In vivo RNAi screening identifies a mechanism of sorafenib resistance in liver cancer
Authors: Rudalska R, Dauch D, Longerich T, McJunkin K, Wuestefeld T, Kang TW, Hohmeyer A, Pesic M, Leibold J, von Thun A, Schirmacher P, Zuber J, Weiss KH, Powers S, Malek NP, Eilers M, Sipos B, Lowe SW, Geffers R, Laufer S, Zender L
CellNetworks People: Schirmacher Peter
Journal: Nat Med. 2014 Oct;20(10):1138-46. doi: 10.1038/nm.3679

In solid tumors, resistance to therapy inevitably develops upon treatment with cytotoxic drugs or molecularly targeted therapies. Here, we describe a system that enables pooled shRNA screening directly in mouse hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) in vivo to identify genes likely to be involved in therapy resistance. Using a focused shRNA library targeting genes located within focal genomic amplifications of human HCC, we screened for genes whose inhibition increased the therapeutic efficacy of the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib. Both shRNA-mediated and pharmacological silencing of Mapk14 (p38α) were found to sensitize mouse HCC to sorafenib therapy and prolong survival by abrogating Mapk14-dependent activation of Mek-Erk and Atf2 signaling. Elevated Mapk14-Atf2 signaling predicted poor response to sorafenib therapy in human HCC, and sorafenib resistance of p-Mapk14-expressing HCC cells could be reverted by silencing Mapk14. Our results suggest that a combination of sorafenib and Mapk14 blockade is a promising approach to overcoming therapy resistance of human HCC.