Frequent Upregulation of G9a Promotes RelB-Dependent Proliferation and Survival in Multiple Myeloma

Background: Multiple myeloma is an incurable hematological malignancy characterized by a heterogeneous genetic and epigenetic landscape. Although a number of genetic aberrations associated with myeloma pathogenesis, progression and prognosis have been well characterized, the role of many epigenetic aberrations in multiple myeloma remain elusive. G9a, a histone methyltransferase, has been found to promote disease progression, proliferation and metastasis via diverse mechanisms in several cancers. A role for G9a in multiple myeloma, however, has not been previously explored.

Methods: Expression levels of G9a/EHMT2 of multiple myeloma cell lines and control cells Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs) were analyzed. Correlation of G9a expression and overall survival of multiple myeloma patients were analyzed using patient sample database. To further study the function of G9a in multiple myeloma, G9a depleted multiple myeloma cells were built by lentiviral transduction, of which proliferation, colony formation assays as well as tumorigenesis were measured. RNA-seq of G9a depleted multiple myeloma with controls were performed to explore the downstream mechanism of G9a regulation in multiple myeloma.

Results: G9a is upregulated in a range of multiple myeloma cell lines. G9a expression portends poorer survival outcomes in a cohort of multiple myeloma patients. Depletion of G9a inhibited proliferation and tumorigenesis in multiple myeloma. RelB was significantly downregulated by G9a depletion or small molecule inhibition of G9a/GLP inhibitor UNC0642, inducing transcription of proapoptotic genes Bim and BMF. Rescuing RelB eliminated the inhibition in proliferation and tumorigenesis by G9a depletion.

Conclusions: In this study, we demonstrated that G9a is upregulated in most multiple myeloma cell lines. Furthermore, G9a loss-of-function analysis provided evidence that G9a contributes to multiple myeloma cell survival and proliferation. This study found that G9a interacts with NF-κB pathway as a key regulator of RelB in multiple myeloma and regulates RelB-dependent multiple myeloma survival. G9a therefore is a promising therapeutic target for multiple myeloma.