Targeting the RNA Polymerase I Transcription for Cancer Therapy Comes of Age

Rita Ferreira, John S Schneekloth, Konstantin I Panov, Katherine M Hannan, Ross D Hannan

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Abstract

Transcription of the ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) that encode the three largest ribosomal RNAs (rRNA), is mediated by RNA Polymerase I (Pol I) and is a key regulatory step for ribosomal biogenesis. Although it has been reported over a century ago that the number and size of nucleoli, the site of ribosome biogenesis, are increased in cancer cells, the significance of this observation for cancer etiology was not understood. The realization that the increase in rRNA expression has an active role in cancer progression, not only through increased protein synthesis and thus proliferative capacity but also through control of cellular check points and chromatin structure, has opened up new therapeutic avenues for the treatment of cancer through direct targeting of Pol I transcription. In this review, we discuss the rational of targeting Pol I transcription for the treatment of cancer; review the current cancer therapeutics that target Pol I transcription and discuss the development of novel Pol I-specific inhibitors, their therapeutic potential, challenges and future prospects.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCells
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes

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