BRCA1-mediated dual regulation of ferroptosis exposes a vulnerability to GPX4 and PARP co-inhibition in BRCA1-deficient cancers

Cancer Discov. 2024 Mar 28. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-23-1220. Online ahead of print.


Resistance to poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors (PARPi) limits the therapeutic efficacy of PARP inhibition in treating breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 (BRCA1)-deficient cancers. Here we reveal that BRCA1 has a dual role in regulating ferroptosis. BRCA1 promotes the transcription of voltage-dependent anion channel 3 (VDAC3) and glutathione peroxidase 4 (GPX4); consequently, BRCA1 deficiency promotes cellular resistance to erastin-induced ferroptosis but sensitizes cancer cells to ferroptosis induced by GPX4 inhibitors (GPX4i). In addition, nuclear receptor coactivator 4 (NCOA4)-mediated ferritinophagy and defective GPX4 induction unleash potent ferroptosis in BRCA1-deficient cancer cells upon PARPi and GPX4i co-treatment. Finally, we show that xenograft tumors derived from BRCA1-mutant breast cancer patients with PARPi resistance exhibit decreased GPX4 expression and high sensitivity to PARP and GPX4 co-inhibition. Our results show that BRCA1 deficiency induces a ferroptosis vulnerability to PARP and GPX4 co-inhibition and inform a therapeutic strategy for overcoming PARPi resistance in BRCA1-deficient cancers.