Genetic screens reveal new targetable vulnerabilities in BAP1-deficient mesothelioma

Cell Reports. Medicine 2023 January 10 [Link]

Gaurav Kumar Pandey, Nick Landman, Hannah K Neikes, Danielle Hulsman, Cor Lieftink, Roderick Beijersbergen, Krishna Kalyan Kolluri, Sam M Janes, Michiel Vermeulen, Jitendra Badhai, Maarten van Lohuizen


More than half of patients with malignant mesothelioma show alterations in the BAP1 tumor-suppressor gene. Being a member of the Polycomb repressive deubiquitinating (PR-DUB) complex, BAP1 loss results in an altered epigenome, which may create new vulnerabilities that remain largely unknown. Here, we performed a CRISPR-Cas9 kinome screen in mesothelioma cells that identified two kinases in the mevalonate/cholesterol biosynthesis pathway. Furthermore, our analysis of chromatin, expression, and genetic perturbation data in mesothelioma cells suggests a dependency on PR complex 2 (PRC2)-mediated silencing. Pharmacological inhibition of PRC2 elevates the expression of cholesterol biosynthesis genes only in BAP1-deficient mesothelioma, thereby sensitizing these cells to the combined targeting of PRC2 and the mevalonate pathway. Finally, by subjecting autochthonous Bap1-deficient mesothelioma mice or xenografts to mevalonate pathway inhibition (zoledronic acid) and PRC2 inhibition (tazemetostat), we demonstrate a potent anti-tumor effect, suggesting a targeted combination therapy for Bap1-deficient mesothelioma.