally into syngeneic mice. These IL6-independent clones were dependent on NF-κB activity for their survival and proliferation but were resistant to dexamethasone and INCB018424, a selective Janus kinase 1/2 inhibitor. Ectopic expression of human T cell leukemia virus 1-encoded Tax protein, which resembles K13 in inducing constitutive NF-κB activation, similarly protected plasmacytoma cells against IL6 withdrawal-induced apoptosis. Although K13 is known to up-regulate IL6 gene expression, its protective effect was not due to induction of endogenous IL6 production but instead was associated with sustained expression of several antiapoptotic members of the Bcl2 family upon IL6 withdrawal. Collectively, these results demonstrate that NF-κB activation cannot only promote the emergence of IL6 independence during myeloma progression but can also confer resistance to dexamethasone and INCB018424.

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