Poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1) inhibition is toxic to cells with mutations in the breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 or BRCA2, a concept termed synthetic lethality. However, whether this approach is applicable to other human cancers with defects in other DNA repair genes has yet to be determined. The ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) gene is altered in several human cancers including mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). Here, we characterize a panel of MCL cell lines for ATM status and function and investigate the potential for synthetic lethality in MCL in the presence of small-molecule inhibitors of PARP-1. We show that Granta-519 and UPN2 cells have low levels of ATM protein, are defective in DNA damage-induced ATM-dependent signaling, are radiation sensitive, and have cell cycle checkpoint defects: all characteristics of defective ATM function. Significantly, Granta-519 and UPN2 cells were more sensitive to PARP-1 inhibition than were the ATM-proficient MCL cell lines examined. Furthermore, the PARP-1 inhibitor olaparib (known previously as AZD2281/KU-0059436) significantly decreased tumor growth and increased overall survival in mice bearing s.c. xenografts of ATM-deficient Granta-519 cells while producing only a modest effect on overall survival of mice bearing xenografts of the ATM-proficient cell line, Z138. Thus, PARP inhibitors have therapeutic potential in the treatment of MCL, and the concept of synthetic lethality extends to human cancers with ATM alterations.
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