Targeting Transcriptional Addictions in Small Cell Lung Cancer with a Covalent CDK7 Inhibitor

Camilla L. Christensen, Nicholas Kwiatkowski, Brian J. Abraham, Julian Carretero, Fatima Al-Shahrour, Tinghu Zhang, Edmond Chipumuro, Grit S. Herter-Sprie, Esra A. Akbay, Abigail Altabef, Jianming Zhang, Takeshi Shimamura, Marzia Capelletti, Jakob B. Reibel, Jillian D. Cavanaugh, Peng Gao, Yan Liu, Signe R. Michaelsen, Hans S. Poulsen, Amir R. ArefDavid A. Barbie, James E. Bradner, Rani E. George, Nathanael S. Gray, Richard A. Young, Kwok Kin Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

340 Scopus citations


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive disease with high mortality, and the identification of effective pharmacological strategies to target SCLC biology represents an urgent need. Using a high-throughput cellular screen of a diverse chemical library, we observe that SCLC is sensitive to transcription-targeting drugs, in particular to THZ1, a recently identified covalent inhibitor of cyclin-dependent kinase 7. We find that expression of super-enhancer-associated transcription factor genes, including MYC family proto-oncogenes and neuroendocrine lineage-specific factors, is highly vulnerability to THZ1 treatment. We propose that downregulation of these transcription factors contributes, in part, to SCLC sensitivity to transcriptional inhibitors and that THZ1 represents a prototype drug for tailored SCLC therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)909-922
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 8 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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