Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmaceutical Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Kyung Bo Kim


Over a decade, proteasome inhibitors (PIs), bortezomib, carfilzomib (Cfz) and ixazomib, have contributed to a significant improvement in the overall survival for multiple myeloma (MM) patients. However, the response rate of PI was fairly low, leaving a huge gap in MM patient care. Given this, mechanistic understanding of PI resistance is crucial towards developing new therapeutic strategies for refractory/relapsed MM patients.

In this dissertation work, we found H727 human bronchial carcinoid cells are inherently resistant to Cfz, yet susceptible to other PIs and inhibitors targeting upstream components of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). It indicated H727 cells may serve as a cell line model for de novo Cfz resistance and remains UPS dependent for survival. To examine the potential link between proteasome catalytic subunit composition and cellular response to Cfz, we altered the composition of proteasome catalytic subunits via interferon-γ treatment or siRNA knockdown in H727 cells. Our results showed alteration in composition of proteasome catalytic subunits results in sensitization of H727 cells to Cfz. It supported that proteasome inhibition by alternative PIs may still be a valid therapeutic strategy for patients with relapsed MM after having received treatment with Cfz. With this in mind, we designed and synthesized a small library of epoxyketone-based PIs by structural modifications at the P1′ site. We observed that a Cfz analog, harboring a hydroxyl substituent at its P1′ position was cytotoxic against cancer cell lines with de novo or acquired resistance to Cfz. These results suggested that peptide epoxyketones incorporating P1′-targeting moieties may have the potential to overcome Cfz resistance mechanisms in cells.

The immunoproteasome (IP), an inducible proteasome variant which is harboring distinct catalytic subunits, LMP2, MECL1 and LMP7 of the proteasome typically expressed in cells of hematopoietic origin, plays a role in immune response and is closely linked to inflammatory diseases. It has been reported that the IP is upregulated in reactive glial cells surrounding amyloid β (Aβ) deposits in brains of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and AD animal models.

To investigate whether the IP is involved in the pathogenesis of AD, we examined the impact of IP inhibition on cognitive function in AD mouse models. We observed that YU102, an epoxyketone peptide targeting the IP catalytic subunit LMP2, improved cognitive dysfunction in AD mice without clearance of Aβ deposition or tau aggregation. Our cell line model study also showed a potential mode of action of YU102 which is suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokine production in microglial cells. It suggested that LMP2 contributes to microglia-mediated inflammatory response. These findings supported that LMP2 may offers a valuable therapeutic target for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, expanding the therapeutic potential of the LMP2-targeting strategy.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

NIH R01 CA188354