Oncogenesis 2020 Oct 18;9(10):93. Epub 2020 Oct 18.
Department of Medico-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnology, Sapienza University, Latina, Italy.
Unfolded protein response (UPR) is a conserved adaptive response that tries to restore protein homeostasis after endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Recent studies highlighted the role of UPR in acute leukemias and UPR targeting has been suggested as a therapeutic approach. Aberrant Notch signaling is a common feature of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), as downregulation of Notch activity negatively affects T-ALL cell survival, leading to the employment of Notch inhibitors in T-ALL therapy. Here we demonstrate that Notch3 is able to sustain UPR in T-ALL cells, as Notch3 silencing favored a Bip-dependent IRE1α inactivation under ER stress conditions, leading to increased apoptosis via upregulation of the ER stress cell death mediator CHOP. By using Juglone, a naturally occurring naphthoquinone acting as an anticancer agent, to decrease Notch3 expression and induce ER stress, we observed an increased ER stress-associated apoptosis. Altogether our results suggest that Notch3 inhibition may prevent leukemia cells from engaging a functional UPR needed to compensate the Juglone-mediated ER proteotoxic stress. Notably, in vivo administration of Juglone to human T-ALL xenotransplant models significantly reduced tumor growth, finally fostering the exploitation of Juglone-dependent Notch3 inhibition to perturb the ER stress/UPR signaling in Notch3-dependent T-ALL subsets.