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Targeting BMAL1 reverses drug resistance of acute myeloid leukemia cells and promotes ferroptosis through HMGB1-GPX4 signaling pathway.

PURPOSE: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a refractory hematologic malignancy that poses a serious threat to human health. Exploring alternative therapeutic strategies capable of inducing alternative modes of cell death, such as ferroptosis, holds great promise as a viable and effective intervention.

METHODS: We analyzed online database data and collected clinical samples to verify the expression and function of BMAL1 in AML. We conducted experiments on AML cell proliferation, cell cycle, ferroptosis, and chemotherapy resistance by overexpressing/knocking down BMAL1 and using assays such as MDA detection and BODIPY 581/591 C11 staining. We validated the transcriptional regulation of HMGB1 by BMAL1 through ChIP assay, luciferase assay, RNA level detection, and western blotting. Finally, we confirmed the results of our cell experiments at the animal level.

RESULTS: BMAL1 up-regulation is an observed phenomenon in AML patients. Furthermore, there existed a strong correlation between elevated levels of BMAL1 expression and inferior prognosis in individuals with AML. We found that knocking down BMAL1 inhibited AML cell growth by blocking the cell cycle. Conversely, overexpressing BMAL1 promoted AML cell proliferation. Moreover, our research results revealed that BMAL1 inhibited ferroptosis in AML cells through BMAL1-HMGB1-GPX4 pathway. Finally, knocking down BMAL1 can enhance the efficacy of certain first-line cancer therapeutic drugs, including venetoclax, dasatinib, and sorafenib.

CONCLUSION: Our research results suggest that BMAL1 plays a crucial regulatory role in AML cell proliferation, drug resistance, and ferroptosis. BMAL1 could be a potential important therapeutic target for AML.

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