Priority Research Papers:

Noncanonical SQSTM1/p62-Nrf2 pathway activation mediates proteasome inhibitor resistance in multiple myeloma cells via redox, metabolic and translational reprogramming

Irene Riz, Teresa S. Hawley, Jeffrey W. Marsal and Robert G. Hawley _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:66360-66385. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11960

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Irene Riz1, Teresa S. Hawley2,3, Jeffrey W. Marsal1 and Robert G. Hawley1

1 Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Biology, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

2 Flow Cytometry Core Facility, George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

3 Flow Cytometry Core, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

Correspondence to:

Robert G. Hawley, email:

Keywords: multiple myeloma, carfilzomib, SQSTM1/p62, NFE2L2/Nrf2, translation initiation

Received: June 17, 2016 Accepted: September 03, 2016 Published: September 10, 2016


Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a B-cell malignancy characterized by the accumulation of clonal plasma cells in the bone marrow, with drug resistance being a major cause of therapeutic failure. We established a carfilzomib-resistant derivative of the LP-1 MM cell line (LP-1/Cfz) and found that the transcription factor NF-E2 p45-related factor 2 (Nrf2; gene symbol NFE2L2) contributes to carfilzomib resistance. The mechanism of Nrf2 activation involved enhanced translation of Nrf2 as well as its positive regulator, the autophagy receptor sequestosome 1 (SQSTM1)/p62. The eukaryotic translation initiation factor gene EIF4E3 was among the Nrf2 target genes upregulated in LP-1/Cfz cells, suggesting existence of a positive feedback loop. In line with this, we found that siRNA knockdown of eIF4E3 decreased Nrf2 protein levels. On the other hand, elevated SQSTM1/p62 levels were due at least in part to activation of the PERK-eIF2α pathway. LP-1/Cfz cells had decreased levels of reactive oxygen species as well as elevated levels of fatty acid oxidation and prosurvival autophagy. Genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of the Nrf2-EIF4E3 axis or the PERK-eIF2α pathway, disruption of redox homeostasis or inhibition of fatty acid oxidation or autophagy conferred sensitivity to carfilzomib. Our findings were supported by clinical data where increased EIF4E3 expression was predictive of Nrf2 target gene upregulation in a subgroup of patients with chemoresistant minimal residual disease and relapsed/refractory MM. Thus, our data offer a preclinical rationale for including inhibitors of the SQSTM1/p62-Nrf2 pathway to the treatment regimens for certain advanced stage MM patients.

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