CRISPR-Cas9 genetic screen leads to the discovery of L-Moses, a KAT2B inhibitor that attenuates Tunicamycin-mediated neuronal cell death
Pavlou S., Foskolou S., Patikas N., Field SF., Papachristou EK., Santos CD., Edwards AR., Kishore K., Ansari R., Rajan SS., Fernandes HJR., Metzakopian E.
AbstractAccumulation of aggregated and misfolded proteins, leading to endoplasmic reticulum stress and activation of the unfolded protein response, is a hallmark of several neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Genetic screens are powerful tools that are proving invaluable in identifying novel modulators of disease associated processes. Here, we performed a loss-of-function genetic screen using a human druggable genome library, followed by an arrayed-screen validation, in human iPSC-derived cortical neurons. We identified and genetically validated 13 genes, whose knockout was neuroprotective against Tunicamycin, a glycoprotein synthesis inhibitor widely used to induce endoplasmic reticulum stress. We also demonstrated that pharmacological inhibition of KAT2B, a lysine acetyltransferase identified by our genetic screens, by L-Moses, attenuates Tunicamycin-mediated neuronal cell death and activation of CHOP, a key pro-apoptotic member of the unfolded protein response in both cortical and dopaminergic neurons. Follow-up transcriptional analysis suggested that L-Moses provided neuroprotection by partly reversing the transcriptional changes caused by Tunicamycin. Finally, L-Moses treatment attenuated total protein levels affected by Tunicamycin, without affecting their acetylation profile. In summary, using an unbiased approach, we identified KAT2B and its inhibitor, L-Moses, as potential therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases.