Potentiation of temozolomide cytotoxicity by inhibition of DNA polymerase β is accentuated by BRCA2 mutation

Gregory C. Stachelek, Shibani Dalal, Katherine A. Donigan, Denise Campisi Hegan, Joann B. Sweasy, Peter M. Glazer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Base excision repair (BER) plays a critical role in the repair of bases damaged by oxidative metabolism or alkylating agents, such as those commonly used in cancer therapy. Incomplete BER generates intermediates that require activation of homology-dependent DNA repair to resolve. We investigated the effects of lithocholic acid (LCA), an inhibitor of the key BER enzyme DNA polymerase β (pol β), in cells deficient in expression of the homology-dependent repair factor BRCA2. In vitro studies show that LCA suppresses the DNA polymerase and 5′-deoxyribose phosphate lyase activities of DNA pol β by preventing the formation of a stable pol β-DNA complex, reducing BER effectiveness. Cytotoxicity assays based on colony formation revealed that LCA exhibits synergism with the alkylating agent temozolomide, which engages BER through DNA methylation, and that the degree of synergism is increased in cells lacking functional BRCA2. BRCA2-deficient cells also showed heightened susceptibility to both LCA and temozolomide individually. The potentiation of temozolomide cytotoxicity by LCA owes to the conversion of single-stranded DNA breaks generated through incomplete BER of methylated nucleotides into double-stranded breaks during DNA replication, as indicated by γH2AX immunofluorescence. Death seems to be induced in cotreated cells through an accumulation of persistent double-stranded DNA breaks. Mutations of the BRCA2 gene have been extensively characterized and are present in various cancers, implying that inhibition of BER may offer a means to augment tumor selectivity in the use of conventional cancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-417
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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