Proteomic, cellular and biochemical analysis of the stress protein NUPR1 reveals that it binds to PARP1 into the nucleus and inhibits PARP1 activity in vitro. Mutations on residues Ala33 or Thr68 of NUPR1 or treatment with its inhibitor ZZW-115 inhibits this effect. PARylation induced by 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) treatment is strongly enhanced by ZZW-115 and associated with a decrease of NAD+/NADH ratio and rescued by the PARP inhibitor olaparib. Cell death induced by ZZW-115 treatment of pancreas cancer-derived cells is rescued by olaparib and improved with PARG inhibitor PDD00017273. The mitochondrial catastrophe induced by ZZW-115 treatment or by genetic inactivation of NUPR1 is associated to a hyperPARylation of the mitochondria, disorganization of the mitochondrial network, mitochondrial membrane potential decrease, and with increase of superoxide production, intracellular level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cytosolic levels of Ca2+. These features are rescued by olaparib or NAD+ precursor nicotinamide mononucleotide in a dose-dependent manner and partially by antioxidants treatments. In conclusion, inactivation of NUPR1 induces a hyperPARylation, which in turn, induces a mitochondrial catastrophe and consequently a cell death through a non-canonical Parthanatos, since apoptosis inducing-factor (AIF) is not translocated out of the mitochondria.
© 2022. The Author(s).