Functional epigenetics approach identifies BRM/SMARCA2 as a critical synthetic lethal target in BRG1-deficient cancers.
ABSTRACT: Defects in epigenetic regulation play a fundamental role in the development of cancer, and epigenetic regulators have recently emerged as promising therapeutic candidates. We therefore set out to systematically interrogate epigenetic cancer dependencies by screening an epigenome-focused deep-coverage design shRNA (DECODER) library across 58 cancer cell lines. This screen identified BRM/SMARCA2, a DNA-dependent ATPase of the mammalian SWI/SNF (mSWI/SNF) chromatin remodeling complex, as being essential for the growth of tumor cells that harbor loss of function mutations in BRG1/SMARCA4. Depletion of BRM in BRG1-deficient cancer cells leads to a cell cycle arrest, induction of senescence, and increased levels of global H3K9me3. We further demonstrate the selective dependency of BRG1-mutant tumors on BRM in vivo. Genetic alterations of the mSWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes are the most frequent among chromatin regulators in cancers, with BRG1/SMARCA4 mutations occurring in ?10-15% of lung adenocarcinomas. Our findings position BRM as an attractive therapeutic target for BRG1 mutated cancers. Because BRG1 and BRM function as mutually exclusive catalytic subunits of the mSWI/SNF complex, we propose that such synthetic lethality may be explained by paralog insufficiency, in which loss of one family member unveils critical dependence on paralogous subunits. This concept of "cancer-selective paralog dependency" may provide a more general strategy for targeting other tumor suppressor lesions/complexes with paralogous subunits.
Project description:BRG1/SMARCA4 and its paralog BRM/SMARCA2 are the ATPase subunits of human SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complexes. These multisubunit assemblies can act as either tumor suppressors or drivers of cancer, and inhibiting both BRG1 and BRM, is emerging as an effective therapeutic strategy in diverse cancers. BRG1 and BRM contain a BRK domain. The function of this domain is unknown, but it is often found in proteins involved in transcription and developmental signaling in higher eukaryotes, in particular in proteins that remodel chromatin. We report the NMR structure of the BRG1 BRK domain. It shows similarity to the glycine-tyrosine-phenylalanine (GYF) domain, an established protein-protein interaction module. Computational peptide-binding-site analysis of the BRK domain identifies a binding site that coincides with a highly conserved groove on the surface of the protein. This sets the scene for experiments to elucidate the role of this domain, and evaluate the potential of targeting it for cancer therapy.
Project description:Skeletal muscle regeneration is mediated by myoblasts that undergo epigenomic changes to establish the gene expression program of differentiated myofibers. mSWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzymes coordinate with lineage-determining transcription factors to establish the epigenome of differentiated myofibers. Bromodomains bind to acetylated lysines on histone N-terminal tails and other proteins. The mutually exclusive ATPases of mSWI/SNF complexes, BRG1 and BRM, contain bromodomains with undefined functional importance in skeletal muscle differentiation. Pharmacological inhibition of mSWI/SNF bromodomain function using the small molecule PFI-3 reduced differentiation in cell culture and in vivo through decreased myogenic gene expression, while increasing cell cycle-related gene expression and the number of cells remaining in the cell cycle. Comparative gene expression analysis with data from myoblasts depleted of BRG1 or BRM showed that bromodomain function was required for a subset of BRG1- and BRM-dependent gene expression. Reduced binding of BRG1 and BRM after PFI-3 treatment showed that the bromodomain is required for stable chromatin binding at target gene promoters to alter gene expression. Our findings demonstrate that mSWI/SNF ATPase bromodomains permit stable binding of the mSWI/SNF ATPases to promoters required for cell cycle exit and establishment of muscle-specific gene expression.
Project description:Advanced prostate cancer initially responds to hormonal treatment, but ultimately becomes resistant and requires more potent therapies. One mechanism of resistance observed in around 10-20% of these patients is lineage plasticity, which manifests in a partial or complete small cell or neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) phenotype. Here, we investigate the role of the mammalian SWI/SNF (mSWI/SNF) chromatin remodeling complex in NEPC. Using large patient datasets, patient-derived organoids and cancer cell lines, we identify mSWI/SNF subunits that are deregulated in NEPC and demonstrate that SMARCA4 (BRG1) overexpression is associated with aggressive disease. We also show that SWI/SNF complexes interact with different lineage-specific factors in NEPC compared to prostate adenocarcinoma. These data point to a role for mSWI/SNF complexes in therapy-related lineage plasticity, which may also be relevant for other solid tumors.
Project description:Mammalian SWI/SNF (mSWI/SNF) ATP-dependent chromatin remodeling complexes are multi-subunit molecular machines that play vital roles in regulating genomic architecture and are frequently disrupted in human cancer and developmental disorders. To date, the modular organization and pathways of assembly of these chromatin regulators remain unknown, presenting a major barrier to structural and functional determination. Here, we elucidate the architecture and assembly pathway across three classes of mSWI/SNF complexes-canonical BRG1/BRM-associated factor (BAF), polybromo-associated BAF (PBAF), and newly defined ncBAF complexes-and define the requirement of each subunit for complex formation and stability. Using affinity purification of endogenous complexes from mammalian and Drosophila cells coupled with cross-linking mass spectrometry (CX-MS) and mutagenesis, we uncover three distinct and evolutionarily conserved modules, their organization, and the temporal incorporation of these modules into each complete mSWI/SNF complex class. Finally, we map human disease-associated mutations within subunits and modules, defining specific topological regions that are affected upon subunit perturbation.
Project description:The SWI/SNF complex is an important regulator of gene expression that functions by interacting with a diverse array of cellular proteins. The catalytic subunits of SWI/SNF, BRG1 and BRM, are frequently lost alone or concomitantly in a range of different cancer types. This loss abrogates SWI/SNF complex function as well as the functions of proteins that are required for SWI/SNF function, such as RB1 and TP53. Yet while both proteins are known to be dependent on SWI/SNF, we found that BRG1, but not BRM, is functionally linked to RB1, such that loss of BRG1 can directly or indirectly inactivate the RB1 pathway. This newly discovered dependence of RB1 on BRG1 is important because it explains why BRG1 loss can blunt the growth-inhibitory effect of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). We also observed that selection for <i>Trp53</i> mutations occurred in Brm-positive tumors but did not occur in Brm-negative tumors. Hence, these data indicate that, during cancer development, Trp53 is functionally dependent on Brm but not Brg1. Our findings show for the first time the key differences in Brm- and Brg1-specific SWI/SNF complexes and help explain why concomitant loss of Brg1 and Brm frequently occurs in cancer, as well as how their loss impacts cancer development.
Project description:RATIONALE:The contractile dysfunction that underlies heart failure involves perturbations in multiple biological processes ranging from metabolism to electrophysiology. Yet the epigenetic mechanisms that are altered in this disease state have not been elucidated. SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complexes are plausible candidates based on mouse knockout studies demonstrating a combined requirement for the BRG1 and BRM catalytic subunits in adult cardiomyocytes. Brg1/Brm double mutants exhibit metabolic and mitochondrial defects and are not viable although their cause of death has not been ascertained. OBJECTIVE:To determine the cause of death of Brg1/Brm double-mutant mice, to test the hypothesis that BRG1 and BRM are required for cardiac contractility, and to identify relevant downstream target genes. METHODS AND RESULTS:A tamoxifen-inducible gene-targeting strategy utilizing ?MHC-Cre-ERT was implemented to delete both SWI/SNF catalytic subunits in adult cardiomyocytes. Brg1/Brm double-mutant mice were monitored by echocardiography and electrocardiography, and they underwent rapidly progressive ventricular dysfunction including conduction defects and arrhythmias that culminated in heart failure and death within 3weeks. Mechanistically, BRG1/BRM repressed c-Myc expression, and enforced expression of a DOX-inducible c-MYC trangene in mouse cardiomyocytes phenocopied the ventricular conduction defects observed in Brg1/Brm double mutants. BRG1/BRM and c-MYC had opposite effects on the expression of cardiac conduction genes, and the directionality was consistent with their respective loss- and gain-of-function phenotypes. To support the clinical relevance of this mechanism, BRG1/BRM occupancy was diminished at the same target genes in human heart failure cases compared to controls, and this correlated with increased c-MYC expression and decreased CX43 and SCN5A expression. CONCLUSION:BRG1/BRM and c-MYC have an antagonistic relationship regulating the expression of cardiac conduction genes that maintain contractility, which is reminiscent of their antagonistic roles as a tumor suppressor and oncogene in cancer.
Project description:Perturbations to mammalian switch/sucrose non-fermentable (mSWI/SNF) chromatin remodeling complexes have been widely implicated as driving events in cancer1. One such perturbation is the dual loss of the SMARCA4 and SMARCA2 ATPase subunits in small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT)2-5, SMARCA4-deficient thoracic sarcomas6 and dedifferentiated endometrial carcinomas7. However, the consequences of dual ATPase subunit loss on mSWI/SNF complex subunit composition, chromatin targeting, DNA accessibility and gene expression remain unknown. Here we identify an ATPase module of subunits that is required for functional specification of the Brahma-related gene-associated factor (BAF) and polybromo-associated BAF (PBAF) mSWI/SNF family subcomplexes. Using SMARCA4/2 ATPase mutant variants, we define the catalytic activity-dependent and catalytic activity-independent contributions of the ATPase module to the targeting of BAF and PBAF complexes on chromatin genome-wide. Finally, by linking distinct mSWI/SNF complex target sites to tumor-suppressive gene expression programs, we clarify the transcriptional consequences of SMARCA4/2 dual loss in SCCOHT.
Project description:SMARCA4/BRG1 and SMARCA2/BRM, the two mutually exclusive catalytic subunits of the BAF complex, display a well-established synthetic lethal relationship in SMARCA4-deficient cancers. Using CRISPR-Cas9 screening, we identify SMARCA4 as a novel dependency in SMARCA2-deficient esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) models, reciprocal to the known synthetic lethal interaction. Restoration of SMARCA2 expression alleviates the dependency on SMARCA4, while engineered loss of SMARCA2 renders ESCC models vulnerable to concomitant depletion of SMARCA4. Dependency on SMARCA4 is linked to its ATPase activity, but not to bromodomain function. We highlight the relevance of SMARCA4 as a drug target in esophageal cancer using an engineered ESCC cell model harboring a SMARCA4 allele amenable to targeted proteolysis and identify SMARCA4-dependent cell models with low or absent SMARCA2 expression from additional tumor types. These findings expand the concept of SMARCA2/SMARCA4 paralog dependency and suggest that pharmacological inhibition of SMARCA4 represents a novel therapeutic opportunity for SMARCA2-deficient cancers.
Project description:Mutations in SWI/SNF genes are amongst the most common across all human cancers, but efficient therapeutic approaches that exploit vulnerabilities caused by SWI/SNF mutations are currently lacking. Here, we show that the SWI/SNF ATPases BRM/SMARCA2 and BRG1/SMARCA4 promote the expression of p62/GTF2H1, a core subunit of the transcription factor IIH (TFIIH) complex. Inactivation of either ATPase subunit downregulates GTF2H1 and therefore compromises TFIIH stability and function in transcription and nucleotide excision repair (NER). We also demonstrate that cells with permanent BRM or BRG1 depletion have the ability to restore GTF2H1 expression. As a consequence, the sensitivity of SWI/SNF-deficient cells to DNA damage induced by UV irradiation and cisplatin treatment depends on GTF2H1 levels. Together, our results expose GTF2H1 as a potential novel predictive marker of platinum drug sensitivity in SWI/SNF-deficient cancer cells.
Project description:Chromatin remodeling complex SWI/SNF plays important roles in many cellular processes including transcription, proliferation, differentiation and DNA repair. In this report, we investigated the role of SWI/SNF catalytic subunits Brg1 and Brm in the cellular response to cisplatin in lung cancer and head/neck cancer cells. Stable knockdown of Brg1 and Brm enhanced cellular sensitivity to cisplatin. Repair kinetics of cisplatin DNA adducts revealed that downregulation of Brg1 and Brm impeded the repair of both intrastrand adducts and interstrand crosslinks (ICLs). Cisplatin ICL-induced DNA double strand break repair was also decreased in Brg1 and Brm depleted cells. Altered checkpoint activation with enhanced apoptosis as well as impaired chromatin relaxation was observed in Brg1 and Brm deficient cells. Downregulation of Brg1 and Brm did not affect the recruitment of DNA damage recognition factor XPC to cisplatin DNA lesions, but affected ERCC1 recruitment, which is involved in the later stages of DNA repair. Based on these results, we propose that SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex modulates cisplatin cytotoxicity by facilitating efficient repair of the cisplatin DNA lesions.