Reprogramming normal human epithelial tissues to a common, lethal neuroendocrine cancer lineage

Authors: Jung Wook Park, John K. Lee, Katherine M. Sheu, Liang Wang, Nikolas G. Balanis, Kim Nguyen, Bryan A. Smith, Chen Cheng, Brandon L. Tsai, Donghui Cheng, Jiaoti Huang, Siavash K. Kurdistani, Thomas G. Graeber, Owen N. Witte


The use of potent therapies inhibiting critical oncogenic pathways active in epithelial cancers has led to multiple resistance mechanisms, including the development of highly aggressive, small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (SCNC). SCNC patients have a dismal prognosis due in part to a limited understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving this malignancy and the lack of effective treatments. Here, we demonstrate that a common set of defined oncogenic drivers reproducibly reprograms normal human prostate and lung epithelial cells to small cell prostate cancer (SCPC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), respectively. We identify shared active transcription factor binding regions in the reprogrammed prostate and lung SCNCs by integrative analyses of epigenetic and transcriptional landscapes. These results suggest that neuroendocrine cancers arising from distinct epithelial tissues may share common vulnerabilities that could be exploited for the development of drugs targeting SCNCs.

Source: Science, 2018; 362 (6410): 91