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Oncogene. 2012 Jan 12;31(2):251-64. doi: 10.1038/onc.2011.229. Epub 2011 Jun 27.

NF-κB mediates radio-sensitization by the PARP-1 inhibitor, AG-014699.

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Newcastle Cancer Centre at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University, Tyneside, UK.


The stress-inducible transcription factor, nuclear factor (NF)-κB induces genes involved in proliferation and apoptosis. Aberrant NF-κB activity is common in cancer and contributes to therapeutic-resistance. Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) is activated during DNA strand break repair and is a known transcriptional co-regulator. Here, we investigated the role of PARP-1 function during NF-κB activation using p65 small interfering RNA (siRNA), PARP siRNA or the potent PARP-1 inhibitor, AG-014699. Survival and apoptosis assays showed that NF-κB p65(-/-) cells were more sensitive to ionizing radiation (IR) than p65(+/+) cells. Co-incubation with p65 siRNA, PARP siRNA or AG-014699 radio-sensitized p65(+/+), but not p65(-/-) cells, demonstrating that PARP-1 mediates its effects on survival via NF-κB. Single-strand break (SSB) repair kinetics, and the effect SSB repair inhibition by AG-014699 were similar in p65(+/+) and p65(-/-) cells. As preventing SSB repair did not radio-sensitize p65(-/-) cells, we conclude that radio-sensitization by AG-014699 is due to downstream inhibition of NF-κB activation, and independent of SSB repair inhibition. PARP-1 catalytic activity was essential for IR-induced p65 DNA binding and NF-κB-dependent gene transcription, whereas for tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α-treated cells, PARP-1 protein alone was sufficient. We hypothesize that this stimulus-dependent differential is mediated via stimulation of the poly(ADP-ribose) polymer, which was induced following IR, not TNF-α. Targeting DNA damage-activated NF-κB using AG-014699 may therefore overcome toxicity observed with classical NF-κB inhibitors without compromising other vital inflammatory functions. These data highlight the potential of PARP-1 inhibitors to overcome NF-κB-mediated therapeutic resistance and widens the spectrum of cancers in which these agents may be utilized.

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