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ATR inhibition potentiates parp inhibitor cytotoxicity in high risk neuroblastoma cell lines by multiple mechanisms

Lookup NU author(s): Harriet Southgate, Dr Lindi Chen, Professor Deborah Tweddle, Professor Nicola CurtinORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.Background: High risk neuroblastoma (HR-NB) is one the most difficult childhood cancers to cure. These tumours frequently present with DNA damage response (DDR) defects including loss or mutation of key DDR genes, oncogene-induced replication stress (RS) and cell cycle checkpoint dysfunction. Aim: To identify biomarkers of sensitivity to inhibition of Ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3 related (ATR), a DNA damage sensor, and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), which is required for single strand break repair. We also hypothesise that combining ATR and PARP inhibition is synergistic. Methods: Single agent sensitivity to VE-821 (ATR inhibitor) and olaparib (PARP inhibitor), and the combination, was determined using cell proliferation and clonogenic assays, in HR-NB cell lines. Basal expression of DDR proteins, including ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and ATR, was assessed using Western blotting. CHK1S345 and H2AXS129 phosphorylation was assessed using Western blotting to determine ATR activity and RS, respectively. RS and homologous recombination repair (HRR) activity was also measured by γH2AX and Rad51 foci formation using immunofluorescence. Results: MYCN amplification and/or low ATM protein expression were associated with sensitivity to VE-821 (p < 0.05). VE-821 was synergistic with olaparib (CI value 0.04–0.89) independent of MYCN or ATM status. Olaparib increased H2AXS129 phosphorylation which was further increased by VE-821. Olaparib-induced Rad51 foci formation was reduced by VE-821 suggesting inhibition of HRR. Conclusion: RS associated with MYCN amplification, ATR loss or PARP inhibition increases sensitivity to the ATR inhibitor VE-821. These findings suggest a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of HR-NB.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Southgate HED, Chen L, Tweddle DA, Curtin NJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cancers

Year: 2020

Volume: 12

Issue: 5

Online publication date: 28/04/2020

Acceptance date: 23/04/2020

Date deposited: 11/05/2020

ISSN (print): 2072-6694

ISSN (electronic): 2072-6694

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/cancers12051095


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