The SIKness of DSRCT
Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor (DSRCT) is a rare and aggressive malignant cancer caused by the chromosomal translocation t(11;22)(p13;q12) that produces an oncogenic transcription factor, EWSR1-WT1. EWSR1-WT1 is essential for the initiation and progression of DSRCT. However, the precise mechanism by which EWSR1-WT1 drives DSRCT oncogenesis remains unresolved. Through our integrative gene expression analysis, we identified Salt Inducible Kinase 1 (SIK1) as a direct target of EWSR1-WT1. SIK1 as a member of the AMPK related kinase is involved in many biological processes. We showed that depletion of SIK1 causes inhibition of tumor cell growth, similar to the growth inhibition observed when EWSR1-WT1 is depleted. We further showed that silencing SIK1 leads to cessation of DNA replication in DSRCT cells and inhibition of tumor growth in vivo. Lastly, combined inhibition of SIK1 and CHEK1with small molecule inhibitors, YKL-05-099 and prexasertib, respectively, showed enhanced cytotoxicity in DSRCT cells compared to inhibition of either kinases alone. This work identified SIK1 as a new potential therapeutic target in DSRCT and the efficacy of SIK1 inhibition may be improved when combined with other intervention strategies.