Background: Breast cancer (BC) is a leading cause of death in women. Women with Locally Advanced Breast Cancer (LABC) have high risk disease with either large primary breast tumours and/or lymph node involvement. While neoadjuvant chemotherapy eradicates breast cancer in approximately one-third of cases prior to surgery, almost 70% of patients have residual disease and many will require additional chemotherapy post-operatively. Improving pre-operative efficacy of neoadjuvant systemic treatments while reducing their iatrogenicities are critical unmet needs.
Methods: Here, we develop an RNA interference (RNAi) screening approach using conditionally reprogrammed primary LABC biopsies to identify genes of the mitochondrial Solute Ligand Carrier 25 (SLC25) family that support LABC cell viability.
Results: We report that silencing SLC25A12, -A15, and -A18 genes, involved in glutamate and ornithine flux, augment 5-fluorouracil (5FU) cytotoxic effectiveness in LABC cells.
Conclusions: Our data suggest glutamate metabolism may be a tumour-specific metabolic vulnerability in LABC. Furthermore, we demonstrate that RNAi screening in conditionally reprogrammed primary human breast cells can identify novel targets for the development of non-genotoxic BC treatments.