Only a subset of cancer patients respond to T-cell checkpoint inhibitors, highlighting the need for alternative immunotherapeutics. We performed CRISPR-Cas9 screens in a leukemia cell line to identify perturbations that enhance natural killer effector functions. Our screens defined critical components of the tumor-immune synapse and highlighted the importance of cancer cell interferon-g signaling in modulating NK activity. Surprisingly, disrupting the ubiquitin ligase substrate adaptor DCAF15 strongly sensitized cancer cells to NK-mediated clearance. DCAF15 disruption induced an inflamed state in leukemic cells, including increased expression of lymphocyte costimulatory molecules. Proteomic and biochemical analysis revealed that cohesin complex members were endogenous client substrates of DCAF15. Genetic disruption of DCAF15 was phenocopied by treatment with indisulam, an anticancer drug that functions through DCAF15 engagement. In AML patients, reduced DCAF15 expression was associated with improved survival. These findings suggest that DCAF15 inhibition may have useful immunomodulatory properties in the treatment of myeloid neoplasms.
- Matthew Pech
- Linda E Fong
- Jacqueline E Villalta
- Leanne JG Chan
- Samir Kharbanda
- Jonathon J O'Brien
- Fiona E McAllister
- Ari J. Firestone
- Calvin H Jan
- Jeffrey Settleman
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Stipan Jonjic, University Rijeka, Croatia
© 2019, Pech et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)
Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)
Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)
Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are a heterogeneous population of mesenchymal cells supporting tumor progression, whose origin remains to be fully elucidated. Osterix (Osx) is a marker of osteogenic differentiation, expressed in skeletal progenitor stem cells and bone-forming osteoblasts. We report Osx expression in CAFs and by using Osx-cre;TdTomato reporter mice we confirm the presence and pro-tumorigenic function of TdTOSX+ cells in extra-skeletal tumors. Surprisingly, only a minority of TdTOSX+ cells expresses fibroblast and osteogenic markers. The majority of TdTOSX+ cells express the hematopoietic marker CD45, have a genetic and phenotypic profile resembling that of tumor infiltrating myeloid and lymphoid populations, but with higher expression of lymphocytic immune suppressive genes. We find Osx transcript and Osx protein expression early during hematopoiesis, in subsets of hematopoietic stem cells and multipotent progenitor populations. Our results indicate that Osx marks distinct tumor promoting CD45- and CD45+ populations and challenge the dogma that Osx is expressed exclusively in cells of mesenchymal origin.
The NuRD complex subunit CHD4 is essential for fusion-positive rhabdomyosarcoma (FP-RMS) survival, but the mechanisms underlying this dependency are not understood. Here, a NuRD-specific CRISPR screen demonstrates that FP-RMS is particularly sensitive to CHD4 amongst the NuRD members. Mechanistically, NuRD complex containing CHD4 localizes to super-enhancers where CHD4 generates a chromatin architecture permissive for the binding of the tumor driver and fusion protein PAX3-FOXO1, allowing downstream transcription of its oncogenic program. Moreover, CHD4 depletion removes HDAC2 from the chromatin, leading to an increase and spread of histone acetylation, and prevents the positioning of RNA Polymerase 2 at promoters impeding transcription initiation. Strikingly, analysis of genome-wide cancer dependency databases identifies CHD4 as a general cancer vulnerability. Our findings describe CHD4, a classically defined repressor, as positive regulator of transcription and super-enhancer accessibility as well as establish this remodeler as an unexpected broad tumor susceptibility and promising drug target for cancer therapy.