Sesquiterpene lactones potentiate olaparib-induced DNA damage in p53 wildtype cancer cells

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Abstract

Despite notable advances in utilising PARP inhibitor monotherapy, many cancers are not PARP inhibitor-sensitive or develop treatment resistance. In this work, we show that the two structurally related sesquiterpene lactones, 2-bromobenzyloxy derivative of dehydrosantonin (BdS) and alantolactone (ATL) sensitise p53 wildtype, homologous recombination-proficient cancer cells to low-dose treatment with the PARP inhibitor, olaparib. Exposure to combination treatments of olaparib with BdS or ATL induces cell-cycle changes, chromosomal instability, as well as considerable increases in nuclear area. Mechanistically, we uncover that mitotic errors likely depend on oxidative stress elicited by the electrophilic lactone warheads, and olaparib-mediated PARP-trapping, culminating in replication stress. Combination treatments exhibit moderately synergistic effects on cell survival, probably attenuated by a p53-mediated, protective cell-cycle arrest in the G2 cell-cycle phase. Indeed, using a WEE1 inhibitor, AZD1775, to inhibit the G2/M cell-cycle checkpoint further decreased cell survival. Around half of all cancers diagnosed retain p53 functionality, and this proportion could be expected to increase with improved diagnostic approaches in the clinic. Utilising sublethal oxidative stress to sensitise p53 wildtype, homologous recombination-proficient cancer cells to low-dose PARP-trapping could therefore serve as the basis for future research into the treatment of cancers currently refractory to PARP inhibition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Jan 2022

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