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A consensus set of genetic vulnerabilities to ATR inhibition

By Nicole Hustedt, Alejandro Álvarez-Quilón, Andrea McEwan, Jing Yi Yuan, Tiffany Cho, Lisa Koob, Traver Hart, Daniel Durocher

Posted 12 Mar 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/574533 (published DOI: 10.1098/rsob.190156)

The response to DNA replication stress in eukaryotes is under the control of the ataxia-telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) kinase. ATR responds to single-stranded (ss) DNA to stabilize distressed DNA replication forks, modulate DNA replication firing and prevent cells with damaged DNA or incomplete DNA replication from entering into mitosis. Furthermore, inhibitors of ATR are currently in clinical development either as monotherapies or in combination with agents that perturb DNA replication. To gain a genetic view of the cellular pathways requiring ATR kinase function, we mapped genes whose mutation causes hypersensitivity to ATR inhibitors with genome-scale CRISPR/Cas9 screens. We delineate a consensus set of 117 genes enriched in DNA replication, DNA repair and cell cycle regulators that promote survival when ATR kinase activity is suppressed. We validate 14 genes from this set and report genes not previously described to modulate response to ATR inhibitors. In particular we found that the loss of the POLE3/POLE4 proteins, which are DNA polymerase e accessory subunits, results in marked hypersensitivity to ATR inhibition. We anticipate that this 117-gene set will be useful for the identification of genes involved in the regulation of genome integrity, the characterization of new biological processes involving ATR, and may reveal biomarkers of ATR inhibitor response in the clinic.

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