Functional genomics screen identifies YAP1 as a key determinant to enhance treatment sensitivity in lung cancer cells

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Abstract

Survival for lung cancer patients remains dismal and is largely attributed to treatment resistance. To identify novel target genes the modulation of which could modify platinum resistance, we performed a high-throughput RNAi screen and identified Yes-associated protein (YAP1), a transcription coactivator and a known oncogene, as a potential actionable candidate. YAP1 ablation significantly improved sensitivities not only to cisplatin but also to ionizing radiation, both of which are DNA-damaging interventions, in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Overall YAP1 was expressed in 75% of NSCLC specimens, whereas nuclear YAP1 which is the active form was present in 45% of 124 resected NSCLC. Interestingly, EGFR-mutated or KRAS-mutated NSCLC were associated with higher nuclear YAP1 staining in comparison to EGFR/KRAS wild-type. Relevantly, YAP1 downregulation improved sensitivity to erlotinib, an EGFR inhibitor. A pharmacological inhibitor of YAP1 signaling, verteporfin also synergized with cisplatin, radiation and erlotinib in NSCLC cells by potentiating cisplatin and radiation-related double-stranded breaks and decreasing expression of YAP1 and EGFR. Taken together, our study is the first to indicate the potential role of YAP1 as a common modulator of resistance mechanisms and a potential novel, actionable target that can improve responses to platinum, radiation and EGFR-targeted therapy in lung cancer.

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Cheng, H., Zhang, Z., Rodriguez-Barrueco, R. R., Borczuk, A., Liu, H., Yu, J., … Halmos, B. (2016). Functional genomics screen identifies YAP1 as a key determinant to enhance treatment sensitivity in lung cancer cells. Oncotarget, 7(20), 28976–28988. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6721

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