Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is an incurable B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma characterized by frequent therapeutic relapses. The development of resistance to ibrutinib therapy remains as a major challenge in MCL. Our previous work showed that glutaminolysis is associated with ibrutinib resistance. In this study, we confirmed that glutaminase (GLS), the first enzyme in glutaminolysis, is overexpressed in ibrutinib-resistant MCL cells, and that its expression correlates well with elevated glutamine dependency and glutaminolysis. Furthermore, we discovered that GLS expression correlates with MYC expression and the functioning of the glutamine transporter ASCT2. Depletion of glutamine or GLS significantly reduced cell growth, while GLS overexpression enhanced glutamine dependency and ibrutinib resistance. Consistent with this, GLS inhibition by its specific inhibitor telaglenastat suppressed MCL cell growth both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, telaglenastat showed anti-MCL synergy when combined with ibrutinib or venetoclax in vitro, which was confirmed using an MCL patient-derived xenograft model. Our study provides the first evidence that targeting GLS with telaglenastat, alone or in combination with ibrutinib or venetoclax, is a promising strategy to overcome ibrutinib resistance in MCL.
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