The NF-κB signaling pathway plays key roles in inflammation and the pathogenesis of many solid and hematologic malignancies, including multiple myeloma, a malignancy of the plasma cells. While proteasome inhibitors, such as bortezomib, employed in multiple myeloma treatments may inhibit NF-κB signaling pathways, multiple myeloma cells often become drug resistant in part due to non–cell autonomous mechanism(s) from the multiple myeloma tumor microenvironment. We previously found that fragments of, but not full-length, hyaluronan and proteoglycan link protein 1 (HAPLN1), produced by multiple myeloma bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC), activate an atypical bortezomib-resistant NF-κB pathway in multiple myeloma cells. In our current study, we found that multiple myeloma cells promote HAPLN1 expression and matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) activity in cocultured BMSCs and MMP2 activity is higher in BMSCs established from multiple myeloma patients’ BM aspirates relative to normal equivalents. Moreover, MMP2 cleaves HAPLN1 into forms similar in size to those previously observed in patients with multiple myeloma with progressive disease. Both HAPLN1 and MMP2 in BMSCs were required to enhance NF-κB activation and resistance to bortezomib-induced cell death in cocultured multiple myeloma cells. We propose that MMP2-processing of HAPLN1 produces a matrikine that induces NF-κB activation and promotes bortezomib resistance in multiple myeloma cells.
HAPLN1 and MMP2 produced by BMSCs obtained from patients with multiple myeloma promote NF-κB activity and resistance to bortezomib toxicity in multiple myeloma cells, uncovering their potential as biomarkers or therapeutic targets to address bortezomib resistance in patients with multiple myeloma.