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Novel pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) benzofused hybrid molecules inhibit NF-κB activity and synergise with bortezomib and ibrutinib in hematological cancers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Thomas Lewis, David B. Corcoran, David E. Thurston, Peter J. Giles, Kevin Ashelford, Elizabeth J. Walsby, Christopher D. Fegan, Andrea G.S. Pepper, Khondaker Miraz Rahman, Chris Pepper

Original languageEnglish
JournalHaematologica
Early online date7 May 2020
DOIs
Accepted/In press12 Mar 2020
E-pub ahead of print7 May 2020

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Abstract

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and multiple myeloma (MM) are incurable hematological malignancies that are pathologically linked with aberrant NF-κB activation. In this study, we identified a group of novel C8-linked benzofused Pyrrolo[2,1-c][1,4]benzodiazepines (PBD) monomeric hybrids capable of sequence-selective inhibition of NF-κB with low nanomolar LD50 values in CLL (n=46) and MM cell lines (n=5). The lead compound, DC-1-192, significantly inhibited NF-κB DNA binding after just 4h exposure and demonstrating inhibitory effects on both canonical and non-canonical NF-κB subunits. In primary CLL cells, sensitivity to DC-1-192 was inversely correlated with RelA subunit expression (r2=0.2) and samples with BIRC3 or NOTCH1 mutations showed increased sensitivity (P=0.001). RNA-sequencing and gene set enrichment analysis confirmed the over-representation of NF-κB regulated genes in the down-regulated gene list. Furthermore, In vivo efficacy studies in NOD/SCID mice, using a systemic RPMI 8226 human multiple myeloma xenograft model, showed that DC-1-192 significantly prolonged survival (P=0.017). In addition, DC1-192 showed synergy with bortezomib and ibrutinib; synergy with ibrutinib was enhanced when CLL cells were co-cultured on CD40L-expressing fibroblasts in order to mimic the cytoprotective lymph node microenvironment (P = 0.01). Given that NF-κB plays a role in both bortezomib and ibrutinib resistance mechanisms, these data provide a strong rationale for the use of DC-1-192 in the treatment of NF-κB-driven cancers, particularly in the context of relapsed/refractory disease.

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