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Cell Res. 2012 Aug;22(8):1227-45. doi: 10.1038/cr.2012.82. Epub 2012 May 22.

Determination of synthetic lethal interactions in KRAS oncogene-dependent cancer cells reveals novel therapeutic targeting strategies.

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Signal Transduction, Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, 44 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LY, UK.


Oncogenic mutations in RAS genes are very common in human cancer, resulting in cells with well-characterized selective advantages, but also less well-understood vulnerabilities. We have carried out a large-scale loss-of-function screen to identify genes that are required by KRAS-transformed colon cancer cells, but not by derivatives lacking this oncogene. Top-scoring genes were then tested in a larger panel of KRAS mutant and wild-type cancer cells. Cancer cells expressing oncogenic KRAS were found to be highly dependent on the transcription factor GATA2 and the DNA replication initiation regulator CDC6. Extending this analysis using a collection of drugs with known targets, we found that cancer cells with mutant KRAS showed selective addiction to proteasome function, as well as synthetic lethality with topoisomerase inhibition. Combination targeting of these functions caused improved killing of KRAS mutant cells relative to wild-type cells. These observations suggest novel targets and new ways of combining existing therapies for optimal effect in RAS mutant cancers, which are traditionally seen as being highly refractory to therapy.

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