Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is usually resistant to the current standard-of-care regimens and also to novel agents such as the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib. A better prognosis of leukemic variants of MCL suggests that MCL cells acquire drug resistance in nodal and/or bone marrow microenvironments via interaction with supporting cells. Bortezomib exerts cytotoxic action in MCL cells via stabilization of the pro-apoptotic BCL-2 family protein NOXA. Here we show that autophagic degradation of NOXA is a mechanism of bortezomib resistance in MCL cells in a tumor microenvironment. First, we demonstrated that interaction with bone marrow-derived or nodal stromal cells conferred bortezomib resistance to MCL cells in vitro and in a murine model. Co-culture of MCL cells with stromal cells enhanced bortezomib-induced ubiquitination and subsequent binding of NOXA to the p62 adaptor, which escorted NOXA to the lysosome for autophagic degradation. Finally, we found that not only direct contact with stromal cells but also stroma-derived humoral factors, especially interleukin-6, promoted selective autophagy and NOXA degradation in MCL cells. Targeting protective autophagy, for example, using the lysosome inhibitor chloroquine, might increase the efficacy of bortezomib-containing regimens in MCL.
Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.