Combination of EZH2 and ATM inhibition in BAP1-deficient mesothelioma

British Journal of Cancer 2024 March 22 [Link]

Nick Landman, Danielle Hulsman, Jitendra Badhai, Jawahar Kopparam, Julian Puppe, Gaurav Kumar Pandey, Maarten van Lohuizen


Background: More than half of mesothelioma tumours show alterations in the tumour suppressor gene BAP1. BAP1-deficient mesothelioma is shown to be sensitive to EZH2 inhibition in preclinical settings but only showed modest efficacy in clinical trial. Adding a second inhibitor could potentially elevate EZH2i treatment efficacy while preventing acquired resistance at the same time.

Methods: A focused drug synergy screen consisting of 20 drugs was performed by combining EZH2 inhibition with a panel of anti-cancer compounds in mesothelioma cell lines. The compounds used are under preclinical investigation or already used in the clinic. The synergistic potential of the combinations was assessed by using the Bliss model. To validate our findings, in vivo xenograft experiments were performed.

Results: Combining EZH2i with ATMi was found to have synergistic potential against BAP1-deficient mesothelioma in our drug screen, which was validated in clonogenicity assays. Tumour growth inhibition potential was significantly increased in BAP1-deficient xenografts. In addition, we observe lower ATM levels upon depletion of BAP1 and hypothesise that this might be mediated by E2F1.

Conclusions: We demonstrated the efficacy of the combination of ATM and EZH2 inhibition against BAP1-deficient mesothelioma in preclinical models, indicating the potential of this combination as a novel treatment modality using BAP1 as a biomarker.