Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains one of the most challenging cancers to treat. Due to the asymptomatic nature of the disease and lack of curative treatment modalities, the 5-y survival rate of PDAC patients is one of the lowest of any cancer type. The recurrent genetic alterations in PDAC are yet to be targeted. Therefore, identification of effective drug combinations is desperately needed. Here, we performed an in vivo CRISPR screen in an orthotopic patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model to identify gene targets whose inhibition creates synergistic tumor growth inhibition with gemcitabine (Gem), a first- or second-line chemotherapeutic agent for PDAC treatment. The approach revealed protein arginine methyltransferase gene 5 (PRMT5) as an effective druggable candidate whose inhibition creates synergistic vulnerability of PDAC cells to Gem. Genetic depletion and pharmacological inhibition indicate that loss of PRMT5 activity synergistically enhances Gem cytotoxicity due to the accumulation of excessive DNA damage. At the molecular level, we show that inhibition of PRMT5 results in RPA depletion and impaired homology-directed DNA repair (HDR) activity. The combination (Gem + PRMT5 inhibition) creates conditional lethality and synergistic
reduction of PDAC tumors in vivo. The findings demonstrate that unbiased genetic screenings combined with a clinically relevant model system is a practical approach in identifying synthetic lethal drug combinations for cancer treatment.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Nov 10 2020|
- CRISPR screening | pancreatic cancer | cancer genomics and epigenomics | synthetic lethality | combinatorial drugs targets
ASJC Scopus subject areas