Basal-like breast cancers (BLBC) are characterized by defects in homologous recombination (HR), deficient mitotic checkpoint, and high-proliferation activity. Here, we discover CIP2A as a candidate driver of BLBC. CIP2A was essential for DNA damage-induced initiation of mouse BLBC-like mammary tumors and for survival of HR-defective BLBC cells. CIP2A was dispensable for normal mammary gland development and for unperturbed mitosis, but selectively essential for mitotic progression of DNA damaged cells. A direct interaction between CIP2A and a DNA repair scaffold protein TopBP1 was identified, and CIP2A inhibition resulted in enhanced DNA damage-induced TopBP1 and RAD51 recruitment to chromatin in mammary epithelial cells. In addition to its role in tumor initiation, and survival of BRCA-deficient cells, CIP2A also drove proliferative MYC and E2F1 signaling in basal-like triple-negative breast cancer (BL-TNBC) cells. Clinically, high CIP2A expression was associated with poor patient prognosis in BL-TNBCs but not in other breast cancer subtypes. Small-molecule reactivators of PP2A (SMAP) inhibited CIP2A transcription, phenocopied the CIP2A-deficient DNA damage response (DDR), and inhibited growth of patient-derived BLBC xenograft. In summary, these results demonstrate that CIP2A directly interacts with TopBP1 and coordinates DNA damage-induced mitotic checkpoint and proliferation, thereby driving BLBC initiation and progression. SMAPs could serve as a surrogate therapeutic strategy to inhibit the oncogenic activity of CIP2A in BLBCs. SIGNIFICANCE: These results identify CIP2A as a nongenetic driver and therapeutic target in basal-like breast cancer that regulates DNA damage-induced G2-M checkpoint and proliferative signaling.
©2021 The Authors; Published by the American Association for Cancer Research.