International Journal of Hematology

DOI: 10.1007/s12185-016-2048-5 Pages: 281-292

Epigenetic mechanisms of cell adhesion-mediated drug resistance in multiple myeloma

1. Jichi Medical University, Division of Stem Cell Regulation, Center for Molecular Medicine

Correspondence to:
Yusuke Furukawa
Tel: +81-285-58-7400



Multiple myeloma cells acquire the resistance to anti-cancer drugs through physical and functional interactions with the bone marrow microenvironment via two overlapping mechanisms. First, bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) produce soluble factors, such as interleukin-6 and insulin-like growth factor-1, to activate signal transduction pathways leading to drug resistance (soluble factor-mediated drug resistance). Second, BMSCs up-regulate the expression of cell cycle inhibitors, anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family and ABC drug transporters in myeloma cells upon direct adhesion [cell adhesion-mediated drug resistance (CAM-DR)]. Elucidation of the mechanisms underlying drug resistance may greatly contribute to the advancement of cancer therapies. Recent investigations, including ours, have revealed the involvement of epigenetic alterations in drug resistance especially CAM-DR. For example, we found that class I histone deacetylases (HDACs) determine the sensitivity of proteasome inhibitors and the histone methyltransferase EZH2 regulates the transcription of anti-apoptotic genes during the acquisition of CAM-DR by myeloma cells. In addition, another histone methyltransferase MMSET was shown to confer drug resistance to myeloma cells by facilitating DNA repair. These findings provide a rationale for the inclusion of epigenetic drugs, such as HDAC inhibitors and histone methylation modifiers, in combination chemotherapy for MM patients to increase the therapeutic index.

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