E-selectin ligands recognised by HECA452 induce drug resistance in myeloma, which is overcome by the E-selectin antagonist, GMI-1271

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Multiple myeloma (MM) is characterized by the clonal expansion and metastatic spread of malignant plasma cells to multiple sites in the bone marrow (BM). Recently, we implicated the sialyltransferase ST3Gal-6, an enzyme critical to the generation of E-selectin ligands, in MM BM homing and resistance to therapy. Since E-selectin is constitutively expressed in the BM microvasculature, we wished to establish the contribution of E-selectin ligands to MM biology. We report that functional E-selectin ligands are restricted to a minor subpopulation of MM cell lines which, upon expansion, demonstrate specific and robust interaction with recombinant E-selectin in vitro. Moreover, an increase in the mRNA levels of genes involved in the generation of E-selectin ligands was associated with inferior progression-free survival in the CoMMpass study. In vivo, E-selectin ligand-enriched cells induced a more aggressive disease and were completely insensitive to Bortezomib. Importantly, this resistance could be reverted by co-administration of GMI-1271, a specific glycomimetic antagonist of E-selectin. Finally, we report that E-selectin ligand-bearing cells are present in primary MM samples from BM and peripheral blood with a higher proportion seen in relapsed patients. This study provides a rationale for targeting E-selectin receptor/ligand interactions to overcome MM metastasis and chemoresistance.

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