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Cancer Res. 2017 Sep 1;77(17):4567-4578. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-3389. Epub 2017 Jul 11.

APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B Activities Render Cancer Cells Susceptible to ATR Inhibition.

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Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


The apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B have emerged as key mutation drivers in cancer. Here, we show that APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B activities impose a unique type of replication stress by inducing abasic sites at replication forks. In contrast to cells under other types of replication stress, APOBEC3A-expressing cells were selectively sensitive to ATR inhibitors (ATRi), but not to a variety of DNA replication inhibitors and DNA-damaging drugs. In proliferating cells, APOBEC3A modestly elicited ATR but not ATM. ATR inhibition in APOBEC3A-expressing cells resulted in a surge of abasic sites at replication forks, revealing an ATR-mediated negative feedback loop during replication. The surge of abasic sites upon ATR inhibition associated with increased accumulation of single-stranded DNA, a substrate of APOBEC3A, triggering an APOBEC3A-driven feed-forward loop that ultimately drove cells into replication catastrophe. In a panel of cancer cell lines, ATRi selectively induced replication catastrophe in those harboring high APOBEC3A and/or APOBEC3B activities, showing that APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B activities conferred susceptibility to ATRi. Our results define an APOBEC-driven replication stress in cancer cells that may offer an opportunity for ATR-targeted therapy. Cancer Res; 77(17); 4567-78. ©2017 AACR.

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