Proliferative signals in myeloid malignancies/leukemias are often driven by kinase activating events. Phosphatases often counteract these effects, though some phosphatases are oncogenes as well. To characterize these opposing signaling networks and build a loss of function intervention map, we performed the first phosphatome RNAi screen in conjunction with a kinome RNAi screen in myeloid leukemia cells.
Four myeloid cell lines, TF-1, THP-1, HEL and MDS-L were incubated with siRNA against 206 phosphatases and 711 kinases with 4 different siRNA sequences (4x) per gene. After 96 hours, viability/proliferation was assessed by luminescence with Cell Titer Glo. Tranfection efficacy was determined by the ratio of the median of an universal lethal control vs. all siRNA. Normalization was done calculating the percent of sample median according to % proliferation = [siRNA signal × 100] / [median all siRNA signals]. Hits were defined using the median absolute deviation (MAD) of > 2 standard deviation above or below the individual siRNA signal (Birmingham et al, Nature Methods 2009) for at least 2 of 4 siRNA per gene.
Transfection efficacy was around 70, 95, 95 and 80 percent for TF-1, THP-1, HEL and MDS-L cells respectively. In TF-1, five kinases met hit selection criteria reducing proliferation whereas surprisingly no phosphatase was a hit. In THP-1, five kinases each reduced or increased proliferation respectively and only one phosphatase was a hit altogether increasing proliferation upon siRNA silencing. A different trend was seen in HEL cells: siRNA silencing of 16 kinases decreased and silencing of one kinase increased proliferation. Interestingly, inhibition of six phosphatases reduced proliferation in HEL whereas none increased proliferation. In MDS-L cells, siRNA inhibition of 9 kinases reduced and of 1 kinases increased viability respectively; inhibition of two phosphatases increased and of one decreased viability. The most common universal hit was PLK1 across 3 of 4 cell lines. No phosphatase was found to be a common hit across several lines.
RNAi kinome-phosphatome profiling of 917 phosphatases and kinases reveals distinct signaling patterns among representative myeloid leukemia cell lines. Some cell lines, like HEL, which harbors a Jak2 mutation, are possibly more driven by kinase activating events but also show putative phosphatases as therapeutic targets. Candidate kinases whose siRNA silencing reduces viability/proliferation may uncover synthetic lethal interactions between known mutational and genomic abnormalities. The identified siRNA hits are potential novel targets for drug development. This combined functional genomics approach also highlights the complexity of signaling and that inhibition of some kinases can accelerate growth at least in vitro, e.g. inhibition of PIM3 in THP-1 cells. Phosphatases are an emerging network of cellular regulators with occasional oncogenic potential. A “loss-of-phosphatome/ase” RNAi approach is a fast way to gain new insights into the complex and little researched field.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
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