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Fox Chase researchers discover new mechanism of gene regulation
Date:2/26/2014

ents is limited. Research has suggested that standard therapies combined with drugs that inhibit PARP1 can kill cancer cells, but clinical trials testing PARP1 inhibitors in cancer patients have produced disappointing outcomes. "I believe that to a large extent the previous setbacks were caused by a general misconception of the role of PARP1 in living cells and the mechanisms of PARP1 regulation," Tulin says. "Now that we know this mechanism of PARP1 regulation, we can design approaches to inhibit this protein in an effective way to better treat cancer."

The ability of PARP1 to control cellular processes is regulated by nucleosomesthe basic unit of DNA packaging, consisting of a segment of DNA wound in sequence around eight histone protein cores, similar to a thread wrapped around a spool. Histones undergo different chemical modifications that play an important role in regulating the activity of genes. Through this mechanism, histones control the ability of PARP1 to activate genes and repair DNA damage.

"This mechanism of PARP1 regulation by histones is still very new," Tulin says. "People believe that PARP1 is mainly activated through interactions with DNA, but we have found that the main pathway of PARP1 activation is through interactions with the nucleosome." In the new study, Tulin and his colleagues reevaluated how PARP1 is activated by changes in the nucleosome. They found that the addition of a phosphate group to a histonecalled H2Avtriggered the entire nucleosome to change shape, exposing previously hidden parts of the nucleosome that began to interact with and activate PARP1.

To follow up on these findings, Tulin and his team are now developing the next generation of PARP1 inhibitors. Designed to block the newly identified mechanism of PARP1 activation, these new inhibitors will specifically target PARP1, in contrast to the PARP1 inhibitors currently being tested in clinical trials.

"We expect that our targeted PARP1 inhi
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Contact: Diana Quattrone
Diana.Quattrone@fccc.edu
215-728-7784
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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