Acquisition of meiotic DNA repair regulators maintain genome stability in glioblastoma

Academic Article


  • Glioblastoma (GBM), the most prevalent type of primary intrinsic brain cancer in adults, remains universally fatal despite maximal therapy, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Cytotoxic therapy generates double-stranded DNA breaks (DSBs), most commonly repaired by homologous recombination (HR). We hypothesized that cancer cells coopt meiotic repair machinery as DSBs are generated during meiosis and repaired by molecular complexes distinct from genotoxic responses in somatic tissues. Indeed, we found that gliomas express meiotic repair genes and their expression informed poor prognosis. We interrogated the function of disrupted meiotic cDNA1 (DMC1), a homolog of RAD51, the primary recombinase used in mitotic cells to search and recombine with the homologous DNA template. DMC1, whose only known function is as an HR recombinase, was expressed by GBM cells and induced by radiation. Although targeting DMC1 in non-neoplastic cells minimally altered cell growth, DMC1 depletion in GBM cells decreased proliferation, induced activation of CHK1 and expression of p21CIP1/WAF1, and increased RPA foci, suggesting increased replication stress. Combining loss of DMC1 with ionizing radiation inhibited activation of DNA damage responses and increased radiosensitivity. Furthermore, loss of DMC1 reduced tumor growth and prolonged survival in vivo. Our results suggest that cancers coopt meiotic genes to augment survival under genotoxic stress, offering molecular targets with high therapeutic indices.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rivera M; Wu Q; Hamerlik P; Hjelmeland AB; Bao S; Rich JN
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 4