Collateral Lethality: A new therapeutic strategy in oncology

Trends Cancer. 2015 Nov 1;1(3):161-173. doi: 10.1016/j.trecan.2015.10.002.


Genomic deletion of tumor suppressor genes (TSG) is a rite of passage for virtually all human cancers. The synthetic lethal paradigm has provided a framework for the development of molecular targeted therapeutics that are functionally linked to the loss of specific TSG functions. In the course of genomic events that delete TSGs, a large number of genes with no apparent direct role in tumor promotion also sustain deletion as a result of chromosomal proximity to the target TSG. In this perspective, we review the novel concept of "collateral lethality", which has served to identify cancer-specific therapeutic vulnerabilities resulting from co-deletion of passenger genes neighboring TSG. The large number of collaterally deleted genes, playing diverse functions in cell homeostasis, offers a rich repertoire of pharmacologically targetable vulnerabilities presenting novel opportunities for the development of personalized anti-neoplastic therapies.