Apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like (APOBEC) DNA cytosine deaminases have emerged as potential genomic mutators in various cancers. Multiple myeloma accumulates APOBEC signature mutations as it progresses; however, the mechanisms underlying APOBEC signature acquisition and its consequences remain elusive. In this study, we examined the significance and clinical impact of APOBEC3B (A3B) activity in multiple myeloma. Among APOBECs, only highly expressed A3B was associated with poor prognosis in myeloma patients, independent of other known poor prognostic factors. Quantitative PCR revealed that CD138-positive primary myeloma cells and myeloma cell lines exhibited remarkably high A3B expression levels. Interestingly, lentiviral A3B knockdown prevented the generation of deletion and loss-of-function mutations in exogenous DNA, whereas in control cells, these mutations accumulated with time. A3B knockdown also decreased the basal levels of γ-H2AX foci, suggesting that A3B promotes constitutive DNA double-strand breaks in myeloma cells. Importantly, among control shRNA-transduced cells, we observed the generation of clones that harboured diverse mutations in exogenous genes and several endogenous genes frequently mutated in myeloma, including TP53. Taken together, the results suggest that A3B constitutively mutates the tumour genome beyond the protection of the DNA repair system, which may lead to clonal evolution and genomic instability in myeloma.
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