SFPQ Depletion Is Synthetically Lethal with BRAF(V600E) in Colorectal Cancer Cells

Colorectal Cancer

Cell Rep. 2020 Sep 22;32(12):108184. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108184.


Oncoproteins such as the BRAFV600E kinase endow cancer cells with malignant properties, but they also create unique vulnerabilities. Targeting of BRAFV600E-driven cytoplasmic signaling networks has proved ineffective, as patients regularly relapse with reactivation of the targeted pathways. We identify the nuclear protein SFPQ to be synthetically lethal with BRAFV600E in a loss-of-function shRNA screen. SFPQ depletion decreases proliferation and specifically induces S-phase arrest and apoptosis in BRAFV600E-driven colorectal and melanoma cells. Mechanistically, SFPQ loss in BRAF-mutant cancer cells triggers the Chk1-dependent replication checkpoint, results in decreased numbers and reduced activities of replication factories, and increases collision between replication and transcription. We find that BRAFV600E-mutant cancer cells and organoids are sensitive to combinations of Chk1 inhibitors and chemically induced replication stress, pointing toward future therapeutic approaches exploiting nuclear vulnerabilities induced by BRAFV600E.