ABSTRACT: In chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), overexpression of antiapoptotic B-cell leukemia/lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) family members contributes to leukemogenesis by interfering with apoptosis; BCL-2 expression also impairs vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-mediated oncolysis of primary CLL cells. In the effort to reverse resistance to VSV-mediated oncolysis, we combined VSV with obatoclax (GX15-070)-a small-molecule BCL-2 inhibitor currently in phase 2 clinical trials-and examined the molecular mechanisms governing the in vitro and in vivo antitumor efficiency of combining the two agents. In combination with VSV, obatoclax synergistically induced cell death in primary CLL samples and reduced tumor growth in severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice-bearing A20 lymphoma tumors. Mechanistically, the combination stimulated the mitochondrial apoptotic pathway, as reflected by caspase-3 and -9 cleavage, cytochrome c release and BAX translocation. Combination treatment triggered the release of BAX from BCL-2 and myeloid cell leukemia-1 (MCL-1) from BAK, whereas VSV infection induced NOXA expression and increased the formation of a novel BAX-NOXA heterodimer. Finally, NOXA was identified as an important inducer of VSV-obatoclax driven apoptosis via knockdown and overexpression of NOXA. These studies offer insight into the synergy between small-molecule BCL-2 inhibitors such as obatoclax and VSV as a combination strategy to overcome apoptosis resistance in CLL.
Molecular Therapy 12/2010; 18(12):2094-103. · 6.87 Impact Factor