Pluripotent cells have been used to probe developmental pathways that are involved in genetic diseases and oncogenic events. To find new therapies that would target MYB-driven tumors, we developed a pluripotent zebrafish blastomere culture system. We performed a chemical genetic screen and identified retinoic acid agonists as suppressors of c-myb expression. Retinoic acid treatment also decreased c-myb gene expression in human leukemia cells. Translocations that drive overexpression of the oncogenic transcription factor MYB are molecular hallmarks of adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC), a malignant salivary gland tumor with no effective therapy. Retinoic acid agonists inhibited tumor growth in vivo in ACC patient-derived xenograft models and decreased MYB binding at translocated enhancers, thereby potentially diminishing the MYB positive feedback loop driving ACC. Our findings establish the zebrafish pluripotent cell culture system as a method to identify modulators of tumor formation, particularly establishing retinoic acid as a potential new effective therapy for ACC.
© 2018 Mandelbaum et al.