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This article is the author's final published version in Nature Communications, Volume 14, Issue 1, 2023, Article number 7714.

The published version is available at Copyright © The Author(s) 2023.


Homologous recombination (HR)-deficiency induces a dependency on DNA polymerase theta (Polθ/Polq)-mediated end joining, and Polθ inhibitors (Polθi) are in development for cancer therapy. BRCA1 and BRCA2 deficient cells are thought to be synthetic lethal with Polθ, but whether distinct HR gene mutations give rise to equivalent Polθ-dependence, and the events that drive lethality, are unclear. In this study, we utilized mouse models with separate Brca1 functional defects to mechanistically define Brca1-Polθ synthetic lethality. Surprisingly, homozygous Brca1 mutant, Polq−/− cells were viable, but grew slowly and had chromosomal instability. Brca1 mutant cells proficient in DNA end resection were significantly more dependent on Polθ for viability; here, treatment with Polθi elevated RPA foci, which persisted through mitosis. In an isogenic system, BRCA1 null cells were defective, but PALB2 and BRCA2 mutant cells exhibited active resection, and consequently stronger sensitivity to Polθi. Thus, DNA end resection is a critical determinant of Polθi sensitivity in HR-deficient cells, and should be considered when selecting patients for clinical studies.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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