Osteosarcoma (OS) is the most prevalent primary bone malignancy that affects children and young adults. Despite several years of research, survival outcome of OS patients has not improved in last three decades. OS is treated with multi-modal chemotherapy, which is highly toxic and does not work well for metastatic and chemo-resistant tumors. Currently there is no FDA approved drug that can serve as an alternative to chemotherapy, warranting an urgent need to find more efficacious and targeted therapeutics for OS. Here, we report that RNA demethylase AlkB Homolog 5 (ALKBH5) may serve as a novel therapeutic adjuvant for treating OS. N6 Methyladenosine (m6 A) is the most common internal mRNA modification, which is modulated by the multi-component RNA methyltransferase complex, RNA demethylase (ALKBH5) and m6A readers . We show that ALKBH5 is amplified in sarcomas and its expression is highly elevated in osteosarcoma patients. We demonstrate that silencing of ALKBH5 inhibits the OS growth and migration without affecting the viability of normal human fetal osteoblast cells. Our results reveal that ALKBH5 depletion impairs the cell cycle progression and induces apoptosis in OS cells. Interestingly, we demonstrate that reduction in ALKBH5 levels suppresses the DNA damage repair capacity of osteosarcoma cells rendering them sensitive to DNA damaging agent like Doxorubicin. Using DR-GFP reporter-based homologous recombination (HR) assay, we show that ALKBH5 depletion leads to reduced HR-mediated DNA repair capacity of osteosarcoma cells. Supporting this, we observed significantly reduced expression of several genes that are known to play critical roles in cell cycle progression and DNA damage repair. In summary, this study shows that ALKBH5 is a critical regulator of OS growth and chemosensitivity. Approaches aimed at silencing ALKBH5 can be potentially used to inhibit osteosarcoma growth and progression as well as sensitize osteosarcoma cells to DNA damaging agents.

Citation Format: Pooja Yadav, Panneerdoss Subbarayalu, Nourhan Abdelfattah, Vijay K. Eedunuri, Yidong Chen, Manjeet K. Rao. N6Methyladenosine RNA demethylase ALKBH5 as a novel therapeutic target for osteosarcoma [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 4146.