Background: The majority of BRCA1-mutant breast cancers are characterized by a triple-negative phenotype and a basal-like molecular subtype, associated with aggressive clinical behavior. Current treatment options are limited, highlighting the need for the development of novel targeted therapies for this tumor subtype.
Methods: Our group previously showed that EZH2 is functionally relevant in BRCA1-deficient breast tumors and blocking EZH2 enzymatic activity could be a potent treatment strategy. To validate the role of EZH2 as a therapeutic target and to identify new synergistic drug combinations, we performed a high-throughput drug combination screen in various cell lines derived from BRCA1-deficient and -proficient mouse mammary tumors.
Results: We identified the combined inhibition of EZH2 and the proximal DNA damage response kinase ATM as a novel synthetic lethality-based therapy for the treatment of BRCA1-deficient breast tumors. We show that the combined treatment with the EZH2 inhibitor GSK126 and the ATM inhibitor AZD1390 led to reduced colony formation, increased genotoxic stress, and apoptosis-mediated cell death in BRCA1-deficient mammary tumor cells in vitro. These findings were corroborated by in vivo experiments showing that simultaneous inhibition of EZH2 and ATM significantly increased anti-tumor activity in mice bearing BRCA1-deficient mammary tumors.
Conclusion: Taken together, we identified a synthetic lethal interaction between EZH2 and ATM and propose this synergistic interaction as a novel molecular combination for the treatment of BRCA1-mutant breast cancer.
Keywords: BRCA1 mutation; Breast cancer; EZH2; Synthetic lethality.
© 2022. The Author(s).