Research Papers:

BRD4-targeted therapy induces Myc-independent cytotoxicity in Gnaq/11-mutatant uveal melanoma cells

Grazia Ambrosini _, Ashley D. Sawle, Elgilda Musi and Gary K. Schwartz

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:33397-33409. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5179

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Grazia Ambrosini1, Ashley D. Sawle1, Elgilda Musi1, Gary K. Schwartz1

1The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA

Correspondence to:

Grazia Ambrosini, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: BRD4, JQ1, Gnaq/11, Bcl-xL, Rad51

Received: June 18, 2015     Accepted: August 24, 2015     Published: September 05, 2015


Uveal melanoma (UM) is an aggressive intraocular malignancy with limited therapeutic options. Both primary and metastatic UM are characterized by oncogenic mutations in the G-protein alpha subunit q and 11. Furthermore, nearly 40% of UM has amplification of the chromosomal arm 8q and monosomy of chromosome 3, with consequent anomalies of MYC copy number. Chromatin regulators have become attractive targets for cancer therapy. In particular, the bromodomain and extra-terminal (BET) inhibitor JQ1 has shown selective inhibition of c-Myc expression with antiproliferative activity in hematopoietic and solid tumors. Here we provide evidence that JQ1 had cytotoxic activity in UM cell lines carrying Gnaq/11 mutations, while in cells without the mutations had little effects. Using microarray analysis, we identified a large subset of genes modulated by JQ1 involved in the regulation of cell cycle, apoptosis and DNA repair. Further analysis of selected genes determined that the concomitant silencing of Bcl-xL and Rad51 represented the minimal requirement to mimic the apoptotic effects of JQ1 in the mutant cells, independently of c-Myc. In addition, administration of JQ1 to mouse xenograft models of Gnaq-mutant UM resulted in significant inhibition of tumor growth.

Collectively, our results define BRD4 targeting as a novel therapeutic intervention against UM with Gnaq/Gna11 mutations.

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