DNA repair inhibitors potentiate fractionated radiotherapy more than single-dose radiotherapy in breast cancer cells

Wen-Kyle Wong*, Francisco D. C. Guerra Liberal, Stephen J. McMahon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Pharmacological inhibitors of DNA damage response (DDR) proteins, such as the ataxia-telangiectasia mutated (ATM) and ataxia-telangiectasia and Rad3-related (ATR) kinases and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), have been developed to overcome tumor radioresistance. Despite demonstrating radiosensitization preclinically, they have performed suboptimally in clinical trials, possibly due to an incomplete understanding of the influence of DDR inhibition on ionizing radiation (IR) dose fractionation and sublethal damage repair. Hence, this study aimed to evaluate the radiosensitizing ability under fractionation of ATM inhibitor AZD0156, ATR inhibitor AZD6738 and PARP inhibitor AZD2281 (olaparib), utilizing MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Clonogenic assays were performed to assess cell survival and sublethal damage repair after treatment with DDR inhibitors and either single-dose or fractionated IR. Immunofluorescence microscopy was utilized to evaluate DNA double-strand break repair kinetics. Cell cycle distributions were investigated using flow cytometry. All inhibitors showed significant radiosensitization, which was significantly greater following fractionated IR than single-dose IR. They also led to more unrepaired DNA double-strand breaks at 24 h post-IR. This study provides preclinical evidence for the role of AZD0156, AZD6738 and olaparib as radiosensitizing agents. Still, it highlights the need to evaluate these drugs in fractionated settings mirroring clinical practice to optimize the trial design.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3794
Issue number15
Early online date04 Aug 2022
Publication statusEarly online date - 04 Aug 2022


  • fractionated radiotherapy
  • sublethal damage repair
  • radiosensitization
  • DDR inhibition
  • ATM
  • ATR
  • PARP
  • breast cancer


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