Genome-wide prediction of synthetic rescue mediators of resistance to targeted and immunotherapy

Avinash Das Sahu, Joo S Lee, Zhiyong Wang, Gao Zhang, Ramiro Iglesias-Bartolome, Tian Tian, Zhi Wei, Benchun Miao, Nishanth Ulhas Nair, Olga Ponomarova, Adam A. Friedman, Arnaud Amzallag, Tabea Moll, Gyulnara Kasumova, Patricia Greninger, Regina K. Egan, Leah J. Damon, Dennie T. Frederick, Livnat Jerby-Arnon, Allon WagnerKuoyuan Cheng, Seung Gu Park, Welles Robinson, Kevin Gardner, Genevieve Boland, Sridhar Hannenhalli, Meenhard Herlyn, Cyril Benes, Keith Flaherty, Ji Luo, J. Silvio Gutkind, Eytan Ruppin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Most patients with advanced cancer eventually acquire resistance to targeted therapies, spurring extensive efforts to identify molecular events mediating therapy resistance. Many of these events involve synthetic rescue (SR) interactions, where the reduction in cancer cell viability caused by targeted gene inactivation is rescued by an adaptive alteration of another gene (the rescuer). Here, we perform a genome-wide in silico prediction of SR rescuer genes by analyzing tumor transcriptomics and survival data of 10,000 TCGA cancer patients. Predicted SR interactions are validated in new experimental screens. We show that SR interactions can successfully predict cancer patients’ response and emerging resistance. Inhibiting predicted rescuer genes sensitizes resistant cancer cells to therapies synergistically, providing initial leads for developing combinatorial approaches to overcome resistance proactively. Finally, we show that the SR analysis of melanoma patients successfully identifies known mediators of resistance to immunotherapy and predicts novel rescuers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere8323
JournalMolecular Systems Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Applied Mathematics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


  • drug combination
  • drug resistance
  • immunotherapy
  • synergy


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