In recent years, multiple studies including ours have reported on the mechanism of resistance towards valosin-containing protein (VCP) inhibitors. While all these studies reported target alterations via mutations in VCP as the primary mechanism of resistance, discrepancies persist to date regarding the zygosity of these mutations responsible for the resistance. In addition, the extent to which resistant cells harbor additional mutations in other genes is not well described. In this study, we performed global transcript analysis of the parental and previously reported VCP inhibitor (CB-5083) resistant cells and found additional mutations in the resistant cells. However, our CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing studies indicate that specific mutations in VCP are sufficient to produce resistance to CB-5083 suggesting the importance of on-target mutations in VCP for resistance. Strikingly, our analysis indicates a preexisting heterozygous frameshift mutation at codon 616 (N616fs*) in one of the VCP alleles in HCT116 cells, and we showed that this mutant allele is subjected to the nonsense-mediated decay (NMD). Accordingly, we identified a heterozygous mutation at codon 526 (L526S) in genomic DNA sequencing but a homozygous L526S mutation in complementary DNA sequencing in our independently generated CB-5083 resistant HCT116 cells, implying that the L526S mutation occurs in the allele that does not harbor the frameshift N616fs* mutation. Our results suggest the NMD as a possible mechanism for achieving the homozygosity of VCP mutant responsible for the resistance to VCP inhibitors while resolving the discrepancies among previous studies. Our results also underscore the importance of performing simultaneous genomic and complementary DNA sequencing when attributing mutational effects on the functionality particularly for an oligomer protein like VCP.
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