B7 homolog 1 (B7-H1)–expressing myeloma cells not only inhibit myeloma-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL), but also confer a proliferative advantage: resistance to antimyeloma chemotherapy. However, it remains unknown whether B7-H1 expressed on myeloma cells induces cellular responses associated with aggressive myeloma behaviors. To address this question, we analyzed the proliferation and drug sensitivity of B7-H1–expressing myeloma cells transfected with B7-H1–specific short-hairpin RNA or treated with programmed cell death (PD)-1-Fc–coupled beads. Knockdown of B7-H1 expression in myeloma cells significantly inhibited cell proliferation and increased apoptosis induced by the chemotherapeutic alkylating agent melphalan, with downregulation of the expression of cell cycle–related genes (CCND3 and CDK6) and antiapoptotic genes (BCL2 and MCL1). B7-H1 molecules thus contributed to myeloma cell-cycle progression and suppression of drug-induced apoptosis. B7-H1–expressing myeloma cells had a higher affinity for PD-1 than for CD80. PD-1-Fc bead–treated myeloma cells also became resistant to apoptosis that was induced by melphalan and the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib. Apoptosis resistance was associated with the PI3K/AKT pathway. Both myeloma cell drug resistance and antiapoptotic responses occurred through the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, initiated from “reverse” stimulation of B7-H1 by PD-1. Therefore, B7-H1 itself may function as an oncogenic protein in myeloma cells. The interaction between B7-H1 on myeloma cells and PD-1 molecules not only inhibits tumor-specific CTLs but also induces drug resistance in myeloma cells through the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway. These observations provide mechanistic insights into potential immunotherapeutic benefits of blocking the B7-H1–PD-1 pathway. Cancer Immunol Res; 4(9); 779–88. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Immunology Research Online (http://cancerimmunolres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received December 10, 2015.
- Revision received June 3, 2016.
- Accepted June 21, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.