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The de novo synthesis of fatty acids has emerged as a therapeutic target for various diseases including cancer. While several translational efforts have focused on direct perturbation of de novo fatty acid synthesis, only modest responses have been associated with mono-therapies. Since cancer cells are intrinsically buffered to combat metabolic stress, cells may adapt to loss of de novo fatty acid biosynthesis. To explore cellular response to defects in fatty acid synthesis, we used pooled genome-wide CRISPR screens to systematically map genetic interactions (GIs) in human HAP1 cells carrying a loss-of-function mutation in FASN, which catalyzes the formation of long-chain fatty acids. FASN mutant cells showed a strong dependence on lipid uptake that was reflected by negative GIs with genes involved in the LDL receptor pathway, vesicle trafficking, and protein glycosylation. Further support for these functional relationships was derived from additional GI screens in query cell lines deficient for other genes involved in lipid metabolism, including LDLR, SREBF1, SREBF2, ACACA. Our GI profiles identified a potential role for a previously uncharacterized gene LUR1 (C12orf49) in exogenous lipid uptake regulation. Overall, our data highlights the genetic determinants underlying the cellular adaptation associated with loss of de novo fatty acid synthesis and demonstrate the power of systematic GI mapping for uncovering metabolic buffering mechanisms in human cells.

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