The DNA base excision repair protein Ape1/Ref-1 as a therapeutic and chemopreventive target

Mol Aspects Med. Jun-Aug 2007;28(3-4):375-95. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2007.04.005. Epub 2007 May 3.


With our growing understanding of the pathways involved in cell proliferation and signaling, targeted therapies, in the treatment of cancer are entering the clinical arena. New and emerging targets are proteins involved in DNA repair pathways. Inhibition of various proteins in the DNA repair pathways sensitizes cancer cells to DNA damaging agents such as chemotherapy and/or radiation. We study the apurinic endonuclease 1/redox factor-1 (Ape1/Ref-1) and believe that its crucial function in DNA repair and reduction-oxidation or redox signaling make it an excellent target for sensitizing tumor cells to chemotherapy. Ape1/Ref-1 is an essential enzyme in the base excision repair (BER) pathway which is responsible for the repair of DNA caused by oxidative and alkylation damage. As importantly, Ape1/Ref-1 also functions as a redox factor maintaining transcription factors in an active reduced state. Ape1/Ref-1 stimulates the DNA binding activity of numerous transcription factors that are involved in cancer promotion and progression such as AP-1 (Fos/Jun), NFkappaB, HIF-1alpha, CREB, p53 and others. We will discuss what is known regarding the pharmacological targeting of the DNA repair activity, as well as the redox activity of Ape1/Ref-1, and explore the budding clinical utility of inhibition of either of these functions in cancer treatment. A brief discussion of the effect of polymorphisms in its DNA sequence is included because of Ape1/Ref-1's importance to maintenance and integrity of the genome. Experimental modification of Ape1/Ref-1 activity changes the response of cells and of organisms to DNA damaging agents, suggesting that Ape1/Ref-1 may also be a productive target of chemoprevention. In this review, we will provide an overview of Ape1/Ref-1's activities and explore the potential of this protein as a target in cancer treatment as well as its role in chemoprevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Benzoquinones / metabolism
  • Carboxylic Acids / chemistry
  • Carboxylic Acids / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair*
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / genetics
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylamines / metabolism
  • Isoflavones / metabolism
  • Lucanthone / metabolism
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Propionates / metabolism
  • Resveratrol
  • Stilbenes / metabolism


  • Benzoquinones
  • Carboxylic Acids
  • Hydroxylamines
  • Isoflavones
  • Propionates
  • Stilbenes
  • E 3330
  • methoxyamine
  • APEX1 protein, human
  • DNA-(Apurinic or Apyrimidinic Site) Lyase
  • Lucanthone
  • Resveratrol