Malignant pleural mesothelioma: Germline variants in DNA repair genes may steer tailored treatment

European Journal of Cancer 2022 January 12 [Link]

Marika Sculco, Marta La Vecchia, Anna Aspesi, Giulia Pinton, Michela G Clavenna, Elisabetta Casalone, Alessandra Allione, Federica Grosso, Roberta Libener, Alberto Muzio, Ottavio Rena, Guido Baietto, Sara Parini, Renzo Boldorini, Daniela Giachino, Mauro Papotti, Giorgio V Scagliotti, Enrica Migliore, Dario Mirabelli, Laura Moro, Corrado Magnani, Daniela Ferrante, Giuseppe Matullo, Irma Dianzani


Introduction: Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a tumour associated with asbestos exposure. Approximately, 10% of patients with MPM carry a germline pathogenic variant (PV), mostly in DNA repair genes, suggesting the occurrence of inherited predispositions.

Aim: This article aimed to 1) search for new predisposing genes and assess the prevalence of PVs in DNA repair genes, by next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis of germline DNA from 113 unselected patients with MPM and 2) evaluate whether these patients could be sensitive to tailored treatments.

Methods: NGS was performed using a custom panel of 107 cancer-predisposing genes. To investigate the response to selected drugs in conditions of DNA repair insufficiency, we created a three-dimensional-MPM cell model that had a defect in ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM), the master regulator of DNA repair.

Results: We identified PVs in approximately 7% of patients with MPM (8/113) and a new PV in BAP1 in a further patient with familial MPM. Most of these PVs were in genes involved or supposedly involved in DNA repair (BRCA1, BRIP1, CHEK2, SLX4, FLCN and BAP1). In vitro studies showed apoptosis induction in ATM-silenced/inhibited MPM spheroids treated with an enhancer of zeste homologue 2 inhibitor (tazemetostat).

Conclusions: Overall these data suggest that patients with MPM and DNA repair insufficiency may benefit from this treatment, which induces synthetic lethality.