Suppression of heparan sulfation re-sensitizes YAP1-driven melanoma to MAPK pathway inhibitors

Sebastian M. Dieter*, Domenica Lovecchio, Abhijeet Pataskar, Martina K. Zowada, Pierre René Körner, Anna Khalizieva, Olaf van Tellingen, Dirk Jäger, Hanno Glimm, Reuven Agami*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Accumulating evidence identifies non-genetic mechanisms substantially contributing to drug resistance in cancer patients. Preclinical and clinical data implicate the transcriptional co-activators YAP1 and its paralog TAZ in resistance to multiple targeted therapies, highlighting the strong need for therapeutic strategies overcoming YAP1/TAZ-mediated resistance across tumor entities. Here, we show particularly high YAP1/TAZ activity in MITFlow/AXLhigh melanomas characterized by resistance to MAPK pathway inhibition and broad receptor tyrosine kinase activity. To uncover genetic dependencies of melanoma cells with high YAP1/TAZ activity, we used a genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 functional screen and identified SLC35B2, the 3′-phosphoadenosine-5′-phosphosulfate transporter of the Golgi apparatus, as an essential gene for YAP1/TAZ-driven drug resistance. SLC35B2 expression correlates with tumor progression, and its loss decreases heparan sulfate expression, reduces receptor tyrosine kinase activity, and sensitizes resistant melanoma cells to BRAF inhibition in vitro and in vivo. Thus, targeting heparan sulfation via SLC35B2 represents a novel approach for breaking receptor tyrosine kinase-mediated resistance to MAPK pathway inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3953-3968
Number of pages16
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2022

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