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758 RNAi Screening of the Tyrosine Kinome Identifies Therapeutic Targets in Leukemia Patients

Oral and Poster Abstracts
Oral Session: Acute Leukemias – Innovative Approaches to Diagnosis, Prognostication, and Identification of Therapeutic Targets
Tuesday, December 9, 2008: 8:15 AM
Yerba Buena Ballroom Salon 9 (San Francisco Marriott)

Jeffrey W Tyner, PhD1*, Marc Loriaux, MD, PhD1*, Stephanie G Willis1*, Bill Chang, MD, PhD1, Vincent T Bicocca1*, Stephen Oh, MD, PhD2*, Iris H.I.M. Hollink, MD3*, Stefanie Segers3*, Monique L. den Boer3*, C. M Zwaan, MD, PhD3, Jason R. Gotlib2*, Michael W.N. Deininger, MD1 and Brian J. Druker, MD4

1Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute, Portland, OR
2Stanford Cancer Center, Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA
3Erasmus MC/Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, Netherlands
4Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute, Portland, OR

A large percentage of cancer cases present without knowledge of the causative genetic events. Tyrosine kinases are frequently implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer, but identification of specific tyrosine kinases as cancer targets has been a slow process. In the near future, whole-genome sequencing will enable vast amounts of sequence data to be collected, however clinical application of this information will require a detailed understanding of the functional consequences of each sequence change. Here, we present an RNAi-assisted protein target identification (RAPID) assay by which cells from leukemia patients are functionally screened with siRNA to determine tyrosine kinases that constitute amenable targets for therapeutic intervention. These data have led to identification of novel oncogenic anomalies in cancer patients. Combination of the RAPID screen with whole-genome sequencing promises to yield a powerful synthesis of methodologies by which both functional targets and genetic lesions can be rapidly determined. Methods: To detect targets necessary for viability of malignant cells, we screened primary cells from 75 patients with AML, ALL, CMML, and other MPD as well as white blood cells from healthy individuals by electroporating siRNAs individually targeting each member of the tyrosine kinase family. Four days later, we determined the cell viability and tabulated sensitivity of the cells to any individual tyrosine kinase. Where possible, results were confirmed by treating samples with small-molecule inhibitors with activity against the genes identified by the assay. In addition, the mechanism of oncogenesis was investigated for each positive result. Results: We demonstrate that siRNA screening can identify known oncogenic lesions such as K-RasG13D and JAK2V617F in primary cells from leukemia patients. The RAPID screen has also directed us towards a novel insertional mutation in the thrombopoietin receptor, MPL (1886InsGG). Additionally, we have detected FLT3 sensitivity in patients with FLT3-ITD and loss of heterozygosity, although not in FLT3-ITD heterozygous patients. In total, of 75 patients screened, this assay has yielded 25 cases that exhibit sensitivity to one or more tyrosine kinases. The mechanism of oncogenesis and its relation to the gene target has been established in select other samples with genetic abnormalities including evidence of chromosomal rearrangements as well as gene overexpression and mis-spicing events. Conclusions: We demonstrate that RNAi functional screening can determine sensitivity to individual tyrosine kinases in primary samples. Thus, this technique offers the potential to match specific therapies for targeted intervention with individual patients based on a functional assay. Additionally, in many cases, combination of the RAPID screen with whole-genome sequencing will enable efficient discovery of the genetic etiology of cancer.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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