Almost all cases of mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) harbor the t(11:14) chromosomal translocation resulting in overexpression of the cell cycle regulatory protein cyclin D1 (CCND1), which promotes cell proliferation and poor survival. Targeting CCND1 in vitro and clinically, however, is not sufficient to cause tumor cell death, suggesting that additional mechanisms compensate for MCL growth and survival. Unraveling these additional signals will help identify novel targets for rational combination therapies in MCL. Previously, we developed a novel functional genomics tool using an inducible RNA interference (RNAi) library, which can simultaneously assess the role of thousands of genes in cell viability in tumor cell lines. Here we apply the inducible RNAi screen to identify synthetic lethal interactions with CCND1 in MCL. The screen uncovered several components of the DNA damage response as potential new combination targets for anti-CCND1 therapy in mantle cell lymphoma.
The RNAi library was previously constructed using a retroviral vector that inducibly expresses small-hairpin RNA (shRNA). Each shRNA vector contains a unique 60-mer bar code that can hybridize to a corresponding complementary sequence spotted on a custom Agilent oligonucleotide microarray. To perform a synthetic lethal RNAi screen for CCND1, we first established a stable MCL line (UPN-1) that express an inducible CCND1 or control shRNA, transduced these lines with the pooled shRNA library, selected for transduced cells with puromycin, and induced shRNA expression for eight days. Genomic DNA containing bar code sequences was then amplified by PCR, fluorescently labeled, and hybridized onto microarrays. Each screen was repeated four times to enable statistical analysis. Candidate shRNAs obtained from the screen were validated for synergistic killing of MCL cells when combined with CCND1 knockdown. We evaluated genotoxic stress response triggered by DNA damage following CCND1 inactivation in MCL lines by Western blots. DNA damage and repair were assessed by comet assays and immuno-fluorescent staining of DNA repair proteins including phospho-H2AX, RAD51 and 53BP1.
The RNAi screen uncovers multiple shRNAs targeting RIPK1, RIPK3, NEMO, and TAK1, which sensitize MCL cells to CCND1 inhibition. RIPK1, NEMO, and TAK1 have been shown to play an essential role in cells undergoing genotoxic stress by linking DNA damage-induced ATM activation and NF-kB activity. We demonstrated that silencing CCND1 in the MCL cell lines UPN-1, JEKO-1, Z138, and Granta-519 up-regulates RIPK1 mRNA and protein expression, in addition to increased phosphorylation of DNA damage response proteins such as ATM, CHEK1/2 and H2AX. We observed a two-fold increase of DNA damage levels in CCND1 knockdown cells as assessed by comet assays. We also detected cell cycle-independent increase of DNA double strand break (DSB) foci in CCND1 knockdown cells by staining with fluorescently labeled anti-phospho-H2AX antibody.
Knockdown of RIPK1 in MCL lines (UPN-1 and JEKO-1) resulted in apoptotic cell death and these RIPK1 shRNA-transduced cells are hypersensitive to irradiation and DNA damaging agents, indicating RIPK1 plays a protective role against DNA damage-induced apoptosis. The survival role of RIPK1 in MCL cells may correlate with the DNA repair function as demonstrated by the inability of RIPK1 knockdown cells to efficiently resolve etoposide-induced DNA DSB foci over time. Furthermore, we also found that RIPK1 knockdown cells failed to down-regulate the G2/M cell cycle checkpoint protein CDC25B and to up-regulate ATM phosphorylation and Ku86 protein expression in response to genotoxic stress. Blocking these RIPK1-dependent responses could sensitize MCL cells to CCND1 knockdown-induced DNA damage. Similar analyses of the other hits from the RNAi screen are on going.
There are few viable treatment options for mantle cell lymphoma. We have identified the receptor interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1), of the DNA damage response pathway, as a potential therapeutic target whose downregulation sensitizes MCL cells to anti-CCND1 treatment, possibly by promoting insurmountable genotoxic stress. Successful implementation of our functional genetic screens for genes that sensitize MCL cells to anti-CCND1 treatment could define novel targets suitable for effective combination therapies.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.