DNA Barcoding Reveals Habitual Clonal Dominance of Myeloma Plasma Cells in the Bone Marrow Microenvironment

Duncan R. Hewett, Kate Vandyke, David M. Lawrence, Natasha Friend, Jacqueline E. Noll, Joel M. Geoghegan, Peter I. Croucher, Andrew Zannettino

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Multiple myeloma (MM) is a hematological malignancy resulting from the uncontrolled proliferation of antibody-producing plasma cells in the bone marrow. At diagnosis, independent plasma cell tumors are found throughout the skeleton. The recirculation of mutant plasma cells from the initial lesion and their recolonization of distant marrow sites are thought to occur by a process similar to solid tumor metastasis. However, the efficiency of this bone marrow homing process and the proportion of disseminated cells that actively divide and contribute to new tumor growth in MM are both unknown. We used the C57BL/KaLwRij mouse model of myeloma, lentiviral-mediated DNA barcoding of 5TGM1 myeloma cells, and next-generation sequencing to investigate the relative efficiency of plasma cell migration to, and growth within, the bone marrow. This approach revealed three major findings: firstly, establishment of metastasis within the bone marrow was extremely inefficient, with approximately 0.01% of circulating myeloma cells becoming resident long term in the bone marrow of each long bone; secondly, the individual cells of each metastasis exhibited marked differences in their proliferative fates, with the majority of final tumor burden within a bone being attributable to the progeny of between 1 and 8 cells; and, thirdly, the proliferative fate of individual clonal plasma cells differed at each bone marrow site in which the cells “landed.” These findings suggest that individual myeloma plasma cells are subjected to vastly different selection pressures within the bone marrow microenvironment, highlighting the importance of niche-driven factors, which determine the disease course and outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)972-981
Number of pages10
JournalNeoplasia (United States)
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Dec 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

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