Multiple Myeloma: Combination Therapy of BET Proteolysis Targeting Chimeric Molecule with CDK9 Inhibitor

Cyclin Dependent Kinase 9 (CDK9) associates with Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal Domain (BET) proteins to promote transcriptional elongation by phosphorylation of serine 2 of RNAP II C-terminal domain. We examined the therapeutic potential of selective CDK9 inhibitors (AZD 4573 and MC180295) against human multiple myeloma cells in vitro. Short-hairpin RNA silencing of CDK9 in Multiple Myeloma (MM) cell lines reduced cell viability compared to control cells showing the dependency of MM cells on CDK9. In order to explore synergy with the CDK9 inhibitor, proteolysis targeting chimeric molecule (PROTAC) ARV 825 was added. This latter drug causes ubiquitination of BET proteins resulting in their rapid and efficient degradation. Combination treatment of MM cells with ARV 825 and AZD 4573 markedly reduced their protein expression of BRD 2, BRD 4, MYC and phosphorylated RNA pol II as compared to each single agent alone. Combination treatment synergistically inhibited multiple myeloma cells both in vitro and in vivo with insignificant weight loss. The combination also resulted in marked increase of apoptotic cells at low dose compared to single agent alone. Taken together, our studies show for the first time that the combination of a BET PROTAC (ARV 825) plus AZD 4573 (CDK9 inhibitor) is effective against MM cells.