The BCL-2-selective inhibitor venetoclax (ABT-199) binds with high affinity to the BH3-binding groove of BCL-2, thereby competing for binding with the BH3-only protein BIM (Souers et al., 2013). Venetoclax is currently being evaluated in clinical trials for CLL, AML, multiple myeloma and NHL. To facilitate these studies, we developed and validated a 384-well electrochemiluminescent ELISA (MSD, Gaithersburg, MD,USA) that quantifies expression of BCL-2, BCL-XL, and MCL-1protein alone or in complex with BIM. We subsequently quantified expression of BCL-2 and BCL-2:BIM complexes in 16 hematologic tumor cell lines. We found the EC50 of venetoclax in these tumor cell lines to correlate strongly with baseline BCL-2:BIM complex levels. This correlation was superior to the correlation between venetoclax EC50 and absolute BCL-2 expression. We also applied the assay to measure disruption of BCL-2:BIM complexes in vivo. Treatment of the Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL) xenograft model SU-DHL-4 with a BCL-2-selective inhibitor resulted in disruption of tumor BCL-2:BIM complexes that aligned with serum and tumor concentrations of inhibitor. Collectively, these data demonstrate that quantifying BCL-2:BIM complexes offers an accurate means of assessing target engagement by venetoclax and, potentially, predicting its efficacy. The utility of this assay is currently being assessed in clinical trials.

Citation Format: Sha Jin, Paul Tapang, Donald J. Osterling, Wenqing Gao, Daniel H. Albert, Andrew J. Souers, Joel D. Leverson, Darren C. Phillips, Jun Chen. Quantitative assessment of BCL-2:BIM complexes as a pharmacodynamic marker for venetoclax (ABT-199). [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2015 Apr 18-22; Philadelphia, PA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2015;75(15 Suppl):Abstract nr 6. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2015-6