ROBO1 Promotes Homing, Dissemination, and Survival of Multiple Myeloma within the Bone Marrow Microenvironment

Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 Jul;2(4):338-353. doi: 10.1158/2643-3230.bcd-20-0164.


The bone marrow (BM) microenvironment actively promotes multiple myeloma (MM) pathogenesis and therapies targeting both cancer cells and the niche are highly effective. We were interested in identifying novel signaling pathways supporting MM-BM crosstalk. Mutations in the transmembrane receptor Roundabout 1 (ROBO1) were recently identified in MM patients, however their functional consequences are uncertain. Through protein structure-function studies, we discovered that ROBO1 is necessary for MM adhesion to BM stromal and endothelial cells and ROBO1 knock out (KO) compromises BM homing and engraftment in a disseminated mouse model. ROBO1 KO significantly decreases MM proliferation in vitro and intra- and extramedullary tumor growth, in vivo. Mechanistically, ROBO1 C-terminus is cleaved in a ligand-independent fashion and is sufficient to promote MM proliferation. Viceversa, mutants lacking the cytoplasmic domain, including the human-derived G674* truncation, act dominantly negative. Interactomic and RNA sequencing studies suggest ROBO1 may be involved in RNA processing, supporting further studies.

Keywords: bone marrow microenvironment; dissemination; multiple myeloma; pathogenesis; transmembrane receptor.