Mechanistic Rationale to Target PTEN-Deficient Tumor Cells with Inhibitors of the DNA Damage Response Kinase ATM

Nuala McCabe, Conor Hanna, Steven M. Walker, David Gonda, Jie Li, Katarina Wikstrom, Kienan I. Savage, Karl T. Butterworth, Clark Chen, D. Paul Harkin, Kevin M. Prise, Richard D. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
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Ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) is an important signaling molecule in the DNA damage response (DDR). ATM loss of function can produce a synthetic lethal phenotype in combination with tumor-associated mutations in FA/BRCA pathway components. In this study, we took an siRNA screening strategy to identify other tumor suppressors that, when inhibited, similarly sensitized cells to ATM inhibition. In this manner, we determined that PTEN and ATM were synthetically lethal when jointly inhibited. PTEN-deficient cells exhibited elevated levels of reactive oxygen species, increased endogenous DNA damage, and constitutive ATM activation. ATM inhibition caused catastrophic DNA damage, mitotic cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis specifically in PTEN-deficient cells in comparison with wild-type cells. Antioxidants abrogated the increase in DNA damage and ATM activation in PTEN-deficient cells, suggesting a requirement for oxidative DNA damage in the mechanism of cell death. Lastly, the ATM inhibitor KU-60019 was specifically toxic to PTEN mutant cancer cells in tumor xenografts and reversible by reintroduction of wild-type PTEN. Together, our results offer a mechanistic rationale for clinical evaluation of ATM inhibitors in PTEN-deficient tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2159-2165
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number11
Early online date13 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2015


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