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Oncogene. 2010 Jan 21;29(3):463-8. doi: 10.1038/onc.2009.327. Epub 2009 Oct 19.

Cells deficient in the base excision repair protein, DNA polymerase beta, are hypersensitive to oxaliplatin chemotherapy.

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Cancer Research UK-Medical Research Council Gray Institute for Radiation Oncology & Biology, University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxon OX37DQ, UK.


A significant proportion of human cancers overexpress DNA polymerase beta (Pol beta), the major DNA polymerase involved in base excision repair. The underlying mechanism and biological consequences of overexpression of this protein are unknown. We examined whether Pol beta, expressed at levels found in tumor cells, is involved in the repair of DNA damage induced by oxaliplatin treatment and whether the expression status of this protein alters the sensitivity of cells to oxaliplatin. DNA damage induced by oxaliplatin treatment of HCT116 and HT29 colon cancer cells was observed to be associated with the stabilization of Pol beta protein on chromatin. In comparison with HCT116 colon cancer cells, isogenic oxaliplatin-resistant (HCT-OR) cells were found to have higher constitutive levels of Pol beta protein, faster in vitro repair of a DNA substrate containing a single nucleotide gap and faster repair of 1,2-GG oxaliplatin adduct levels in cells. In HCT-OR cells, small interfering RNA knockdown of Pol beta delayed the repair of oxaliplatin-induced DNA damage. In a different model system, Pol beta-deficient fibroblasts were less able to repair 1,2-GG oxaliplatin adducts and were hypersensitive to oxaliplatin treatment compared with isogenic Pol beta-expressing cells. Consistent with previous studies, Pol beta-deficient mouse fibroblasts were not hypersensitive to cisplatin treatment. These data provide the first link between oxaliplatin sensitivity and DNA repair involving Pol beta. They demonstrate that Pol beta modulates the sensitivity of cells to oxaliplatin treatment.

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