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Geisslinger, Franz; Müller, Martin ORCID: 0000-0003-4513-8671; Chao, Yu-Kai; Grimm, Christian ORCID: 0000-0002-0177-5559; Vollmar, Angelika M.; Bartel, Karin ORCID: 0000-0002-6634-547X (2022): Targeting TPC2 sensitizes acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells to chemotherapeutics by impairing lysosomal function. Cell Death & Disease, 13 (8): 668. ISSN 2041-4889

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Despite novel therapy regimens and extensive research, chemoresistance remains a challenge in leukemia treatment. Of note, recent studies revealed lysosomes as regulators of cell death and chemotherapy response, suggesting this organelle is a novel target for chemosensitization. Interestingly, drug-resistant VCR-R CEM acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells have an increased expression of the lysosomal cation channel Two-Pore-Channel 2 (TPC2) compared to drug-naïve CCRF-CEM ALL cells. Concurrently, knockout (KO) of TPC2 sensitized drug-resistant VCR-R CEM cells to treatment with cytostatics. The chemosensitizing effect could be confirmed in several cell lines as well as in heterogeneous, patient-derived xenograft ALL cells, using the pharmacological TPC2 inhibitors naringenin and tetrandrine. We reveal that a dual mechanism of action mediates chemo sensitization by loss of lysosomal TPC2 function. First, because of increased lysosomal pH, lysosomal drug sequestration is impaired, leading to an increased nuclear accumulation of doxorubicin and hence increased DNA damage. Second, lysosomes of TPC2 KO cells are more prone to lysosomal damage as a result of morphological changes and dysregulation of proteins influencing lysosomal stability. This leads to induction of lysosomal cell death (LCD), evident by increased cathepsin B levels in the cytosol, truncation of pro-apoptotic Bid, as well as the reversibility of cell death by co-treatment with the cathepsin B inhibitor CA-074Me in TPC2 KO cells. In summary, this study establishes TPC2 as a novel, promising, druggable target for combination therapy approaches in ALL to overcome chemoresistance, which could be exploited in the clinic in the future. Additionally, it unravels LCD signaling as an important death-inducing component upon loss of TPC2 function.

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