ARID1A Regulates Transcription and the Epigenetic Landscape via POLE and DMAP1 while ARID1A Deficiency or Pharmacological Inhibition Sensitizes Germ Cell Tumor Cells to ATR Inhibition

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Apr 7;12(4):905. doi: 10.3390/cancers12040905.


Germ cell tumors (GCTs) are the most common solid malignancies found in young men. Although they generally have high cure rates, metastases, resistance to cisplatin-based therapy, and late toxicities still represent a lethal threat, arguing for the need of new therapeutic options. In a previous study, we identified downregulation of the chromatin-remodeling SWI/SNF complex member ARID1A as a key event in the mode of action of the histone deacetylase inhibitor romidepsin. Additionally, the loss-of-function mutations re-sensitize different tumor types to various drugs, like EZH2-, PARP-, HDAC-, HSP90- or ATR-inhibitors. Thus, ARID1A presents as a promising target for synthetic lethality and combination therapy. In this study, we deciphered the molecular function of ARID1A and screened for the potential of two pharmacological ARID1A inhibitors as a new therapeutic strategy to treat GCTs. By CRISPR/Cas9, we generated ARID1A-deficient GCT cells and demonstrate by mass spectrometry that ARID1A is putatively involved in regulating transcription, DNA repair and the epigenetic landscape via DNA Polymerase POLE and the DNA methyltransferase 1-associated protein DMAP1. Additionally, ARID1A/ARID1A deficiency or pharmacological inhibition increased the efficacy of romidepsin and considerably sensitized GCT cells, including cisplatin-resistant subclones, towards ATR inhibition. Thus, targeting ARID1A in combination with romidepsin and ATR inhibitors presents as a new putative option to treat GCTs.

Keywords: ARID1A; ATR inhibition; CRISPR/Cas9; HDAC inhibition; SWI/SNF-complex; germ cell tumors; mass spectrometry; molecular therapy.