The del(5q) myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a distinct subtype of MDS, associated with deletion of the ribosomal protein S14 (RPS14) gene that results in macrocytic anemia. This study sought to identify novel targets for the treatment of patients with del(5q) MDS by performing an in vivo drug screen using an rps14-deficient zebrafish model. From this, we identified the secreted gelatinase matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9). MMP9 inhibitors significantly improved the erythroid defect in rps14-deficient zebrafish. Similarly, treatment with MMP9 inhibitors increased the number of colony forming unit-erythroid colonies and the CD71+ erythroid population from RPS14 knockdown human BMCD34+ cells. Importantly, we found that MMP9 expression is upregulated in RPS14-deficient cells by monocyte chemoattractant protein 1. Double knockdown of MMP9 and RPS14 increased the CD71+ population compared with RPS14 single knockdown, suggesting that increased expression of MMP9 contributes to the erythroid defect observed in RPS14-deficient cells. In addition, transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) signaling is activated in RPS14 knockdown cells, and treatment with SB431542, a TGF-β inhibitor, improved the defective erythroid development of RPS14-deficient models. We found that recombinant MMP9 treatment decreases the CD71+ population through increased SMAD2/3 phosphorylation, suggesting that MMP9 directly activates TGF-β signaling in RPS14-deficient cells. Finally, we confirmed that MMP9 inhibitors reduce SMAD2/3 phosphorylation in RPS14-deficient cells to rescue the erythroid defect. In summary, these study results support a novel role for MMP9 in the pathogenesis of del(5q) MDS and the potential for the clinical use of MMP9 inhibitors in the treatment of patients with del(5q) MDS.
© 2019 by The American Society of Hematology.