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1397 GRK2, an Inhibitor of MALT1-Dependent Oncogenic Signaling, Is Downregulated By microRNA in ABC-DLBCL

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 603. Lymphoid Oncogenesis: Basic: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Research, Fundamental Science
Saturday, December 9, 2023, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

Jing Cheng, PhD1*, Mei Smyers1*, Matt Trotta1*, Neil M Carleton2,3*, Lisa Marie Maurer, MD, PhD1*, Peter Clayton Lucas, MD, PhD3,4* and Linda M McAllister-Lucas, MD, PhD1,4

1Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA
2Medical Scientist Training Program, University of Pittsburgh-Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
3Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA
4Hillman Cancer Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA

Background: The “CBM” complex, composed of the scaffolding protein CARMA1, the adaptor protein BCL10, and the effector protein MALT1, performs multiple pivotal functions as a mediator of antigen receptor-dependent induction of the NF-κB transcription factor and subsequent lymphocyte activation. The effector molecule of the CBM complex, MALT1, regulates downstream signaling via two important functions: first, as a scaffold to recruit and activate components of the canonical NF-κB signaling machinery, and second, as a protease to enzymatically cleave and inactivate multiple substrates including several negative regulators of NF-κB signaling. Deregulated/constitutive activation of MALT1, which can result from gain-of-function mutations in either B cell receptor (BCR) or CARMA1 or from chromosomal translocation involving the MALT1 gene, underlies the pathogenesis of a variety of lymphoid malignancies including activated B-cell type-diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (ABC-DLBCL) and mucosa associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.

We recently discovered that G-protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2) binds to MALT1 and inhibits MALT1 scaffold and proteolytic activities. Further, we found that knockdown of GRK2 in ABC-DLBCL enhances tumor growth in vivo, suggesting that GRK2 may act as a tumor suppressor in MALT1-dependent lymphomas. Interestingly, we found that GRK2 mRNA levels are markedly lower in a subset of DLBCL cases in comparison to normal B cell controls and that lower GRK2 level is associated with reduced survival in ABC-DLBCL patients. We thus sought to investigate how GRK2 expression is regulated in ABC-DLBCL.

Methods and Results: We surveyed 6 published DLBCL sequencing datasets (334 cases total) and identified only one case with a mutation/deletion in the ADRBK1 (GRK2) gene. Thus, we concluded that mutation/deletion could not account for the lower levels of GRK2 in a subset of DLBCL cases. We next investigated other potential mechanisms that could play a role in downregulating GRK2 in ABC-DLBCL, including the impact of microRNA (miRNA). Using DICER-knock-down (KD) and knock-out (KO) HEK 293T cells, we demonstrated that GRK2 protein level significantly increases when miRNA processing is impaired. Next, we performed a bioinformatic analysis which identified two candidate microRNAs, miR-148b and miR-331, whose levels inversely correlate with GRK2 mRNA in ABC-DLBCL patient tumor specimens. These two microRNAs were also identified among the top four candidate hits (miR-125b, miR-148b, miR-125a and miR-331) using mirDIP, a microRNA Data Integration Portal which we used to screen for candidate miRNAs predicted to target the 3’UTR of GRK2. We confirmed direct targeting of GRK2 by three top candidate miRNAs, miR-148b, miR-125a and miR-125b, using a GRK2 3’UTR reporter assay. Notably, we found that expression of these three microRNAs is higher in ABC-DLBCL cells (OCI-Ly3 and TMD8), which demonstrate lower GRK2 mRNA expression in comparison to primary B cells. We showed that overexpression of either miR-125a, miR-125b or miR-148 in OCI-Ly3 and TMD8 cells leads to reduced GRK2 protein level, increased MALT1 scaffolding and proteolytic activities and enhanced ABC-DLBCL cell proliferation. Conversely, anti-miRNA Locked Nucleic Acids (LNA) inhibitors of miR-125a, miR-125b or miR-148 each inhibited ABC-DLBCL cell proliferation and MALT1 activity. Further evaluation of the effect of anti-miRNA LNA inhibitors on tumor progression is under way, using an ABC-DLBCL xenograft animal model.

Conclusions: Together, our data show that specific miRNAs (miR-148b, miR-125a and miR-125b) down-regulate GRK2 expression in ABC-DLBCL, which in turn enhances MALT1 scaffolding and proteolytic activities, leading to increased tumor cell proliferation. Future studies investigating miRNA inhibitors which enhance GRK2 expression and thereby suppress MALT1 activity may inform novel strategies for inhibiting MALT1-dependent lymphomagenesis.

Disclosures: Lucas: Amgen: Current equity holder in publicly-traded company. McAllister-Lucas: Amgen: Current equity holder in publicly-traded company.

*signifies non-member of ASH