Selective gene dependencies in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma include the core transcriptional regulatory circuitry.

Durbin AD, Zimmerman MW, Dharia NV, Abraham BJ, Iniguez AB, Weichert-Leahey N, He S, Krill-Burger JM, Root DE, Vazquez F, Tsherniak A, Hahn WC, Golub TR, Young RA, Look AT, Stegmaier K.

Nature Genetics

September 01, 2018

Childhood high-risk neuroblastomas with MYCN gene amplification are difficult to treat effectively1. This has focused attention on tumor-specific gene dependencies that underlie tumorigenesis and thus provide valuable targets for the development of novel therapeutics. Using unbiased genome-scale CRISPR-Cas9 approaches to detect genes involved in tumor cell growth and survival2-6, we identified 147 candidate gene dependencies selective for MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines, compared to over 300 other human cancer cell lines. We then used genome-wide chromatin-immunoprecipitation coupled to high-throughput sequencing analysis to demonstrate that a small number of essential transcription factors-MYCN, HAND2, ISL1, PHOX2B, GATA3, and TBX2-are members of the transcriptional core regulatory circuitry(CRC) that maintains cell state in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma. To disable the CRC, we tested a combination of BRD4 and CDK7 inhibitors, which act synergistically, in vitro and in vivo, with rapid downregulation of CRC transcription factor gene expression. This study defines a set of critical dependency genes in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma that are essential for cell state and survival in this tumor.

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