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Accession IconGSE79641

Gene expression signature baesd screening identifies ribonucleotide reductase as a candidate therapeutic target in Ewing sarcoma

Organism Icon Homo sapiens
Sample Icon 32 Downloadable Samples
Technology Badge IconIllumina HumanHT-12 V4.0 expression beadchip

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There is a critical need in cancer therapeutics to identify targeted therapies that will improve outcomes and decrease toxicities compared to conventional, cytotoxic chemotherapy. Ewing sarcoma is a highly aggressive bone and soft tissue cancer that is caused by the EWS-FLI1 fusion protein. Although EWS-FLI1 is specific for cancer cells, and required for tumorigenesis, directly targeting this transcription factor has proven challenging. Consequently, targeting unique dependencies or key downstream mediators of EWS-FLI1 represent important alternative strategies. We used gene expression data derived from a genetically defined model of Ewing sarcoma to interrogate the Connectivity Map and identify a class of drugs, iron chelators, that downregulate a significant number of EWS-FLI1 target genes. We then identified ribonucleotide reductase M2 (RRM2), the iron-dependent subunit of ribonucleotide reductase (RNR), as one mediator of iron chelator toxicity in Ewing sarcoma cells. Inhibition of RNR in Ewing sarcoma cells led to apoptosis and cell death in vitro and attenuated tumor growth in vivo in a xenograft model. Additionally, we discovered that the sensitivity of Ewing sarcoma cells to inhibition or suppression of RNR is mediated, in part, by high levels of SLFN11, a protein that sensitizes cells to DNA damage. This work demonstrates a unique dependency of Ewing sarcoma cells on RNR and supports further exploration of clinically used inhibitors of RNR as a therapeutic approach in treating this cancer.
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