Precision cancer therapy: profiting from tumor specific defects in the DNA damage tolerance system

Oncotarget. 2018 Apr 10;9(27):18832-18843. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.24777.


DNA damage tolerance (DDT) enables replication to continue in the presence of a damaged template and constitutes a key step in DNA interstrand crosslink repair. In this way DDT minimizes replication stress inflicted by a wide range of endogenous and exogenous agents, and provides a critical first line defense against alkylating and platinating chemotherapeutics. Effective DDT strongly depends on damage-induced, site-specific PCNA-ubiquitination at Lysine (K) 164 by the E2/E3 complex (RAD6/18). A survey of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) revealed a high frequency of tumors presents RAD6/RAD18 bi-allelic inactivating deletions. For instance, 11% of renal cell carcinoma and 5% of pancreatic tumors have inactivating RAD18-deletions and 7% of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors lack RAD6B. To determine the potential benefit for tumor-specific DDT defects, we followed a genetic approach by establishing unique sets of DDT-proficient PcnaK164 and -defective PcnaK164R lymphoma and breast cancer cell lines. In the absence of exogenous DNA damage, PcnaK164R tumors grew comparably to their PcnaK164 controls in vitro and in vivo. However, DDT-defective lymphomas and breast cancers were compared to their DDT-proficient controls hypersensitive to the chemotherapeutic drug cisplatin (CsPt), both in vitro and in vivo. CsPt strongly inhibited tumor growth and the overall survival of tumor bearing mice greatly improved in the DDT-defective condition. These insights open new therapeutic possibilities for precision cancer medicine with DNA damaging chemotherapeutics and optimize Next-Generation-Sequencing (NGS)-based cancer-diagnostics, -therapeutics, and -prognosis.

Keywords: DNA damage tolerance; cancer target; chemotherapy; cisplatin; precision cancer medicine.