- Giuliano CJ
- 2018 Feb 8
Literature context: Rat1 CSHL Cell Line Repository RRID:CVCL_0512
The Maternal Embryonic Leucine Zipper Kinase (MELK) has been identified as a promising therapeutic target in multiple cancer types. MELK over-expression is associated with aggressive disease, and MELK has been implicated in numerous cancer-related processes, including chemotherapy resistance, stem cell renewal, and tumor growth. Previously, we established that triple-negative breast cancer cell lines harboring CRISPR/Cas9-induced null mutations in MELK proliferate at wild-type levels in vitro (Lin et al., 2017). Here, we generate several additional knockout clones of MELK and demonstrate that across cancer types, cells lacking MELK exhibit wild-type growth in vitro, under environmental stress, in the presence of cytotoxic chemotherapies, and in vivo. By combining our MELK-knockout clones with a recently described, highly specific MELK inhibitor, we further demonstrate that the acute inhibition of MELK results in no specific anti-proliferative phenotype. Analysis of gene expression data from cohorts of cancer patients identifies MELK expression as a correlate of tumor mitotic activity, explaining its association with poor clinical prognosis. In total, our results demonstrate the power of CRISPR/Cas9-based genetic approaches to investigate cancer drug targets, and call into question the rationale for treating patients with anti-MELK monotherapies.
- NIDDK NIH HHS - R01 DK088718(United States)
- NIH Office of the Director - 1DP5OD021385()