A tool for browsing the Cancer Dependency Map reveals functional connections between genes and helps predict the efficacy and selectivity of candidate cancer drugs


Individual cancers rely on distinct essential genes for their survival. The Cancer Dependency Map (DepMap) is an ongoing project to uncover gene dependency in hundreds of cancer cell lines. DepMap is a powerful drug discovery tool, but can be challenging to use without professional bioinformatics assistance. We combined CRISPR and shRNA screening data from DepMap and built a non-programmer-friendly browser (https://labsyspharm.shinyapps.io/depmap) that reports, for each gene, the growth reduction that can be expected on the loss of a gene or inhibition of its action (efficacy) and the selectivity of this effect across cell lines. Cluster analysis revealed proteins that work together in pathways or complexes. This tool can be used to 1) predict the efficacy and selectivity of candidate drugs; 2) identify targets for highly selective drugs; 3) identify maximally sensitive cell lines for testing a drug; 4) target hop, i.e., navigate from an undruggable protein with the desired selectively profile, such as an activated oncogene, to more druggable targets with a similar profile; and 5) identify novel pathways needed for cancer cell growth and survival.