DOT1L inhibition is lethal for multiple myeloma due to perturbation of the endoplasmic reticulum stress pathway

Oncotarget. 2020 Mar 17;11(11):956-968. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.27493.


The histone 3 lysine 79 (H3K79) methyltransferase (HMT) DOT1L is known to play a critical role for growth and survival of MLL-rearranged leukemia. Serendipitous observations during high-throughput drug screens indicated that the use of DOT1L inhibitors might be expandable to multiple myeloma (MM). Through pharmacologic and genetic experiments, we could validate that DOT1L is essential for growth and viability of a subset of MM cell lines, in line with a recent report from another team. In vivo activity against established MM xenografts was observed with a novel DOT1L inhibitor. In order to understand the molecular mechanism of the dependency in MM, we examined gene expression changes upon DOT1L inhibition in sensitive and insensitive cell lines and discovered that genes belonging to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress pathway and protein synthesis machinery were specifically suppressed in sensitive cells. Whole-genome CRISPR screens in the presence or absence of a DOT1L inhibitor revealed that concomitant targeting of the H3K4me3 methyltransferase SETD1B increases the effect of DOT1L inhibition. Our results provide a strong basis for further investigating DOT1L and SETD1B as targets in MM.

Keywords: DOT1L; epigenetics; histone methylation; multiple myeloma; unfolded protein response.