Mercier FE, Shi J, Sykes DB, Oki T, Jankovic M, Man CH, Kfoury YS, Miller E, He S, Zhu A, Vasic R, Doench J, Orthwein A, Michor F, Scadden DT.Blood Adv. 2022 Sep 13;6(17):5072-5084. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2022007250.PMID: 35793392
Genome-wide CRISPR screens have been extremely useful in identifying therapeutic targets in diverse cancers by defining genes that are essential for malignant growth. However, most CRISPR screens were performed in vitro and thus cannot identify genes that are essential for interactions with the microenvironment in vivo. Here, we report genome-wide CRISPR screens in 2 in vivo murine models of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) driven by the KMT2A/MLLT3 fusion or by the constitutive coexpression of Hoxa9 and Meis1. Secondary validation using a focused library identified 72 genes specifically essential for leukemic growth in vivo, including components of the major histocompatibility complex class I complex, Cd47, complement receptor Cr1l, and the β-4-galactosylation pathway. Importantly, several of these in vivo-specific hits have a prognostic effect or are inferred to be master regulators of protein activity in human AML cases. For instance, we identified Fermt3, a master regulator of integrin signaling, as having in vivo-specific dependency with high prognostic relevance. Overall, we show an experimental and computational pipeline for genome-wide functional screens in vivo in AML and provide a genome-wide resource of essential drivers of leukemic growth in vivo.