DNA repair dysregulation from cancer driver to therapeutic target

Nat Rev Cancer. 2012 Dec;12(12):801-17. doi: 10.1038/nrc3399.


Dysregulation of DNA damage repair and signalling to cell cycle checkpoints, known as the DNA damage response (DDR), is associated with a predisposition to cancer and affects responses to DNA-damaging anticancer therapy. Dysfunction of one DNA repair pathway may be compensated for by the function of another compensatory DDR pathway, which may be increased and contribute to resistance to DNA-damaging chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Therefore, DDR pathways make an ideal target for therapeutic intervention; first, to prevent or reverse therapy resistance; and second, using a synthetic lethal approach to specifically kill cancer cells that are dependent on a compensatory DNA repair pathway for survival in the context of cancer-associated oxidative and replicative stress. These hypotheses are currently being tested in the laboratory and are being translated into clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / genetics
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair* / drug effects
  • Homologous Recombination
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers