Targeting Chromosomal Architectural HMGB Proteins Could Be the Next Frontier in Cancer Therapy

Cancer Res. 2020 Jun 1;80(11):2075-2082. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-19-3066. Epub 2020 Mar 9.


Chromatin-associated architectural proteins are part of a fundamental support system for cellular DNA-dependent processes and can maintain/modulate the efficiency of DNA replication, transcription, and DNA repair. Interestingly, prognostic outcomes of many cancer types have been linked with the expression levels of several of these architectural proteins. The high mobility group box (HMGB) architectural protein family has been well studied in this regard. The differential expression levels of HMGB proteins and/or mRNAs and their implications in cancer etiology and prognosis present the potential of novel targets that can be explored to increase the efficacy of existing cancer therapies. HMGB1, the most studied member of the HMGB protein family, has pleiotropic roles in cells including an association with nucleotide excision repair, base excision repair, mismatch repair, and DNA double-strand break repair. Moreover, the HMGB proteins have been identified in regulating DNA damage responses and cell survival following treatment with DNA-damaging agents and, as such, may play roles in modulating the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs by modulating DNA repair pathways. Here, we discuss the functions of HMGB proteins in DNA damage processing and their potential roles in cancer etiology, prognosis, and therapeutics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosomes
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair
  • HMGB Proteins / genetics*
  • HMGB Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • HMGB Proteins