The ATR/Chk1 pathway is a critical surveillance network that maintains genomic integrity during DNA replication by stabilizing the replication forks during normal replication to avoid replication stress. One of the many differences between normal cells and cancer cells is the amount of replication stress that occurs during replication. Cancer cells with activated oncogenes generate increased levels of replication stress. This creates an increased dependency on the ATR/Chk1 pathway in cancer cells and opens up an opportunity to preferentially kill cancer cells by inhibiting this pathway. In support of this idea, we have identified a small molecule termed HAMNO ((1Z)-1-[(2-hydroxyanilino)methylidene]naphthalen-2-one), a novel protein interaction inhibitor of replication protein A (RPA), a protein involved in the ATR/Chk1 pathway. HAMNO selectively binds the N-terminal domain of RPA70, effectively inhibiting critical RPA protein interactions that rely on this domain. HAMNO inhibits both ATR autophosphorylation and phosphorylation of RPA32 Ser33 by ATR. By itself, HAMNO treatment creates DNA replication stress in cancer cells that are already experiencing replication stress, but not in normal cells, and it acts synergistically with etoposide to kill cancer cells in vitro and slow tumor growth in vivo. Thus, HAMNO illustrates how RPA inhibitors represent candidate therapeutics for cancer treatment, providing disease selectivity in cancer cells by targeting their differential response to replication stress.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research