Blood 2009 Feb 5;113(9):1982-91. Epub 2008 Dec 5.
Cancer Immunology Program, The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Trescowthick Research Laboratories, East Melbourne, Australia.
The apoptotic and therapeutic activities of the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) vorinostat are blocked by overexpression of Bcl-2 or Bcl-X(L). Herein, we used the small molecule inhibitor ABT-737 to restore sensitivity of Emu-myc lymphomas overexpressing Bcl-2 or Bcl-X(L) to vorinostat and valproic acid (VPA). Combining low-dose ABT-737 with vorinostat or VPA resulted in synergistic apoptosis of these cells. ABT-737 was ineffective against Emu-myc/Mcl-1 and Emu-myc/A1 cells either as a single agent or in combination with HDACi. However, in contrast to the reported binding specificity data, Emu-myc/Bcl-w lymphomas were insensitive to ABT-737 used alone or in combination with HDACi, indicating that the regulatory activity of ABT-737 is restricted to Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L). Emu-myc lymphomas that expressed Bcl-2 throughout the tumorigenesis process were especially sensitive to ABT-737, while those forced to overexpress Mcl-1 were not. This supports the notion that tumor cells "addicted" to ABT-737 target proteins (ie, Bcl-2 or Bcl-X(L)) are likely to be the most sensitive target cell population. Our studies provide important preclinical data on the binding specificity of ABT-737 and its usefulness against primary hematologic malignancies when used as a single agent and in combination with HDACi.