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.
- Beat W Schäfer
- Beat W Schäfer
- Beat W Schäfer
- Fabian Frommelt
- Matthias Gstaiger
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Xiaobing Shi, Van Andel Institute, United States
This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.
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As part of the Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology, we published a Registered Report (Phelps et al., 2016) that described how we intended to replicate selected experiments from the paper ‘Coding-independent regulation of the tumor suppressor PTEN by competing endogenous mRNAs’ (Tay et al., 2011). Here, we report the results. We found depletion of putative PTEN competing endogenous mRNAs (ceRNAs) in DU145 cells did not impact PTEN 3’UTR regulation using a reporter, while the original study reported decreased activity when SERINC1, VAPA, and CNOT6L were depleted (Figure 3C; Tay et al., 2011). Using the same reporter, we found decreased activity when ceRNA 3’UTRs were overexpressed, while the original study reported increased activity (Figure 3D; Tay et al., 2011). In HCT116 cells, ceRNA depletion resulted in decreased PTEN protein levels, a result similar to the findings reported in the original study (Figure 3G,H; Tay et al., 2011); however, while the original study reported an attenuated ceRNA effect in microRNA deficient (DicerEx5) HCT116 cells, we observed increased PTEN protein levels. Further, we found depletion of the ceRNAs VAPA or CNOT6L did not statistically impact DU145, wild-type HCT116, or DicerEx5 HCT116 cell proliferation. The original study reported increased DU145 and wild-type HCT116 cell proliferation when these ceRNAs were depleted, which was attenuated in the DicerEx5 HCT116 cells (Figure 5B; Tay et al., 2011). Differences between the original study and this replication attempt, such as variance between biological repeats, are factors that might have influenced the results. Finally, we report meta-analyses for each result.
Cancer testis antigens (CTAs) are proteins whose expression is normally restricted to the testis but anomalously activated in human cancer. In sperm, a number of CTAs support energy generation, however, whether they contribute to tumor metabolism is not understood. We describe human COX6B2, a component of cytochrome c oxidase (complex IV). COX6B2 is expressed in human lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) and expression correlates with reduced survival time. COX6B2, but not its somatic isoform COX6B1, enhances activity of complex IV, increasing oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and NAD+ generation. Consequently, COX6B2-expressing cancer cells display a proliferative advantage, particularly in low oxygen. Conversely, depletion of COX6B2 attenuates OXPHOS and collapses mitochondrial membrane potential leading to cell death or senescence. COX6B2 is both necessary and sufficient for growth of human tumor xenografts in mice. Our findings reveal a previously unappreciated, tumor-specific metabolic pathway hijacked from one of the most ATP-intensive processes in the animal kingdom: sperm motility.