Genome-scale expression studies and comprehensive loss-of-function genetic screens have focused almost exclusively on the highest confidence candidate genes. Here, we describe a strategy for characterizing the lower confidence candidates identified by such approaches. We interrogated 177 genes that we classified as essential for the proliferation of cancer cells exhibiting constitutive β-catenin activity and integrated data for each of the candidates, derived from orthogonal short hairpin RNA (shRNA) knockdown and clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9-mediated gene editing knockout screens, to yield 69 validated genes. We then characterized the relationships between sets of these genes using complementary assays: medium-throughput stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC)-based mass spectrometry, yielding 3,639 protein-protein interactions, and a CRISPR-mediated pairwise double knockout screen, yielding 375 combinations exhibiting greater- or lesser-than-additive phenotypic effects indicating genetic interactions. These studies identify previously unreported regulators of β-catenin, define functional networks required for the survival of β-catenin-active cancers, and provide an experimental strategy that may be applied to define other signaling networks.
Keywords: CRISPR-Cas9; RNAi; genetic interactions; protein-protein interactions; β-catenin.
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