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WDR5 is a conserved regulator of protein synthesis gene expression


Bryan AF , Wang J , Howard GC , Guarnaccia AD , Woodley CM , Aho ER , Rellinger EJ , Matlock BK , Flaherty DK , Lorey SL , Chung DH , Fesik SW , Liu Q , Weissmiller AM , Tansey WP , . Nucleic acids research. 2020 4 6; 48(6). 2924-2941


WDR5 is a highly-conserved nuclear protein that performs multiple scaffolding functions in the context of chromatin. WDR5 is also a promising target for pharmacological inhibition in cancer, with small molecule inhibitors of an arginine-binding pocket of WDR5 (the ‘WIN’ site) showing efficacy against a range of cancer cell lines in vitro. Efforts to understand WDR5, or establish the mechanism of action of WIN site inhibitors, however, are stymied by its many functions in the nucleus, and a lack of knowledge of the conserved gene networks-if any-that are under its control. Here, we have performed comparative genomic analyses to identify the conserved sites of WDR5 binding to chromatin, and the conserved genes regulated by WDR5, across a diverse panel of cancer cell lines. We show that a specific cohort of protein synthesis genes (PSGs) are invariantly bound by WDR5, demonstrate that the WIN site anchors WDR5 to chromatin at these sites, and establish that PSGs are bona fide, acute, and persistent targets of WIN site blockade. Together, these data reveal that WDR5 plays a predominant transcriptional role in biomass accumulation and provide further evidence that WIN site inhibitors act to repress gene networks linked to protein synthesis homeostasis.

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