Melanoma cells replicate through chemotherapy by reducing levels of key homologous recombination protein RAD51 and increasing expression of translesion synthesis DNA Polymerase ζ

Liang Song, Ewan M. McNeil, Ann-Marie Ritchie, Katy R Astell, Charlie Gourley, David W. Melton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The global incidence of melanoma has been increasing faster than any other form of cancer. New therapies offer exciting prospects for improved survival, but the development of resistance is a major problem and there remains a need for additional effective melanoma therapy. Platinum compounds, such as cisplatin, are the most effective chemotherapeutics for a number of major cancers, but are ineffective on metastatic melanoma. They cause monofunctional adducts and intrastrand crosslinks that are repaired by nucleotide excision repair, as well as the more toxic interstrand crosslinks that are repaired by a combination of nuclease activity and homologous recombination.
Methods: We investigated the mechanism of melanoma resistance to cisplatin using a panel of melanoma and control cell lines. Cisplatin-induced changes in levels of the key homologous recombination protein RAD51 and compensatory changes in translesion synthesis DNA polymerases were identified by western blotting and qRTPCR. Flow cytometry, immunofluorescence and western blotting were used to compare the cell cycle and DNA damage response and the induction of apoptosis in cisplatin-treated melanoma and control cells. Ectopic
expression of a tagged form of RAD51 and siRNA knockdown of translesion synthesis DNA polymerase zeta were used to investigate the mechanism that allowed cisplatin-treated melanoma cells to continue to replicate.
Results: We have identified and characterised a novel DNA damage response mechanism in melanoma. Instead of increasing levels of RAD51 on encountering cisplatin-induced interstrand crosslinks during replication, melanoma cells shut down RAD51 synthesis and instead boost levels of translesion synthesis DNA
polymerase zeta to allow replication to proceed. This response also resulted in synthetic lethality to the PARP inhibitor olaparib.
Conclusions: This unusual DNA damage response may be a more appropriate strategy for an aggressive and
rapidly growing tumour like melanoma that enables it to better survive chemotherapy, but also results in
increased sensitivity of cultured melanoma cells to the PARP inhibitor olaparib.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Cancer
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Melanoma
  • chemotherapy
  • cisplatin
  • DNA repiar
  • RAD51
  • translesion synthesis
  • DNA polymerase zeta
  • synthetic lethality
  • PARP inhibitor

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