Selective modulation of a pan-essential protein as a therapeutic strategy in cancer. Cancer Discov. 2021.
Cancer dependency maps, which use CRISPR/Cas9 depletion screens to profile the landscape of genetic dependencies in hundreds of cancer cell lines, have identified context-specific dependencies that could be therapeutically exploited. An ideal therapy is both lethal and precise, but these depletion screens cannot readily distinguish between gene effects that are cytostatic or cytotoxic. Here, we employ a diverse panel of functional genomic screening assays to identify NXT1 as a selective and rapidly lethal in vivo-relevant genetic dependency in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma. NXT1 heterodimerizes with NXF1 and together they form the principle mRNA nuclear export machinery. We describe a previously unrecognized mechanism of synthetic lethality between NXT1 and its paralog NXT2: their common essential binding partner NXF1 is lost only in the absence of both. We propose a potential therapeutic strategy for tumor-selective elimination of a protein that, if targeted directly, is expected to cause widespread toxicity.