Haematologica. 2023 Nov 16. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2023.283787. Online ahead of print.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignancy of plasma cells whose antibody secretion creates proteotoxic stress relieved by the N-end rule pathway, a proteolytic system that degrades Narginylated proteins in the proteasome. When the proteasome is inhibited, protein cargo is alternatively targeted for autophagic degradation by binding to the ZZ-domain of p62/sequestosome-1. Here, we demonstrate that XRK3F2, a selective ligand for the ZZ-domain, dramatically improved two major responses to the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib by increasing: 1) killing of human MM cells by stimulating both bortezomib mediated apoptosis and necroptosis, a process regulated by p62; and 2) preservation of bone mass by stimulating osteoblasts differentiation and inhibiting osteoclastic bone destruction. Co-administration of bortezomib and XRK3F2 inhibited both branches of the bimodal N-end rule pathway exhibited synergistic anti-MM effects on MM cell lines and CD138+ cells from MM patients, and prevented stromal-mediated MM cell survival. In mice with established human MM, coadministration of bortezomib and XRK3F2 decreased tumor burden and prevented the progression of MM-induced osteolytic disease by inducing new bone formation more effectively than either single agent alone. The results suggest that p62-ZZ ligands enhance the anti-MM efficacy of proteasome inhibitors and can reduce MM morbidity and mortality by improving bone health.