Current treatment regimens for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) yield poor 5-year survival, emphasizing the critical need to identify druggable targets essential for PDAC maintenance. We developed an unbiased and in vivo target discovery approach to identify molecular vulnerabilities in low-passage and patient-derived PDAC xenografts or genetically engineered mouse model-derived allografts. Focusing on epigenetic regulators, we identified WDR5, a core member of the COMPASS histone H3 Lys4 (H3K4) MLL (1-4) methyltransferase complex, as a top tumor maintenance hit required across multiple human and mouse tumors. Mechanistically, WDR5 functions to sustain proper execution of DNA replication in PDAC cells, as previously suggested by replication stress studies involving MLL1, and c-Myc, also found to interact with WDR5. We indeed demonstrate that interaction with c-Myc is critical for this function. By showing that ATR inhibition mimicked the effects of WDR5 suppression, these data provide rationale to test ATR and WDR5 inhibitors for activity in this disease.
- Journal Article