The post-genomic era has seen many advances in our understanding of cancer pathways, yet resistance and tumor heterogeneity necessitate multiple approaches to target even monogenic tumors. Here, we combine phenotypic screening with chemical genetics to identify pre-messenger RNA endonuclease cleavage and polyadenylation specificity factor 3 (CPSF3) as the target of JTE-607, a small molecule with previously unknown target. We show that CPSF3 represents a synthetic lethal node in a subset of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and Ewing’s sarcoma cancer cell lines. Inhibition of CPSF3 by JTE-607 alters expression of known downstream effectors in AML and Ewing’s sarcoma lines, upregulates apoptosis and causes tumor-selective stasis in mouse xenografts. Mechanistically, it prevents the release of newly synthesized pre-mRNAs, resulting in read-through transcription and the formation of DNA-RNA hybrid R-loop structures. This study implicates pre-mRNA processing, and specifically CPSF3, as a druggable target providing an avenue to therapeutic intervention in cancer.
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The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are included in this published article (and its Supplementary Information files). The raw RNA-sequencing reads are available in the NCBI Sequence Read Archive under accession number SRP158650. X-ray structure data have been deposited to the PDB with the code 6M8Q. All other relevant data are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.
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We thank D. Porter, R. Tiedt, J. Baryza and G. Rice for helpful discussions through the course of this research study. This work was supported by the Novartis Research Foundation (J.A.C.), the SNF-NCCR RNA & Disease network (J.A.C.) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) grant no. MC_U105192715 (L.A.P.).
All authors (except otherwise noted) were employees of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research at the time of their involvement in this study and may hold stock in Novartis.
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Supplementary Figures 1–21 and Supplementary Tables 1–4
siRNA plus compound 1 synergy screen gene level activity per compound 1, DMSO or differential.
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Ross, N.T., Lohmann, F., Carbonneau, S. et al. CPSF3-dependent pre-mRNA processing as a druggable node in AML and Ewing’s sarcoma. Nat Chem Biol 16, 50–59 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41589-019-0424-1
Nature Chemical Biology (2020)