VEGF induces Mcl-1 up-regulation and protects multiple myeloma cells against apoptosis

Steven Le Gouill, Klaus Podar, Martine Amiot, Teru Hideshima, Dharminder Chauhan, Kenji Ishitsuka, Shaji Kumar, Noopur Raje, Paul G. Richardson, Jean-Luc Harousseau, Kenneth C. Anderson


Interleukin-6 (IL-6) triggers multiple myeloma (MM) cell proliferation and protects against apoptosis by up-regulating myeloid cell leukemia 1 (Mcl-1). Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) induces modest proliferation of MM cells and induces IL-6 secretion in a paracrine loop involving MM cells and bone marrow stromal cells. Using murine embryonic fibroblast cell lines as a model (Mcl-1wt/wt and Mcl-1Δ/null MEFs), we here demonstrate that deletion of Mcl-1 reduces fetal bovine serum (FBS)-, VEGF-, and IL-6-induced proliferation. We also show that VEGF up-regulates Mcl-1 expression in a time- and dose-dependent manner in 3 human MM cell lines and MM patient cells. Importantly, we demonstrate that the pan-VEGF inhibitor, GW654652, inhibits VEGF-induced up-regulation of Mcl-1 and, as with Mcl-1 siRNA, is associated with decreased proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Finally, we show that VEGF protects MM patient cells against FBS starvation-induced apoptosis. Our studies therefore demonstrate that VEGF-induced MM cell proliferation and survival are mediated via Mcl-1, providing the preclinical framework for novel therapeutics targeting Mcl-1 and/or VEGF to improve patient outcome in MM.

  • Submitted May 7, 2004.
  • Accepted June 11, 2004.
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