Dependence on glutamine uptake and glutamine addiction characterize myeloma cells: A new attractive target

Marina Bolzoni, M. Chiu, Fabrizio Accardi, Rosanna Vescovini, Irma Airoldi, Paola Storti, Katia Todoerti, Luca Agnelli, Gabriele Missale, R. Andreoli, Massimiliano G. Bianchi, Manfredi Allegri, Amelia Barilli, F. Nicolini, Albertina Cavalli, Federica Costa, Valentina Marchica, D. Toscani, Cristina Mancini, Eugenia MartellaValeria Dall'Asta, G. Donofrio, Franco Aversa, Ovidio Bussolati, Nicola Giuliani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The importance of glutamine (Gln) metabolism in multiple myeloma (MM) cells and its potential role as a therapeutic target are still unknown, although it has been reported that human myeloma cell lines (HMCLs) are highly sensitiveto Gln depletion. In this study, we found that both HMCLs and primary bone marrow (BM) CD138+ cells produced large amounts of ammonium in the presence of Gln. MM patients have lower BM plasma Gln with higher ammonium and glutamate than patients with indolent monoclonal gam-mopathies. Interestingly, HMCLs expressed glutaminase (GLS1) and were sensitivetoits inhibition, whereas they exhibited negligible expression of glutamine synthetase (GS). High GLS1 and low GS expression were also observed in primary CD138+ cells. Gln-free incubation or treatment with the glutaminolytic enzyme L-asparaginase depleted the cell contents of Gln, glutamate, and the anaplerotic substrate 2-oxoglutarate, inhibiting MM cell growth. Consistent with the dependence of MM cells on extracellular Gln, a gene expression profile analysis, on both proprietary and published datasets, showed an increased expression of the Gln transporters SNAT1, ASCT2, and LAT1 by CD138+ cells across the progression of monoclonal gammopathies. Among these transporters, only ASCT2 inhibition in HMCLs caused a marked decrease in Gln uptake and a significant fall in cell growth. Consistently, stable ASCT2 down regulation by alentiviral approach inhibited HMCL growth inv itro and in a murine model. In conclusion, M Mcells strictly depend on extracellular Gln and show features of Gln addiction. Therefore, the inhibition of Gln uptake is a new attractive therapeutic strategy for MM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-679
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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