Introduction Constitutive activation of NOTCH1-wild-type (NT1-WT) signaling is associated with poor outcomes in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and NOTCH1 mutation (c.7541_7542delCT), which potentiates NOTCH1 signaling, worsens the prognosis. However, the specific mechanisms of NOTCH1 deregulation are still poorly understood. Accumulative evidence mentioned endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress/unfolded protein response (UPR) as a key targetable pathway in CLL. In this study, we investigated the impact of NOTCH1 deregulation on CLL cell response to ER stress induction, with the aim of identifying new therapeutic opportunities for CLL.Methods We performed a bioinformatics analysis of NOTCH1-mutated (NT1-M) and NT1-WT CLL to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs) using the rank product test. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), Western blotting, cytosolic Ca2+, and annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) assay were used to detect curcumin ER stress induction effects. A median-effect equation was used for drug combination tests. The experimental mouse model E mu-TCL1 was used to evaluate the impact of ER stress exacerbation by curcumin treatment on the progression of leukemic cells and NOTCH1 signaling.Results and discussion Bioinformatics analysis revealed gene enrichment of the components of the ER stress/UPR pathway in NT1-M compared to those in NT1-WT CLL. Ectopic expression of NOTCH1 mutation upregulated the levels of ER stress response markers in the PGA1 CLL cell line. Primary NT1-M CLL was more sensitive to curcumin as documented by a significant perturbation in Ca2+ homeostasis and higher expression of ER stress/UPR markers compared to NT1-WT cells. It was also accompanied by a significantly higher apoptotic response mediated by C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) expression, caspase 4 cleavage, and downregulation of NOTCH1 signaling in NT1-M CLL cells. Curcumin potentiated the apoptotic effect of venetoclax in NT1-M CLL cells. In E mu-TCL1 leukemic mice, the administration of curcumin activated ER stress in splenic B cells ex vivo and significantly reduced the percentage of CD19(+)/CD5(+) cells infiltrating the spleen, liver, and bone marrow (BM). These cellular effects were associated with reduced NOTCH1 activity in leukemic cells and resulted in prolonged survival of curcumin-treated mice. Overall, our results indicate that ER stress induction in NT1-M CLL might represent a new therapeutic opportunity for these high-risk CLL patients and improve the therapeutic effect of drugs currently used in CLL.
Rompietti, Chiara;Adamo, Francesco Maria;Dorillo, Erica;De Falco, Filomena;Esposito, Angela;Capoccia, Silvia;Geraci, Clelia;Sorcini, Daniele;Stella, Arianna;Arcaleni, Roberta;Tini, Valentina;Rosati, Emanuela;Sportoletti, Paolo
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