Transcriptional silencing of aldh2 confers a dependency on fanconi anemia proteins in acute myeloid leukemia

Zhaolin Yang, Xiaoli S. Wu, Yiliang Wei, Sofya A. Polyanskaya, Shruti V. Iyer, Moonjung Jung, Francis P. Lach, Emmalee R. Adelman, Olaf Klingbeil, Joseph P. Milazzo, Melissa Kramer, Osama E. Demerdash, Kenneth Chang, Sara Goodwin, Emily Hodges, W. Richard McCombie, Maria E. Figueroa, Agata Smogorzewska, Christopher R. Vakoc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Hundreds of genes become aberrantly silenced in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with most of these epigenetic changes being of unknown functional consequence. Here, we demonstrate how gene silencing can lead to an acquired dependency on the DNA repair machinery in AML. We make this observation by profiling the essentiality of the ubiquitination machinery in cancer cell lines using domain-focused CRISPR screening, which revealed Fanconi anemia (FA) proteins UBE2T and FANCL as unique dependencies in AML. We demonstrate that these dependencies are due to a synthetic lethal interaction between FA proteins and aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), which function in parallel pathways to counteract the genotoxicity of endogenous aldehydes. We show DNA hypermethylation and silencing of ALDH2 occur in a recurrent manner in human AML, which is sufficient to confer FA pathway dependency. Our study suggests that targeting of the ubiquitination reaction catalyzed by FA proteins can eliminate ALDH2-deficient AML.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2300-2315
Number of pages16
JournalCancer discovery
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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