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Genome-wide circular RNA expression patterns reflect resistance to immunomodulatory drugs in multiple myeloma cells

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Immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs), such as lenalidomide and pomalidomide, may induce significant remissions in multiple myeloma (MM) patients, but relapses are frequently observed and the underlying molecular mechanisms for this are not completely understood. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) constitute an emerging class of non-coding RNAs with important roles in cancer. Here, we profiled genome-wide expression patterns of circRNAs in IMiD-sensitive MM cells and their resistant counterparts as well as in IMiD-resistant cells treated with specific epigenetic drugs alone or in combination. We found that genome-wide circRNA expression patterns reflect IMiD sensitivity and ciRS-7 (also known as CDR1as) was the most downregulated circRNA upon acquired resistance. The depletion of ciRS-7 correlated with increased methylation levels of the promoter CpG island of its host gene, LINC00632. Expression of LINC00632 and ciRS-7 was partly restored by treatment with a combination of an EZH2 inhibitor (EPZ-6438) and a DNA methyl transferase inhibitor (5-azacytidine), which also restores the IMiD sensitivity of the cells. However, knockdown of ciRS-7 did not affect IMiD sensitivity and we found that ciRS-7 also becomes epigenetically silenced after prolonged cell culture without drug-exposure. In conclusion, we found that genome-wide circRNA expression patterns reflect IMiD sensitivity in an in vitro model of acquired resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number365
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

    Research areas

  • Circular RNA, Epigenetics, Genome-wide profiling, Immunomodulatory drugs, Multiple myeloma, Non-coding RNA, RNA-sequencing

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