Rectal cancer is a common disease with high mortality rates and limited therapeutic options. Here we combined the gene expression signatures of rectal cancer patients with the reverse drug-induced gene-expression profiles to identify drug repositioning candidates for cancer therapy. Among the predicted repurposable drugs, topoisomerase II inhibitors (doxorubicin, teniposide, idarubicin, mitoxantrone, and epirubicin) presented a high potential to reverse rectal cancer gene expression signatures. We showed that these drugs effectively reduced the growth of colorectal cancer cell lines closely representing rectal cancer signatures. We also found a clear correlation between topoisomerase 2A (TOP2A) gene copy number or expression levels with the sensitivity to topoisomerase II inhibitors. Furthermore, CRISPR-Cas9 and shRNA screenings confirmed that loss-of-function of the TOP2A has the highest efficacy in reducing cellular proliferation. Finally, we observed significant TOP2A copy number gains and increased expression in independent cohorts of rectal cancer patients. These findings can be translated into clinical practice to evaluate TOP2A status for targeted and personalized therapies based on topoisomerase II inhibitors in rectal cancer patients.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Drug repositioning
- Drug reversal potency scoring
- Gene expression features
- Rectal cancer
- Reverse expression of signature genes