PBRM1 mutations might render a subtype of biliary tract cancers sensitive to drugs targeting the DNA damage repair system

Kai Zimmer, Florian Kocher, Gerold Untergasser, Brigitte Kircher, Arno Amann, Yasmine Baca, Joanne Xiu, W. Micheal Korn, Martin D. Berger, Heinz Josef Lenz, Alberto Puccini, Elisa Fontana, Anthony F. Shields, John L. Marshall, Michael Hall, Wafik S. El-Deiry, David Hsiehchen, Teresa Macarulla, Josep Tabernero, Renate PichlerMoh’d Khushman, Upender Manne, Emil Lou, Dominik Wolf, Viktorija Sokolova, Simon Schnaiter, Alain G. Zeimet, Pat Gulhati, Gerlig Widmann, Andreas Seeber

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4 Scopus citations


Polybromo-1 (PBRM1) loss of function mutations are present in a fraction of biliary tract cancers (BTCs). PBRM1, a subunit of the PBAF chromatin-remodeling complex, is involved in DNA damage repair. Herein, we aimed to decipher the molecular landscape of PBRM1 mutated (mut) BTCs and to define potential translational aspects. Totally, 1848 BTC samples were analyzed using next-generation DNA-sequencing and immunohistochemistry (Caris Life Sciences, Phoenix, AZ). siRNA-mediated knockdown of PBRM1 was performed in the BTC cell line EGI1 to assess the therapeutic vulnerabilities of ATR and PARP inhibitors in vitro. PBRM1 mutations were identified in 8.1% (n = 150) of BTCs and were more prevalent in intrahepatic BTCs (9.9%) compared to gallbladder cancers (6.0%) or extrahepatic BTCs (4.5%). Higher rates of co-mutations in chromatin-remodeling genes (e.g., ARID1A 31% vs. 16%) and DNA damage repair genes (e.g., ATRX 4.4% vs. 0.3%) were detected in PBRM1-mutated (mut) vs. PBRM1-wildtype (wt) BTCs. No difference in real-world overall survival was observed between PBRM1-mut and PBRM1-wt patients (HR 1.043, 95% CI 0.821–1.325, p = 0.731). In vitro, experiments suggested that PARP ± ATR inhibitors induce synthetic lethality in the PBRM1 knockdown BTC model. Our findings served as the scientific rationale for PARP inhibition in a heavily pretreated PBRM1-mut BTC patient, which induced disease control. This study represents the largest and most extensive molecular profiling study of PBRM1-mut BTCs, which in vitro sensitizes to DNA damage repair inhibiting compounds. Our findings might serve as a rationale for future testing of PARP/ATR inhibitors in PBRM1-mut BTCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number64
Journalnpj Precision Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

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