Identification of specific inhibitors of human RAD51 recombinase using high-throughput screening

ACS Chem Biol. 2011 Jun 17;6(6):628-35. doi: 10.1021/cb100428c. Epub 2011 Mar 23.


RAD51 is a key protein of homologous recombination that plays a critical role in the repair of DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) and interstrand cross-links (ICL). To better understand the cellular function(s) of human RAD51, we propose to develop specific RAD51 inhibitors. RAD51 inhibitors may also help to increase the potency of anticancer drugs that act by inducing DSBs or ICLs, e.g., cisplatin or ionizing radiation. In vitro, RAD51 promotes DNA strand exchange between homologous ss- and dsDNA. Here, we developed a DNA strand exchange assay based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer and used this assay to identify RAD51 inhibitors by high-throughput screening of the NIH Small Molecule Repository (>200,000 compounds). Seventeen RAD51 inhibitors were identified and analyzed for selectivity using additional nonfluorescent DNA-based assays. As a result, we identified a compound (B02) that specifically inhibited human RAD51 (IC(50) = 27.4 μM) but not its E. coli homologue RecA (IC(50) > 250 μM). Two other compounds (A03 and A10) were identified that inhibited both RAD51 and RecA but not the structurally unrelated RAD54 protein. The structure-activity relationship (SAR) analysis allowed us to identify the structural components of B02 that are critical for RAD51 inhibition. The described approach can be used for identification of specific inhibitors of other human proteins that play an important role in DNA repair, e.g., RAD54 or Bloom's syndrome helicase.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Quinazolinones / chemistry
  • Quinazolinones / pharmacology*
  • Rad51 Recombinase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Rad51 Recombinase / metabolism
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Quinazolinones
  • Small Molecule Libraries
  • RAD51 protein, human
  • Rad51 Recombinase