AZD6738, A Novel Oral Inhibitor of ATR, Induces Synthetic Lethality with ATM Deficiency in Gastric Cancer Cells

Ataxia telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) can be considered an attractive target for cancer treatment due to its deleterious effect on cancer cells harboring a homologous recombination defect. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential use of the ATR inhibitor, AZD6738, to treat gastric cancer.In SNU-601 cells with dysfunctional ATM, AZD6738 treatment led to an accumulation of DNA damage due to dysfunctional RAD51 foci formation, S phase arrest, and caspase 3-dependent apoptosis. In contrast, SNU-484 cells with functional ATM were not sensitive to AZD6738. Inhibition of ATM in SNU-484 cells enhanced AZD6738 sensitivity to a level comparable with that observed in SNU-601 cells, showing that activation of the ATM-Chk2 signaling pathway attenuates AZD6738 sensitivity. In addition, decreased HDAC1 expression was found to be associated with ATM inactivation in SNU-601 cells, demonstrating the interaction between HDAC1 and ATM can affect sensitivity to AZD6738. Furthermore, in an in vivo tumor xenograft mouse model, AZD6738 significantly suppressed tumor growth and increased apoptosis.These findings suggest synthetic lethality between ATR inhibition and ATM deficiency in gastric cancer cells. Further clinical studies on the interaction between AZD 6738 and ATM deficiency are warranted to develop novel treatment strategies for gastric cancer. 

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