Inhibition of the Replication Stress Response Is a Synthetic Vulnerability in SCLC That Acts Synergistically in Combination with Cisplatin.


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is generally regarded as very difficult to treat, mostly due to the development of metastases early in the disease and a quick relapse with resistant disease. SCLC patients initially show a good response to treatment with the DNA damaging agents cisplatin and etoposide. This is, however, quickly followed by the development of resistant disease, which urges the development of novel therapies for this type of cancer. In this study, we set out to compile a comprehensive overview of the vulnerabilities of SCLC. A functional genome-wide screen where all individual genes were knocked out was performed to identify novel vulnerabilities of SCLC. By analysis of the knockouts that were lethal to these cancer cells, we identified several processes to be synthetic vulnerabilities in SCLC. We were able to validate the vulnerability to inhibition of the replication stress response machinery by use of Chk1 and ATR inhibitors. Strikingly, SCLC cells were more sensitive to these inhibitors than nontransformed cells. In addition, these inhibitors work synergistically with either etoposide and cisplatin, where the interaction is largest with the latter. ATR inhibition by VE-822 treatment in combination with cisplatin also outperforms the combination of cisplatin with etoposide in vivo Altogether, our study uncovered a critical dependence of SCLC on the replication stress response and urges the validation of ATR inhibitors in combination with cisplatin in a clinical setting.

More about this publication

Molecular cancer therapeutics
  • Volume 18
  • Issue nr. 4
  • Pages 762-770
  • Publication date 01-04-2019

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