Richard J. Ford, Lan Pham, Archito Tamayo, Irving Pass, Keyi Niu,
Nicholas Donato. University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center,
Houston, TX.

The non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (NHL) are primarily of B cell lineage
(NHL-B), that are currently treated with chemotherapy. While these
regimens induce remissions in many cases, they are quite toxic, due in
part to lack specificity for NHL-B cells. Our studies have been
evaluating a role for biotherapeutic agents in vitro, in cell lines we
have derived from patients with transformed follicular (DLCL) NHL-B. In
vitro studies indicate that biotherapeutic agents (BTA), such as
retinoids and interferons, are effective agents in inducing cell cycle
arrest in G1 phase of the cell cycle, followed by cell death through
various pathways involving bcl-2/bcl-x/bax modulation, and caspase
activation in the lymphoma cells. In addition to modulating bcl-2/bax,
retinoids such as liposomal ATRA (L-ATRA), also up-regulate the
transforming growth factor beta (TGF-B) pathway (TGF-BR, SMAD2/4
activation, etc.), in NHL-B that leads to both G1 arrest through the
CDKIs p21 and p27 and apoptosis through activation of caspase 3.
Simultaneous treatment of NHL-B cells with increasing doses of L-ATRA
and TGF-B, indicate that there is synergistic growth inhibitory
activity. We have derived three NHL-B cell lines that are refractory to
both the ATRA and TGF-B1 treatment through different mechanisms,
including point mutations in TGF-RII promotor. Interestingly, these cell
lines are also, refractory to IFN-a, that fails to G1 arrest the NHL-B
cells, or induce cell death through caspase 3. Since our NHL-B cell
lines all show constitutive activation the central transcription factor,
NF-kB, as well as cell cycle arrest in response to several BTA, we have
tested the response of our NHL-B cell lines to several proteasome
inhibitors (lactacystin, MG-132, etc.) to determine if the pathways
involved in BTA-mediated growth arrest and apoptosis, could be mediated
through NF-kB, or proteasomal modulation of apoptotic pathways. Our
studies show that proteasomal inhibition by selective blockade, closely
mimics that action of BTAs such as retinoids and IFNs in blocking cell
growth, and in inducing cell death in vitro. All of the proteasome
inhibitors tested, down-regulated constitutively expressed NF-kB in the
NHL-B cells, and simultaneously showed down-regulation of bcl-2, and
up-regulation of bax and caspase 3, similar to that observed with L-ATRA
on the lymphoma cells. Also, the NHL-B cell lines that were refractory
to treatment with the various BTA, also showed a diminished response to
the proteasome inhibitors. These studies suggest that the various BTA
that show activity in mediating cellular growth arrest and cell death in
aggressive NHL-B cells, apparently utilize similar inhibitory pathways,
that interdict mitogenic pathways regulated through NF-kB. The molecular
basis for the constitutive expression of NF-kB is unknown, but afferent
up-stream mitogenic signals from growth factors (autocrine or paracrine)
or other cytokines may provide the growth stimulus that is interdicted
by various BTAs.