TGFβR-SMAD3 Signaling Induces Resistance to PARP Inhibitors in the Bone Marrow Microenvironment

Cell Rep. 2020 Oct 6;33(1):108221. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108221.


Synthetic lethality triggered by PARP inhibitor (PARPi) yields promising therapeutic results. Unfortunately, tumor cells acquire PARPi resistance, which is usually associated with the restoration of homologous recombination, loss of PARP1 expression, and/or loss of DNA double-strand break (DSB) end resection regulation. Here, we identify a constitutive mechanism of resistance to PARPi. We report that the bone marrow microenvironment (BMM) facilitates DSB repair activity in leukemia cells to protect them against PARPi-mediated synthetic lethality. This effect depends on the hypoxia-induced overexpression of transforming growth factor beta receptor (TGFβR) kinase on malignant cells, which is activated by bone marrow stromal cells-derived transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1). Genetic and/or pharmacological targeting of the TGF-β1-TGFβR kinase axis results in the restoration of the sensitivity of malignant cells to PARPi in BMM and prolongs the survival of leukemia-bearing mice. Our finding may lead to the therapeutic application of the TGFβR inhibitor in patients receiving PARPis.

Keywords: PARP inhibitor resistance; TGFβR signaling; bone marrow microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Smad3 Protein / metabolism*
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Poly(ADP-ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • SMAD3 protein, human
  • Smad3 Protein