Bifurcated BACH2 control coordinates mantle cell lymphoma survival and dispersal during hypoxia

Han Zhang, Zheng Chen, Roberto N. Miranda, L. Jeffrey Medeiros and Nami McCarty

Key Points

  • Downregulation of BACH2 increases MCL proliferation, dispersal, and drug resistance.

  • Distinct crosstalk between BACH2 and HIF-1α under different physiological conditions modifies MCL properties.

Publisher's Note: There is an Inside Blood Commentary on this article in this issue.


BACH2, a B-cell–specific transcription factor, plays a critical role in oxidative stress–mediated drug resistance in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL); however, the biological functions of BACH2 and its regulation of B-cell malignancies in chronic hypoxic microenvironment have not been studied. Here, we found that silencing BACH2 led to not only increased tumor formation and colony formation but also increased tumor dispersal to spleen and bone marrow. Decreased BACH2 levels in patients were also correlated with bone marrow and gastrointestinal dispersal of MCL and blastoid subtypes of MCL. Unexpectedly, decreased BACH2 levels in dispersed MCL cells were due to direct transcriptional repression by hypoxia-induced factor 1α (HIF-1α) and increased heme-mediated protein degradation. In normoxic conditions, BACH2 was able to modulate HIF-1α degradation by suppressing prolyl hydroxylase 3 expression. Bifurcated BACH2 controls during hypoxia and normoxia coordinate not only MCL tumor dispersal but also drug resistance, including bortezomib resistance, via plasmacytic differentiation. Our data highlight an interactive relationship between tumor cells and local microenvironment and the mechanisms of B-cell transcription factor in the regulation of MCL dispersal.

  • Submitted February 8, 2017.
  • Accepted May 31, 2017.
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