BRCA mutations and PARP inhibitors
Introduction. The breast cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 were originally identified as the genetic source of familial breast cancer 1,2 and have since been used to identify one’s own risk of breast cancer development. Carriers of BRCA1 mutations have a 72% chance of developing breast cancer; 69% chance for BRCA2 carriers. Subsequently, BRCA1 & 2 protein:protein interactions with DNA repair factors were identified and characterized, thus associating these mutations with DNA repair deficits 3,4. An overlap of DNA lesions produced in Poly ADP Ribose Polymerase (PARP)-deficient cells and similar unrepaired lesions in BRCA-mutant cells 5-7 lead to the development of PARP inhibitors (PARPi) as BRCA therapies8,9. Initial success lead to rapid clinical approval10, though instances of PARPi resistance emerged 11. Studies have now further analyzed the molecular mechanisms of PARPi’s role in targeting BRCA mutations and in the development of resistance12-15. Methods In further elucidating the mechanism of resistance development, 3 approaches were used to identify molecular “networks” involved: an siRNA library, CRISPR-Cas9 knock-out library, and a proteomics/pulldown strategy 12,15-19. Results Using a siRNA-knock-down library, inhibiting expression of REV1 was found to diminish PARPi sensitivity in BRCA1 cells 12,17. Lack of REV1 was found to restore the initiating step (DNA end resection) of DNA repair via homologous recombination. A CRISPR-Cas9 knock-out library was used to further expand on the REV1 network, finding it to be part of a larger SHIELDIN complex which appears to protect (“shield”) DNA ends from resection 18,19. Independently, a proteomics approach involving isolating proteins-of-interest and identifying co-purified interacting proteins, also identified the SHIELDIN complex as involved in DNA-end processing 16. With respect to BRCA2-PARPi resistance, a CRISPR-Cas9 knock-out library found that knock-out of RNaseH re-introduced PARPi sensitivity15. Further investigation revealed that RNaseH2 and Topoisomerase 1 (TopI) both remove aberrant incorporation of ribonucleotides throughout the genome, but TopI is dependent on PARP1 activity. Thus, knocking-out RNaseH2 leaves the removal of these misincorporated ribonucleotides dependent on a PARP1-susceptible pathway. Conclusions The susceptibility of BRCA1 mutations to PARPi can be overcome by subsequent acquired mutation in factors the protect broken DNA ends from nucleolytic processing. The Shieldin complex was identified as a molecular component protecting DNA ends, likely from aberrant processing. Also, PARP inhibitors function not only in blocking the sealing of single strand breaks/nicks (which lead to double strand breaks when encountered by replication forks), but also by producing persistent TOP1-DNA adducts (also leading to dsDNA breaks).
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