Targeting glutamine dependence through GLS1 inhibition suppresses ARID1A-inactivated clear cell ovarian carcinoma

Nat Cancer. 2021 Feb;2(2):189-200. doi: 10.1038/s43018-020-00160-x. Epub 2021 Jan 11.


Alterations in components of the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex occur in ~20% of all human cancers. For example, ARID1A is mutated in up to 62% of clear cell ovarian carcinoma (OCCC), a disease currently lacking effective therapies. Here we show that ARID1A mutation creates a dependence on glutamine metabolism. SWI/SNF represses glutaminase (GLS1) and ARID1A inactivation upregulates GLS1. ARID1A inactivation increases glutamine utilization and metabolism through the tricarboxylic acid cycle to support aspartate synthesis. Indeed, glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 suppresses the growth of ARID1A mutant, but not wildtype, OCCCs in both orthotopic and patient-derived xenografts. In addition, glutaminase inhibitor CB-839 synergizes with immune checkpoint blockade anti-PDL1 antibody in a genetic OCCC mouse model driven by conditional Arid1a inactivation. Our data indicate that pharmacological inhibition of glutaminase alone or in combination with immune checkpoint blockade represents an effective therapeutic strategy for cancers involving alterations in the SWI/SNF complex such as ARID1A mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Clear Cell* / drug therapy
  • Animals
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Female
  • Glutaminase / genetics
  • Glutamine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Mice
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • ARID1A protein, human
  • Arid1a protein, mouse
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Glutamine
  • GLS1 protein, mouse
  • Glutaminase