Systematic discovery of mutation-specific synthetic lethals by mining pan-cancer human primary tumor data

Subarna Sinha, Daniel Thomas, Steven Chan, Yang Gao, Diede Brunen, Damoun Torabi, Andreas Reinisch, David Hernandez, Andy Chan, Erinn B. Rankin, Rene Bernards, Ravindra Majeti, David L. Dill

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Two genes are synthetically lethal (SL) when defects in both are lethal to a cell but a single defect is non-lethal. SL partners of cancer mutations are of great interest as pharmacological targets; however, identifying them by cell line-based methods is challenging. Here we develop MiSL (Mining Synthetic Lethals), an algorithm that mines pan-cancer human primary tumour data to identify mutation-specific SL partners for specific cancers. We apply MiSL to 12 different cancers and predict 145,891 SL partners for 3,120 mutations, including known mutation-specific SL partners. Comparisons with functional screens show that MiSL predictions are enriched for SLs in multiple cancers. We extensively validate a SL interaction identified by MiSL between the IDH1 mutation and ACACA in leukaemia using gene targeting and patient-derived xenografts. Furthermore, we apply MiSL to pinpoint genetic biomarkers for drug sensitivity. These results demonstrate that MiSL can accelerate precision oncology by identifying mutation-specific targets and biomarkers.

Article number15580
JournalNature communications
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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