RNAi screens identify CHD4 as an essential gene in breast cancer growth

Carolina D'Alesio, Simona Punzi, Angelo Cicalese, Lorenzo Fornasari, Laura Furia, Laura Riva, Alessandro Carugo, Giuseppe Curigliano, Carmen Criscitiello, Giancarlo Pruneri, Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, Mario Romolo Faretta, Daniela Bossi, Luisa Maria Lanfrancone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epigenetic regulation plays an essential role in tumor development and epigenetic modifiers are considered optimal potential druggable candidates. In order to identify new breast cancer vulnerabilities and improve therapeutic chances for patients, we performed in vivo and in vitro shRNA screens in a human breast cancer cell model (MCF10DCIS.com cell line) using epigenetic libraries. Among the genes identified in our screening, we deeply investigated the role of Chromodomain Helicase DNA binding Protein 4 (CHD4) in breast cancer tumorigenesis. CHD4 silencing significantly reduced tumor growth in vivo and proliferation in vitro of MCF10DCIS.com cells. Similarly, in vivo breast cancer growth was decreased in a spontaneous mouse model of breast carcinoma (MMTV-NeuT system) and in metastatic patient-derived xenograft models. Conversely, no reduction in proliferative ability of non-transformed mammary epithelial cells (MCF10A) was detected. Moreover, we showed that CHD4 depletion arrests proliferation by inducing a G0/G1 block of cell cycle associated with up-regulation of CDKN1A (p21). These results highlight the relevance of genetic screens in the identification of tumor frailties and the role of CHD4 as a potential pharmacological target to inhibit breast cancer growth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80901-80915
Number of pages15
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Breast cancer
  • CHD4
  • Epigenetic targets
  • In vivo murine and human models
  • RNAi screen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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