Targeting BAG-1: A novel strategy to increase drug efficacy in acute myeloid leukemia

Sanja Aveic, Giampietro Viola, Benedetta Accordi, Concetta Micalizzi, Nicola Santoro, Riccardo Masetti, Franco Locatelli, Giuseppe Basso, Martina Pigazzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Overexpression of antiapoptotic proteins occurs frequently in cancer, resulting in defective apoptosis that may contribute to a poor chemosensitivity of tumor cells. B-cell lymphoma (BCL) 2-associated AthanoGene-1 (BAG-1) is a prosurvival chaperone recently found involved in the maintenance of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells survival invitro. Here we reported BAG-1 upregulation in 87 of 99 analyzed AML patients with respect to healthy control samples applying reverse phase protein assay. Silencing of BAG-1 expression confirmed a decreased BCL-2 protein level but, in addition, provoked the increased transcription of GADD34 stress sensor. Furthermore, a dephosphorylation of eIF2α, as well as alteration of expression of IRE-1 and CHOP proteins, were documented, suggesting that a disruption of the endoplasmic reticulum stress/unfolded protein response was provoked by downregulation of BAG-1. A similar phenomenon was triggered after addition of Thioflavin S, which was shown to block BAG-1/BCL-2 interaction and to increase cell death, enforcing a prosurvival role of the BAG-1 protein in AML. Interestingly, synergic cytotoxic effects of doxorubicin, VP16 drugs, and ABT-737 compound were observed when Thioflavin S was coupled with these drugs. Taken together, our results gave further proof that upregulation of BAG-1 plays a critical role in AML and that BAG-1 targeting might be considered for a combined therapeutic strategy with conventional chemotherapy drugs in the treatment of AML patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-190
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Hematology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Hematology
  • Medicine(all)

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