The majority of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDAC) rely on the mRNA stability factor HuR (ELAV-L1) to drive cancer growth and progression. Here, we show that CRISPR-Cas9-mediated silencing of the HuR locus increases the relative sensitivity of PDAC cells to PARP inhibitors (PARPi). PDAC cells treated with PARPi stimulated translocation of HuR from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, specifically promoting stabilization of a new target, poly (ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase (PARG) mRNA, by binding a unique sequence embedded in its 3' untranslated region. HuR-dependent upregulation of PARG expression facilitated DNA repair via hydrolysis of polyADP-ribose on related repair proteins. Accordingly, strategies to inhibit HuR directly promoted DNA damage accumulation, inefficient PAR removal, and persistent PARP-1 residency on chromatin (PARP-1 trapping). Immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that the PARP-1 protein binds and posttranslationally modifies HuR in PARPi-treated PDAC cells. In a mouse xenograft model of human PDAC, PARPi monotherapy combined with targeted silencing of HuR significantly reduced tumor growth compared with PARPi therapy alone. Our results highlight the HuR-PARG axis as an opportunity to enhance PARPi-based therapies. Cancer Res; 77(18); 5011-25. ©2017 AACR.
©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.