Functional profiling identifies determinants of arsenic trioxide cellular toxicity


Arsenic exposure is a worldwide health concern associated with an increased risk of skin, lung, and bladder cancer but arsenic trioxide (AsIII) is also an effective chemotherapeutic agent. The current use of AsIII in chemotherapy is limited to acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). However, AsIII was suggested as a potential therapy for other cancer types including chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), especially when combined with other drugs. Here, we carried out a genome-wide CRISPR-based approach to identify modulators of AsIII toxicity in K562, a human CML cell line. We found that disruption of KEAP1, the inhibitory partner of the key antioxidant transcription factor Nrf2, or TXNDC17, a thioredoxin-like protein, markedly increased AsIII tolerance. Loss of the water channel AQP3, the zinc transporter ZNT1 and its regulator MTF1 also enhanced tolerance to AsIII whereas loss of the multidrug resistance protein ABCC1 increased sensitivity to AsIII. Remarkably, disruption of any of multiple genes, EEFSEC, SECISBP2, SEPHS2, SEPSECS, and PSTK, encoding proteins involved in selenocysteine metabolism increased resistance to AsIII. Our data suggest a model in which an intracellular interaction between selenium and AsIII may impact intracellular AsIII levels and toxicity. Together this work revealed a suite of cellular components/processes which modulate the toxicity of AsIII in CML cells. Targeting such processes simultaneously with AsIII treatment could potentiate AsIII in CML therapy.

In Toxicological Sciences
Nima Hejazi
Nima Hejazi
Assistant Professor of Biostatistics

My research lies at the intersection of causal inference and machine learning, developing flexible methodology for statistical inference tailored to modern experiments and observational studies in the biomedical and public health sciences.