Patients with advanced stage head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) are often treated with cisplatin-containing chemoradiation protocols. Although cisplatin is an effective radiation sensitizer, it causes severe toxicity and not all patients benefit from the combination treatment. HNSCCs expectedly not responding to cisplatin may better be treated with surgery and postoperative radiation or cetuximab and radiation, but biomarkers to personalize chemoradiotherapy are not available. We performed an unbiased genome-wide functional genetic screen in vitro to identify genes that influence the response to cisplatin in HNSCC cells. By siRNA-mediated knockdown, we identified the Fanconi anemia/BRCA pathway as the predominant pathway for cisplatin response in HNSCC cells. We also identified the involvement of the SHFM1 gene in the process of DNA cross-link repair. Furthermore, expression profiles based on these genes predict the prognosis of radiation- and chemoradiation-treated head and neck cancer patients. This genome-wide functional analysis designated the genes that are important in the response of HNSCC to cisplatin and may guide further biomarker validation. Cisplatin imaging as well as biomarkers that indicate the activity of the Fanconi anemia/BRCA pathway in the tumors are the prime candidates. Mol Cancer Ther; 16(3); 540–50. ©2016 AACR.
This article is featured in Highlights of This Issue, p. 415
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Online (http://mct.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received July 18, 2016.
- Revision received November 18, 2016.
- Accepted December 6, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.