Purpose: To investigate the molecular mechanism underlying intrinsic resistance to ABT-199. Experimental Design: Western blots and real-time RT-PCR were used to determine levels of Mcl-1 after ABT-199 treatment alone or in combination with cytarabine or daunorubicin. Immunoprecipitation of Bim and Mcl-1 were used to determine the effect of ABT-199 treatment on their interactions with Bcl-2 family members. Lentiviral shRNA knockdown of Bim and CRISPR knockdown of Mcl-1 were used to confirm their role in resistance to ABT-199. JC-1 assays and flow cytometry were used to determine drug-induced apoptosis. Results: Immunoprecipitation of Bim from ABT-199 treated cell lines and a primary patient sample demonstrated decreased association with Bcl-2, but increased association with Mcl-1 without corresponding change in mitochondrial outer membrane potential. ABT-199 treatment resulted in increased levels of Mcl-1 protein, unchanged or decreased Mcl-1 transcript levels, and increased Mcl-1 protein half-life, suggesting that the association with Bim plays a role in stabilizing Mcl-1 protein. Combining conventional chemotherapeutic agent cytarabine or daunorubicin with ABT-199 resulted in increased DNA damage along with decreased Mcl-1 protein levels, compared to ABT-199 alone, and synergistic induction of cell death in both AML cell lines and primary patient samples obtained from AML patients at diagnosis. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that sequestration of Bim by Mcl-1 is a mechanism of intrinsic ABT-199 resistance and supports the clinical development of ABT-199 in combination with cytarabine or daunorubicin for the treatment of AML.
- Received December 21, 2015.
- Revision received March 14, 2016.
- Accepted April 5, 2016.
- Copyright ©2016, American Association for Cancer Research.