Whole genome doubling confers unique genetic vulnerabilities on tumor cells
MetadataShow full item record
Whole genome doubling (WGD) generates genetically unstable tetraploid cells that fuel tumorigenesis. Cells that undergo WGD must acquire adaptive characteristics to accommodate their tetraploid state, and these adaptations may confer unique vulnerabilities that can be exploited therapeutically. We analyzed the genomes of ~9,700 primary human cancer samples to uncover genetic alterations that are specifically enriched in WGD+ cancer cells. Through integrating our genetic analysis with gene essentiality data acquired from Project Achilles, we identified gene dependencies in WGD+ cells. Moreover, we identified genes that are essential for the viability of WGD+ cancer cells, but non-essential to non-transformed diploid cells. We demonstrated that the gene encoding for the mitotic kinesin KIF18A is dispensable for mitosis in diploid cells, but becomes critical for accurate chromosome segregation and viability in WGD+ cells, making it an attractive drug target. Collectively, this work revealed new strategies to specifically target WGD+ cancer cells, namely targeting the gene KIF18A, while sparing the normal diploid cells from which they arise.