Genetic screens identify a context-specific PI3K/p27Kip1 node driving extrahepatic biliary cancer

Chiara FalcomataStefanie BärthelAngelika UlrichSandra DierschChristian VeltkampLena RadFabio BonioloMyriam SolarKatja SteigerBarbara SeidlerMagdalena ZukowskaJoanna MadejMingsong WangRupert OllingerRoman MareschMaxim BarenboimStefan EserMarkus TschurtschenthalerArianeb MehrabiStephanie RoesslerBenjamin GoeppertAlexander KindAngelika SchniekeMaria S RoblesAllan BradleyRoland M SchmidMarc Schmidt-SupprianMaximilian ReichertWilko WeichertOwen J SansomJennifer P MortonRoland RadGunter SchneiderDieter Saur

. 2021 Jul 19;candisc.0209.2021.

 doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-21-0209.


Biliary tract cancer ranks among the most lethal human malignancies, representing an unmet clinical need. Its abysmal prognosis is tied to an increasing incidence and a fundamental lack of mechanistic knowledge regarding the molecular basis of the disease. Here, we show that the Pdx1-positive extrahepatic biliary epithelium is highly susceptible towards transformation by activated Pik3caH1047R, but refractory to oncogenic KrasG12D. Using genome-wide transposon screens and genetic loss-of-function experiments, we discover context-dependent genetic interactions that drive extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ECC) and show that PI3K-signaling output strength and repression of the tumor-suppressor p27Kip1 are critical context-specific determinants of tumor formation. This contrasts the pancreas, where oncogenic Kras in concert with Trp53-loss are key cancer-drivers. Notably, inactivation of p27Kip1 permits KrasG12D-driven ECC development. These studies provide a mechanistic link between PI3K-signaling, tissue-specific tumor suppressor barriers, and ECC pathogenesis, and present a novel genetic model of autochthonous ECC and genes driving this highly lethal tumor-subtype.