Epigenetic modulation reveals differentiation state specificity of oncogene addiction

Mehwish Khaliq, Mohan Manikkam, Elisabeth D. Martinez, Mohammad Fallahi-Sichani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Hyperactivation of the MAPK signaling pathway motivates the clinical use of MAPK inhibitors for BRAF-mutant melanomas. Heterogeneity in differentiation state due to epigenetic plasticity, however, results in cell-to-cell variability in the state of MAPK dependency, diminishing the efficacy of MAPK inhibitors. To identify key regulators of such variability, we screen 276 epigenetic-modifying compounds, individually or combined with MAPK inhibitors, across genetically diverse and isogenic populations of melanoma cells. Following single-cell analysis and multivariate modeling, we identify three classes of epigenetic inhibitors that target distinct epigenetic states associated with either one of the lysine-specific histone demethylases Kdm1a or Kdm4b, or BET bromodomain proteins. While melanocytes remain insensitive, the anti-tumor efficacy of each inhibitor is predicted based on melanoma cells’ differentiation state and MAPK activity. Our systems pharmacology approach highlights a path toward identifying actionable epigenetic factors that extend the BRAF oncogene addiction paradigm on the basis of tumor cell differentiation state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1536
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Epigenetic modulation reveals differentiation state specificity of oncogene addiction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this