The SWI/SNF complex is a major regulator of gene expression and is increasingly thought to play an important role in human cancer, as evidenced by the high frequency of subunit mutations across virtually all cancer types. We previously reported that in preclinical models, malignant rhabdoid tumors, which are deficient in the SWI/SNF core component INI1 (SMARCB1), are selectively killed by inhibitors of the H3K27 histone methyltransferase EZH2. Given the demonstrated antagonistic activities of the SWI/SNF complex and the EZH2-containing PRC2 complex, we investigated whether additional cancers with SWI/SNF mutations are sensitive to selective EZH2 inhibition. It has been recently reported that ovarian cancers with dual loss of the redundant SWI/SNF components SMARCA4 and SMARCA2 are characteristic of a rare rhabdoid-like subtype known as small cell carcinoma of the ovary hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT). Here, we provide evidence that a subset of commonly used ovarian carcinoma cell lines were misdiagnosed and instead were derived from a SCCOHT tumor. We also demonstrate that tazemetostat, a potent and selective EZH2 inhibitor currently in Phase II clinical trials, induces potent anti-proliferative and anti-tumor effects in SCCOHT cell lines and xenografts deficient in both SMARCA2 and SMARCA4. These results exemplify an additional class of rhabdoid-like tumors that are dependent on EZH2 activity for survival.
- Received October 14, 2016.
- Revision received January 26, 2017.
- Accepted February 23, 2017.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.