Combined targeting of MEK and the glucocorticoid receptor for the treatment of RAS-mutant multiple myeloma

Priya Sriskandarajah, Alexis De Haven Brandon, Kenneth MacLeod, Neil O Carragher, Vladimir Kirkin, Martin Kaiser, Steven R Whittaker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

BACKGROUND: Multiple myeloma (MM) remains incurable despite recent therapeutic advances. RAS mutations are frequently associated with relapsed/refractory disease. Efforts to target the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway with the MEK inhibitor, trametinib (Tra) have been limited by toxicities and the development of resistance. Dexamethasone (Dex) is a corticosteroid commonly used in clinical practice, to enhance efficacy of anti-myeloma therapy. Therefore, we hypothesised that the combination of Tra and Dex would yield synergistic activity in RAS-mutant MM.

METHODS: The response of human MM cell lines to drug treatment was analysed using cell proliferation assays, Western blotting, Annexin V and propidium iodide staining by flow cytometry and reverse phase protein arrays. The efficacy of trametinib and dexamethasone treatment in the MM.1S xenograft model was assessed by measuring tumor volume over time.

RESULTS: The Tra/Dex combination demonstrated synergistic cytotoxicity in KRASG12A mutant lines MM.1S and RPMI-8226. The induction of apoptosis was associated with decreased MCL-1 expression and increased BIM expression. Reverse phase proteomic arrays revealed suppression of FAK, PYK2, FLT3, NDRG1 and 4EBP1 phosphorylation with the Tra/Dex combination. Notably, NDRG1 expression was associated with the synergistic response to Tra/Dex. MM cells were sensitive to PDK1 inhibition and IGF1-induced signalling partially protected from Tra/Dex treatment, highlighting the importance of this pathway. In the MM.1S tumor xenograft model, only the combination of Tra/Dex resulted in a significant inhibition of tumor growth.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall Tra/Dex demonstrates antiproliferative activity in RAS-mutant MM cell lines associated with suppression of pro-survival PDK1 signalling and engagement of apoptotic pathways. Our data support further investigation of this combination in RAS-mutant MM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2020


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