High Levels of APOBEC3B Gene Expression Contribute to Poor Prognosis in Multiple Myeloma Patients

Valeriy V Lyzogubov, Pingping Qu, Cody Ashby, Adam Rosenthal, Antje Hoering, Faith E. Davies, Gareth Morgan and Brian A Walker


Introduction: Poor prognosis and drug resistance in multiple myeloma (MM) is associated with increased mutational load. APOBEC3B is a major contributor to mutagenesis, especially in myeloma patients with t(14;16) MAF subgroup. It was shown recently that presence of the APOBEC signature at diagnosis is an independent prognostic factor for progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). We hypothesized that high levels of APOBEC3B gene expression at diagnosis may also have a prognostic impact in myeloma. To consider APOBEC3B as a potential target for therapy more studies are necessary to understand how APOBEC3B expression is regulated and how APOBEC3B generates mutations.

Methods: Gene expression profiling (GEP, U133 Plus 2.0) of MM patients was performed. APOBEC3B gene expression levels were investigated in plasma cells of healthy donors (HD; n=34), MGUS (n=154), smoldering myeloma (SMM; n=219), MM low risk (LR; n=739), MM high risk (HR; n=129), relapsed MM (RMM; n=74), and primary plasma cell leukemia (pPCL; n=19) samples. The samples from relapse were taken on or after the progression/relapse date but within 30 days after progression/relapse from Total Therapy trials 3, 4, 5 & 6. GEP70 score was used to separate samples into LR and HR groups. We also investigated APOBEC3B expression in different MM molecular subgroups and used logrank statistics with covariate frequency distribution to determine an optimal cut off APOBEC3B expression value. Gene expression was compared in cases with low expression of APOBEC3B (log2<7.5) and high expression of APOBEC3B (log2>10), and an optimal cut-point in APOBEC3B expression was identified with respect to PFS. To explore the role of MAF and the non-canonical NF-ĸB pathway we performed functional studies using a cellular model of MAF downregulation. TRIPZ lentiviral shRNA MAF knockdown in the RPMI8226 cell lines was used to explore MAF-dependent genes. NF-ĸB proteins, p52 and RelB, were investigated in the nuclear fraction by immunoblot analysis.

Results: Expression of APOBEC3B in HD control samples (log2=10.9) was surprisingly higher than in MGUS (log2=9.51), SMM (log2=9.09), and LR (log2=9.40) and was comparable to HR (log2=10.4) and RMM (log2=10.6) groups. Expression levels of APOBEC3B were gradually increased as disease progressed from SMM to pPCL. The high expression of APOBEC3B in HD places plasma cells at risk of APOBEC induced mutagenesis where the regulation of APOBEC3B function is compromised. The correlation between APOBEC3B expression and GEP70 score in MM was 0.37, and there was a significant difference in APOBEC3B expression between GEP70 high and low risk groups (p=0.0003). An optimal cut-point in APOBEC3B expression of log2=10.2 resulted in a significant difference in PFS (median 5.7 yr vs.7.4 yr; p=0.0086) and OS (median 9.1 yr vs. not reached; p<0.0001), between high and low expression. The highest APOBEC3B expression was detected in cases with a t(14;16). We analyzed t(14;16) cases with the APOBEC mutational signature and compared them to t(14;16) cases without the APOBEC signature and found elevated MAF (2-fold) and APOBEC3B (2.7-fold) gene expression in samples with the APOBEC signature. No APOBEC signature was detected in SMM cases, including those with a t(14;16). High APOBEC3B levels in myeloma patients was associated with overexpression of genes related to response to DNA damage and cell cycle control. Significant (p<0.05) increases of NF-κB target genes was seen in high APOBEC3B cases: TNFAIP3 (4.4-fold), NFKB2 (1.7-fold), NFKBIE (1.9-fold), RELB (1.4-fold), NFKBIA (2.0-fold), PLEK (2.5-fold), MALT1 (2.5-fold), WNT10A (2.4-fold). However, in t(14;16) cases there was no significant increase of NF-κB target genes except BIRC3 (2.5-fold) and MALT1 (2.0-fold). MAF downregulation in RPMI8226 cells did not lead to changes in NF-κB target gene expression but MAF-dependent genes were identified, including ETS1, SPP1, RUNX2, HGF, IGFBP2 and IGFBP3. Analysis of nuclear fraction of NF-ĸB proteins did not show significant changes in expression of p52 and RelB in RPMI8226 cells after MAF downregulation.

Conclusions: Increased expression of APOBEC3B is a negative prognostic factor in multiple myeloma. MAF is a major factor regulating expression of APOBEC3B in the t(14;16) subgroup. NF-ĸB pathway activation is most likely involved in upregulation of APOBEC3B in non-t(14;16) subgroups.

Disclosures Davies: TRM Oncology: Honoraria; MMRF: Honoraria; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria; Celgene: Consultancy, Honoraria, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; ASH: Honoraria; Amgen: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Takeda: Consultancy, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Abbvie: Consultancy. Morgan: Bristol-Myers Squibb: Consultancy, Honoraria; Celgene: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Janssen: Research Funding; Takeda: Consultancy, Honoraria.

  • * Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.