RNAi screening of subtracted transcriptomes reveals tumor suppression by taurine-activated GABAA receptors involved in volume regulation

Camiel L.C. Wielders, Pim van Nierop, Tinke L. Vormer, Floris Foijer, Joanne Verheij, Johannes C. Lodder, Jesper B. Andersen, Huibert D. Mansvelder, Hein Te Riele*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To identify coding and non-coding suppressor genes of anchorage-independent proliferation by efficient loss-of-function screening, we have developed a method for enzymatic production of low complexity shRNA libraries from subtracted transcriptomes. We produced and screened two LEGO (Low-complexity by Enrichment for Genes shut Off) shRNA libraries that were enriched for shRNA vectors targeting coding and non-coding polyadenylated transcripts that were reduced in transformed Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts (MEFs). The LEGO shRNA libraries included ~25 shRNA vectors per transcript which limited off-target artifacts. Our method identified 79 coding and non-coding suppressor transcripts. We found that taurine-responsive GABAA receptor subunits, including GABRA5 and GABRB3, were induced during the arrest of non-transformed anchor-deprived MEFs and prevented anchorless proliferation. We show that taurine activates chloride currents through GABAA receptors on MEFs, causing seclusion of cell volume in large membrane protrusions. Volume seclusion from cells by taurine correlated with reduced proliferation and, conversely, suppression of this pathway allowed anchorage-independent proliferation. In human cholangiocarcinomas, we found that several proteins involved in taurine signaling via GABAA receptors were repressed. Low GABRA5 expression typified hyperproliferative tumors, and loss of taurine signaling correlated with reduced patient survival, suggesting this tumor suppressive mechanism operates in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0196979
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2018


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