Bortezomib induces anti-multiple myeloma immune response mediated by cGAS/STING pathway activation

Blood Cancer Discov. 2021 Sep;2(5):468-483. doi: 10.1158/2643-3230.BCD-21-0047. Epub 2021 Apr 23.


Proteasome inhibitor bortezomib induces apoptosis in multiple myeloma (MM) cells, and has transformed patient outcome. Using in vitro as well as in vivo immunodeficient and immunocompetent murine MM models, we here show that bortezomib also triggers immunogenic cell death (ICD) characterized by exposure of calreticulin on dying MM cells, phagocytosis of tumor cells by dendritic cells, and induction of MM specific immunity. We identify a bortezomib-triggered specific ICD-gene signature associated with better outcome in two independent MM patient cohorts. Importantly, bortezomib stimulates MM cells immunogenicity via activation of cGAS/STING pathway and production of type-I interferons; and STING agonists significantly potentiate bortezomib-induced ICD. Our studies therefore delineate mechanisms whereby bortezomib exerts immunotherapeutic activity, and provide the framework for clinical trials of STING agonists with bortezomib to induce potent tumor-specific immunity and improve patient outcome in MM.

Keywords: STING; bortezomib; immunogenic cell death (ICD); immunotherapy; multiple myeloma.