Oncoproteins such as the BRAFV600E kinase endow cancer cells with malignant properties, but they also create unique vulnerabilities. Targeting of BRAFV600E-driven cytoplasmic signaling networks has proved ineffective, as patients regularly relapse with reactivation of the targeted pathways. We identify the nuclear protein SFPQ to be synthetically lethal with BRAFV600E in a loss-of-function shRNA screen. SFPQ depletion decreases proliferation and specifically induces S-phase arrest and apoptosis in BRAFV600E-driven colorectal and melanoma cells. Mechanistically, SFPQ loss in BRAF-mutant cancer cells triggers the Chk1-dependent replication checkpoint, results in decreased numbers and reduced activities of replication factories, and increases collision between replication and transcription. We find that BRAFV600E-mutant cancer cells and organoids are sensitive to combinations of Chk1 inhibitors and chemically induced replication stress, pointing toward future therapeutic approaches exploiting nuclear vulnerabilities induced by BRAFV600E.
Keywords: Chk1; DNA damage; MAPK signaling; R loops; cell death; organoids; replication stress; synthetic lethality; xenograft.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.