Analysis of PARP inhibitor toxicity by multidimensional fluorescence microscopy reveals mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance

Nat Commun. 2018 Jul 11;9(1):2678. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05031-9.


Exploiting the full potential of anti-cancer drugs necessitates a detailed understanding of their cytotoxic effects. While standard omics approaches are limited to cell population averages, emerging single cell techniques currently lack throughput and are not applicable for compound screens. Here, we employed a versatile and sensitive high-content microscopy-based approach to overcome these limitations and quantify multiple parameters of cytotoxicity at the single cell level and in a cell cycle resolved manner. Applied to PARP inhibitors (PARPi) this approach revealed an S-phase-specific DNA damage response after only 15 min, quantitatively differentiated responses to several clinically important PARPi, allowed for cell cycle resolved analyses of PARP trapping, and predicted conditions of PARPi hypersensitivity and resistance. The approach illuminates cellular mechanisms of drug synergism and, through a targeted multivariate screen, could identify a functional interaction between PARPi olaparib and NEDD8/SCF inhibition, which we show is dependent on PARP1 and linked to PARP1 trapping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / genetics
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • Drug Resistance / drug effects*
  • Drug Resistance / genetics
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • Phthalazines / pharmacology*
  • Piperazines / pharmacology*
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / genetics
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases / metabolism
  • RNA Interference
  • Time-Lapse Imaging / methods


  • Phthalazines
  • Piperazines
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerases
  • olaparib