Research ArticleCancer

Therapeutic targeting of the MYC signal by inhibition of histone chaperone FACT in neuroblastoma

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Science Translational Medicine  04 Nov 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 312, pp. 312ra176
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aab1803

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Uncovering the FACTs in neuroblastoma

Neuroblastoma is a common pediatric cancer of the nervous system. It is often difficult to treat, and tumors with amplifications of the MYC oncogene are particularly aggressive. Carter et al. have identified a histone chaperone called FACT as a mediator of MYC signaling in neuroblastoma and demonstrated its role in a feedback loop that allows tumor cells to maintain a high expression of both MYC and FACT. The authors then used curaxins, which are drugs that inhibit FACT, to break the vicious cycle. They demonstrated that curaxins work in synergy with standard genotoxic chemotherapy to kill cancer cells and treat neuroblastoma in mouse models.


Amplification of the MYCN oncogene predicts treatment resistance in childhood neuroblastoma. We used a MYC target gene signature that predicts poor neuroblastoma prognosis to identify the histone chaperone FACT (facilitates chromatin transcription) as a crucial mediator of the MYC signal and a therapeutic target in the disease. FACT and MYCN expression created a forward feedback loop in neuroblastoma cells that was essential for maintaining mutual high expression. FACT inhibition by the small-molecule curaxin compound CBL0137 markedly reduced tumor initiation and progression in vivo. CBL0137 exhibited strong synergy with standard chemotherapy by blocking repair of DNA damage caused by genotoxic drugs, thus creating a synthetic lethal environment in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma cells and suggesting a treatment strategy for MYCN-driven neuroblastoma.

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