Open Access Open Badges Research article

Functional analysis of the involvement of apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 in the resistance to melphalan in multiple myeloma

Jiayin Xie1*, Liang Zhang1, Mengxia Li1, Jia Du1, Liwei Zhou1, Senlin Yang1, Linli Zeng1, Zengpeng Li2, Ge Wang1 and Dong Wang1

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Center, Research Institute of Surgery, Daping Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400042, P.R China

2 Department of Pathology, Research Institute of Surgery, Daping Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400042, P.R China

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:11  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-11

Published: 8 January 2014



Melphalan resistance has been considered one of the major obstacles to improve outcomes in multiple myeloma (MM) therapy; unfortunately, the mechanistic details of this resistance remain unclear. Melphalan is a highly effective alkylating agent which causes many types of DNA lesions, including DNA base alkylation damage that is repaired by base excision repair (BER). We postulated that human apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1 (APE1), an essential BER enzyme, plays a vital role in acquired melphalan resistance. However, because APE1 is a multifunctional protein with redox activity and acetylation modification in addition to its major repair activity, the particular APE1 function that may play a more important role in melphalan resistance is unknown.


Two MM cell lines, RPMI-8226 and U266 were used to measure the difference in APE1 levels in melphalan-resistant and sensitive derivatives. APE1 functional mutants for DNA repair, redox and acetylation were employed to investigate the roles of individual APE1 activities in acquired melphalan resistance.


Our results indicate that APE1 is overexpressed in both MM melphalan-resistant cells. Knocking down APE1 sensitizes the melphalan resistant MM cells to melphalan treatment. The exogenous expression of DNA repair mutant H309N and acetylation mutant K6R/K7R of APE1 failed to restore the melphalan resistance of the APE1 knockdown RPMI-8226 cells. The AP endonuclease activity and multidrug resistance protein 1 (MDR1) regulatory activity may play roles in the melphalan resistance of MM cells.


The present study has identified that the DNA repair functions and the acetylation modification of APE1 are involved in melphalan resistance of MM cells and has also shed light on future therapeutic strategies targeting specific APE1 functions by small molecule inhibitors.

Acquired melphalan resistance; Multiple myeloma; Human apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1; DNA repair; Base excision repair