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Transcriptional Silencing of Confers a Dependency on Fanconi Anemia Proteins in Acute Myeloid Leukemia


Yang ZZhaolin , Wu XSXiaoli S , Wei YYiliang , Polyanskaya SASofya A , Iyer SVShruti V , Jung MMoonjung , Lach FPFrancis P , Adelman EREmmalee R , Klingbeil OOlaf , Milazzo JPJoseph P , Kramer MMelissa , Demerdash OEOsama E , Chang KKenneth , Goodwin SSara , Hodges EEmily , McCombie WRW Richard , Figueroa MEMaria E , Smogorzewska AAgata , Vakoc CRChristopher R . Cancer discovery. 2021 04 23; 11(9). 2300-2315


Hundreds of genes become aberrantly silenced in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with most of these epigenetic changes being of unknown functional consequence. Here, we demonstrate how gene silencing can lead to an acquired dependency on the DNA repair machinery in AML. We make this observation by profiling the essentiality of the ubiquitination machinery in cancer cell lines using domain-focused CRISPR screening, which revealed Fanconi anemia (FA) proteins UBE2T and FANCL as unique dependencies in AML. We demonstrate that these dependencies are due to a synthetic lethal interaction between FA proteins and aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), which function in parallel pathways to counteract the genotoxicity of endogenous aldehydes. We show DNA hypermethylation and silencing of occur in a recurrent manner in human AML, which is sufficient to confer FA pathway dependency. Our study suggests that targeting of the ubiquitination reaction catalyzed by FA proteins can eliminate ALDH2-deficient AML. SIGNIFICANCE: Aberrant gene silencing is an epigenetic hallmark of human cancer, but the functional consequences of this process are largely unknown. In this study, we show how an epigenetic alteration leads to an actionable dependency on a DNA repair pathway through the disabling of genetic redundancy..