Immunomodulatory effects of pevonedistat, a NEDD8-activating enzyme inhibitor, in chronic lymphocytic leukemia-derived T cells

Scott Best, Vi Lam, Tingting Liu, Nur Bruss, Adam Kittai, Olga V. Danilova, Susan Murray, Allison Berger, Nathan D. Pennock, Evan F. Lind, Alexey V. Danilov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Novel targeted agents used in therapy of lymphoid malignancies, such as inhibitors of B-cell receptor-associated kinases, are recognized to have complex immune-mediated effects. NEDD8-activating enzyme (NAE) has been identified as a tractable target in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We and others have shown that pevonedistat (TAK-924), a small-molecule inhibitor of NAE, abrogates NF-κB signaling in malignant B cells. However, NF-κB pathway activity is indispensable in immune response, and T-cell function is altered in patients with CLL. Using T cells derived from patients with CLL, we demonstrate that although targeting NAE results in markedly differential expression of NF-κB-regulated genes and downregulation of interleukin (IL)-2 signaling during T-cell activation, T cells evade apoptosis. Meanwhile, NAE inhibition favorably modulates polarization of T cells in vitro, with decreased Treg differentiation and a shift toward TH1 phenotype, accompanied by increased interferon-γ production. These findings were recapitulated in vivo in immunocompetent mouse models. T cells exposed to pevonedistat in washout experiments, informed by its human pharmacokinetic profile, recover NAE activity, and maintain their response to T-cell receptor stimulation and cytotoxic potential. Our data shed light on the potential immune implications of targeting neddylation in CLL and lymphoid malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-168
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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