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1586 Adenylate Kinase 2 Is a Selective Multiple Myeloma Cell Dependency That Is Preferentially Essential in NSD2-Overexpressing Cells

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 651. Multiple Myeloma and Plasma Cell Dyscrasias: Basic and Translational: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Fundamental Science, Plasma Cell Disorders, Diseases, Therapies, Lymphoid Malignancies
Saturday, December 11, 2021, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

Amin Sobh, PhD1,2, Charlotte L Kaestner, BS1, Jianping Li, MD1, Alberto Riva, PhD2*, Richard Lynn Bennett, PhD1 and Jonathan D. Licht, MD1

1Department of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
2Cancer and Genetics Research Complex, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Background: Multiple myeloma (MM) is the second most common hematologic malignancy and remains incurable. Advances in MM therapy have come about due to therapies that target vulnerabilities of the plasma cell such as high protein load (proteasome inhibitors; PIs), dependence on specific transcription factors such as IKZF1 and IKZF3 which are degraded by immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs), the susceptibility of B cells to glucocorticoids and the presence of specific B cell markers that can serve as targets for monoclonal antibodies and CAR-T cells. Gene editing screens offer a way to identify novel MM therapeutic targets.

Objectives: The molecular heterogeneity of MM imposes challenges to discovering generalized therapeutic targets. Therefore, identification of selective dependencies associated with a particular recurrent genetic lesion is a promising strategy to personalize therapy. Here, we aim to identify vulnerabilities linked to the chromosomal translocation t(4;14), a recurrent rearrangement in MM characterized by overexpression of the histone methyltransferase NSD2.

Methods: Genome-wide CRISPR-based loss-of-function screens were performed in NSD2-high and low isogenic cells derived from the t(4;14) MM cell line KMS11 to define selective dependencies associated with NSD2 overexpression. High-confidence hits were corroborated by in vitro competitive growth assays where individual candidates are genetically knocked out or suppressed or chemically inhibited. Detailed investigation was performed for selected candidates using various molecular and biochemical assays to elucidate mechanisms by which these genes contribute to MM cell fitness.

Results: A fitness screen in NSD2-high and low isogenic MM cells identified 1118 essential genes which are common between the cell pair. We further revealed 282 genes whose loss is more detrimental to cells overexpressing NSD2 and 139 genes that are preferentially essential when NSD2 levels are low. Pathway analysis of NSD2-high selectively essential genes indicated that these cells are more dependent on mitochondrial processes including oxidative phosphorylation. Although proteasomal degradation is essential for all MM cells, our screens indicated that NSD2-high cells are more dependent on the proteasome, which was validated by increased sensitivity to the PI bortezomib. One of the high-confidence selective NSD2-high hits was the mitochondrial adenine nucleotide regulator adenylate kinase 2 (AK2). Analyzing the dependence of hundreds of human cell lines on AK2 using the cancer dependency map portal (depmap.org/portal/), we found that AK2 is not a common essential gene. The top enriched linages with AK2 dependency included MM with notable representation of t(4;14)-positive cell lines. Analysis of the multiple myeloma research foundation (MMRF)-CoMMPass data demonstrated that MM patients with high NSD2 expression, despite poor prognosis, display enhanced overall survival when AK2 levels are low. In vitro competitive growth assays in NSD2-high and low MM cells confirmed the increased dependence of NSD2-overexpressing cells on AK2. In addition, NSD2-high MM cells displayed elevated sensitivity to AK2 inhibitors. Moreover, AK2 knockdown in t(4;14) MM cell lines increased sensitivity to the PI bortezomib. Mechanistically, we showed that AK2 disruption activates apoptotic unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling in MM cells. Metabolomic profiling in NSD2-high and low MM cells revealed accumulation of purine metabolites and reduction of pyrimidine metabolites upon NSD2 overexpression. Intriguingly, purine supplementation rescued MM cell depletion due to AK2 loss. These observations suggested that MM cells, especially those with NSD2 overexpression, are addicted to elevated purine levels and that lethality of MM cells upon AK2 loss is due to perturbed purine metabolism. How impaired purine metabolism activates UPR signaling is currently under investigation.

Conclusions: Our work indicated that NSD2 overexpression resulting from chromosomal translocation t(4;14), despite its oncogenic role, generates metabolic dependencies in MM cells. Our findings further suggest that inhibition of AK2, a mitochondrial enzyme involved in purine metabolism, can induce UPR-mediated apoptosis in MM cells and could be used in combination with PI therapy to treat MM patients with t(4;14) translocations.

Disclosures: Licht: Epizyme: Research Funding.

*signifies non-member of ASH