PARP inhibitors (PARPi) have revolutionized the therapeutic landscape of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) treatment with outstanding benefits in regard to progression-free survival, especially in patients either carrying BRCA1/2 mutations or harboring defects in the homologous recombination repair system. Yet, it remains uncertain which PARPi to apply and how to predict responders when platinum sensitivity is unknown. To shed light on the predictive power of genes previously suggested to be associated with PARPi response, we systematically reviewed the literature and identified 79 publications investigating a total of 93 genes. The top candidate genes were further tested using a comprehensive CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis screening in combination with olaparib treatment. Therefore, we generated six constitutive Cas9+ EOC cell lines and profiled 33 genes in a CRISPR-Cas9 cell competition assay using non-essential (AAVS1) and essential (RPA3 and PCNA) genes for cell fitness as negative and positive controls, respectively. We identified only ATM, MUS81, NBN, BRCA2, and RAD51B as predictive markers for olaparib response. As the major survival benefit of PARPi treatment was reported in platinum-sensitive tumors, we next assessed nine top candidate genes in combination with three PARPi and carboplatin. Interestingly, we observed similar dropout rates in a gene and compound independent manner, supporting the strong correlation of cancer cell response to compounds that rely on DNA repair for their effectiveness. In addition, we report on CDK12 as a common vulnerability for EOC cell survival and proliferation without altering the olaparib response, highlighting its potential as a therapeutic target in EOC.
© 2022. The Author(s).