SMARCA4 deficient tumours are vulnerable to KDM6A/UTX and KDM6B/JMJD3 blockade

Romero, OA; Vilarrubi, A; Alburquerque-Bejar, JJ; Gomez, A; Andrades, A; Trastulli, D; Pros, E; Setien, F; Verdura, S; Farre, L; Martin-Tejera, JF; Llabata, P; Oaknin, A; Saigi, M; Piulats, JM; Matias-Guiu, X; Medina, PP; Vidal, A; Villanueva, A; Sanchez-Cespedes, M


Despite the genetic inactivation of SMARCA4, a core component of the SWI/SNF-complex commonly found in cancer, there are no therapies that effectively target SMARCA4-deficient tumours. Here, we show that, unlike the cells with activated MYC oncogene, cells with SMARCA4 inactivation are refractory to the histone deacetylase inhibitor, SAHA, leading to the aberrant accumulation of H3K27me3. SMARCA4-mutant cells also show an impaired transactivation and significantly reduced levels of the histone demethylases KDM6A/UTX and KDM6B/JMJD3, and a strong dependency on these histone demethylases, so that its inhibition compromises cell viability. Administering the KDM6 inhibitor GSK-J4 to mice orthotopically implanted with SMARCA4-mutant lung cancer cells or primary small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcaemic type (SCCOHT), had strong anti-tumour effects. In this work we highlight the vulnerability of KDM6 inhibitors as a characteristic that could be exploited for treating SMARCA4-mutant cancer patients. SMARCA4 is commonly inactivated in lung and ovarian cancers. Here the authors show that SMARCA4-deficient tumours have significantly reduced levels of the histone demethylases KDM6s and a strong dependency on these demethylases for tumour growth, so that they are vulnerable to KDM6s inhibition.

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