Genetic approaches have contributed greatly to our understanding of biology, but they are limited in cancer cells because genetic loss-of-function in diploid cells is obscured by expression from the wild type allele. To address this limitation, we propose to develop KillerRed Assisted Mutagenesis (KRAM) to generate an unbiased forward genetic screen for somatic cells to identify proteins required for cancer-relevant processes. There are several components to KRAM: first, enhanced retroviral mutagenesis (ERM) will be used to introduce a regulated promoter/guest exon fusion encoding the photosensitizer gene, KillerRed, randomly throughout the genome. The promoter segment provides overexpression of the fused gene, leading to gain of function;while the KillerRed fusion permits Chromophore-Assisted Light Inactivation (CALI), a light-mediated inactivation technology, to destroy the protein fusion, leading to loss of function. As will be discussed later, in contrast to genetic deletion, we expect photo damage by CALI to exert dominant effects regardless of wild type allele expression. Thus, KRAM will provide for the first time a low cost high throughput approach to address the consequences of loss-of-function and gain-of-function globally in diploid cells. KRAM selection would cost markedly less than RNAi and cDNA expression library screens, as it does not require synthesis of specific reagents for every gene. To develop and test KRAM, we will use it to identify genes that act in methotrexate resistance of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), a well-characterized process whose genes are known. We will then use KRAM to study imatinib resistance, an important clinical problem in CML, where we expect to identify new genes in this process. We have assembled a research team whose combined expertise is optimized for the success of the proposed work. The PI pioneered CALI and is the leading authority on this approach and its application to cancer. Dr. Cochran developed the cell lines that will be used to develop KRAM, Dr. Songyang invented ERM screening and Dr. Van Etten is an expert in CML and abl-oncogenes. To establish KRAM, we propose three Aims: 1) optimize KillerRed CALI using ?-galactosidase and endogenous proteins implicated in drug resistance;2) develop KRAM and test its ability to select for genes required for methotrexate resistance;and 3) conduct a full-scale KRAM selection to identify new genes important for imatinib resistance and validate them by overexpression and siRNA. Successful completion of these Aims will provide a proof-of-principle for selections that are generally applicable for other cancers and also for other cancer relevant processes such as proliferation, invasiveness and apoptosis. In addition, it will identify and validate new targets to develop drugs that prevent imatinib resistance in CML, which has potentially high clinical significance. As a generalized low cost approach for gain-of-function/loss-of-function selection in somatic cells, KRAM will have wide application across biomedicine and be a transformative technology.

Public Health Relevance

Genetic selections using somatic cancer cells have been limited by high cost and difficulty and additionally, they currently select for loss-of-function or gain-of-function mutations but not both. We propose to develop KillerRed Assisted Mutagenesis (KRAM), which combines insertional mutagenesis to generate gain-of- function mutants and KillerRed CALI, a targeted photo-destruction strategy for loss-of-function, to provide a low cost genetic approach that would have high utility in cancer biology and throughout biomedicine, and thus be potentially transformative.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
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Instrumentation and Systems Development Study Section (ISD)
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Misra, Raj N
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Tufts University
Schools of Medicine
United States
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