ATF6-mediated signaling contributes to PARP Inhibitor Resistance in Ovarian Cancer

Mol Cancer Res. 2022 Sep 23;MCR-22-0102. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-22-0102. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

High grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC) is the deadliest ovarian cancer histotype due in-part to the lack of therapeutic options for chemotherapy resistant disease. Poly(ADP)-ribose polymerase inhibitors (PARPi) represent a targeted treatment. However, PARPi resistance is becoming a significant clinical challenge. There is an urgent need to overcome resistance mechanisms to extend disease-free intervals. We established isogeneic PARPi-sensitive and -resistant HGSOC cell lines. In three PARPi-resistant models there is a significant increase in AP-1 transcriptional activity and DNA repair capacity. Using RNA-seq and an shRNA screen, we identified Activating Transcription Factor 6 (ATF6) as a mediator of AP-1 activity, DNA damage response, and PARPi resistance. In publicly available datasets, ATF6 expression is elevated in HGSOC and portends a poorer recurrence free survival. In a cohort of primary HGSOC tumors, higher ATF6 expression significantly correlated to PARPi resistance. In PARPi-resistant cell lines and a PDX model, inhibition of a known ATF6 regulator, p38, attenuated AP-1 activity and RAD51 foci formation, enhanced DNA damage, significantly inhibited tumor burden, and reduced accumulation of nuclear ATF6. Implications: This study highlights that a novel p38-ATF6 mediated AP-1 signaling axis contributes to PARPi resistance and provides a clinical rationale for combining PARPi and AP-1 signaling inhibitors.