Genes & development

A genetic interaction analysis identifies cancer drivers that modify EGFR dependency.

PMID 28167502


A large number of cancer drivers have been identified through tumor sequencing efforts, but how they interact and the degree to which they can substitute for each other have not been systematically explored. To comprehensively investigate how cancer drivers genetically interact, we searched for modifiers of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) dependency by performing CRISPR, shRNA, and expression screens in a non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) model. We elucidated a broad spectrum of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) and oncogenes (OGs) that can genetically modify proliferation and survival of cancer cells when EGFR signaling is altered. These include genes already known to mediate EGFR inhibitor resistance as well as many TSGs not previously connected to EGFR and whose biological functions in tumorigenesis are not well understood. We show that mutation of PBRM1, a subunit of the SWI/SNF complex, attenuates the effects of EGFR inhibition in part by sustaining AKT signaling. We also show that mutation of Capicua (CIC), a transcriptional repressor, suppresses the effects of EGFR inhibition by partially restoring the EGFR-promoted gene expression program, including the sustained expression of Ets transcription factors such as ETV1 Together, our data provide strong support for the hypothesis that many cancer drivers can substitute for each other in certain contexts and broaden our understanding of EGFR regulation.