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Combined PARP and ATR inhibition potentiates genome instability and cell death in ATM-deficient cancer cells

The poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor olaparib is FDA approved for the treatment of BRCA-mutated breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Olaparib inhibits PARP1/2 enzymatic activity and traps PARP1 on DNA at single-strand breaks, leading to replication-induced DNA damage that requires BRCA1/2-dependent homologous recombination repair. Moreover, DNA damage response pathways mediated by the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and ataxia-telangiectasia mutated and Rad3-related (ATR) kinases are hypothesised to be important survival pathways in response to PARP-inhibitor treatment. Here, we show that olaparib combines synergistically with the ATR-inhibitor AZD6738 (ceralasertib), in vitro, leading to selective cell death in ATM-deficient cells. We observe that 24 h olaparib treatment causes cells to accumulate in G2-M of the cell cycle, however, co-administration with AZD6738 releases the olaparib-treated cells from G2 arrest. Selectively in ATM-knockout cells, we show that combined olaparib/AZD6738 treatment induces more chromosomal aberrations and achieves this at lower concentrations and earlier treatment time-points than either monotherapy. Furthermore, single-agent olaparib efficacy in vitro requires PARP inhibition throughout multiple rounds of replication. Here, we demonstrate in several ATM-deficient cell lines that the olaparib and AZD6738 combination induces cell death within 1-2 cell divisions, suggesting that combined treatment could circumvent the need for prolonged drug exposure. Finally, we demonstrate in vivo combination activity of olaparib and AZD6738 in xenograft and PDX mouse models with complete ATM loss. Collectively, these data provide a mechanistic understanding of combined PARP and ATR inhibition in ATM-deficient models, and support the clinical development of AZD6738 in combination with olaparib.

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Cat.No. Product Name Information Publications Customer Product Validation
S7693 Ceralasertib (AZD6738) Ceralasertib (AZD6738) is an orally active, and selective ATR kinase inhibitor with IC50 of 1 nM. Phase 1/2. (39) (4)

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