BRG1/SMARCA4 is essential for neuroblastoma cell viability through modulation of cell death and survival pathways

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Abstract

Neuroblastoma (NB) is a neoplasm of the sympathetic nervous system, and is the most common solid tumor of infancy. NBs are very heterogeneous, with a clinical course ranging from spontaneous regression to resistance to all current forms of treatment. High-risk patients need intense chemotherapy, and only 30-40% will be cured. Relapsed or metastatic tumors acquire multi-drug resistance, raising the need for alternative treatments. Owing to the diverse mechanisms that are responsible of NB chemoresistance, we aimed to target epigenetic factors that control multiple pathways to bypass therapy resistance. We found that the SWI/SNF-related, matrix-associated, actin-dependent regulator of chromatin, subfamily a, member 4 (SMARCA4/BRG1) was consistently upregulated in advanced stages of NB, with high BRG1 levels being indicative of poor outcome. Loss-of-function experiments in vitro and in vivo showed that BRG1 is essential for the proliferation of NB cells. Furthermore, whole-genome transcriptome analysis revealed that BRG1 controls the expression of key elements of oncogenic pathways such as PI3K/AKT and BCL2, which offers a promising new combination therapy for high-risk NB.

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