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Cancer Discov. 2014 May;4(5):592-605. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-13-0907. Epub 2014 Feb 20.

A functional cancer genomics screen identifies a druggable synthetic lethal interaction between MSH3 and PRKDC.

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1Department of Translational Genomics; 2Institute of Pathology; 3Cologne Excellence Cluster on Cellular Stress Response in Aging-Associated Diseases, University of Cologne; 4Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany; and 5Michael F. Price Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York.


Here, we use a large-scale cell line-based approach to identify cancer cell-specific mutations that are associated with DNA-dependent protein kinase catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) dependence. For this purpose, we profiled the mutational landscape across 1,319 cancer-associated genes of 67 distinct cell lines and identified numerous genes involved in homologous recombination-mediated DNA repair, including BRCA1, BRCA2, ATM, PAXIP, and RAD50, as being associated with non-oncogene addiction to DNA-PKcs. Mutations in the mismatch repair gene MSH3, which have been reported to occur recurrently in numerous human cancer entities, emerged as the most significant predictors of DNA-PKcs addiction. Concordantly, DNA-PKcs inhibition robustly induced apoptosis in MSH3-mutant cell lines in vitro and displayed remarkable single-agent efficacy against MSH3-mutant tumors in vivo. Thus, we here identify a therapeutically actionable synthetic lethal interaction between MSH3 and the non-homologous end joining kinase DNA-PKcs. Our observations recommend DNA-PKcs inhibition as a therapeutic concept for the treatment of human cancers displaying homologous recombination defects.

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