Background: Despite optimal multimodality therapy, non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) remains the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. A common limitation is our inability to provide sufficient radiotherapy (RT) to eradicate tumor due to risk of toxicities in surrounding tissues. There is thus an unmet need for radiosensitizers that can improve the therapeutic index. Dimethylaminoparthenolide (DMAPT), an orally bioavailable small molecule NF-κB inhibitor, inhibits repair of ionizing radiation (IR)-induced DNA double strand breaks (DSBs) and increases control of subcutaneous mouse NSCLC xenografts. While our prior work focused on inhibition of homologous recombination as a mechanism for radiosensitization, we sought to characterize the effect of DMAPT on a second major DSB repair pathway, non-homologous end-joining (NHEJ).

Methods: NHEJ was assessed in NSCLC lines using the pEJ reporter and flow cytometry. The NF-κB super repressor (IκBαS32A,S36A) was used as a control. Immunofluorescence and Western blotting were used to assess NHEJ biomarkers including 53BP1, DNA-PKS2056, Ku70/80 and XRCC4. Cell fractionation was performed to assess Ku chromatin binding. Quantitative RT-PCR was performed to assess gene transcription. Ku complexes were purified to identify binding partners.

Results: NSCLC cells treated with IR-sensitizing doses of DMAPT (5-15 μM) or the NF-κB super repressor showed significant decreases in NHEJ. DMAPT increased the persistence of 53BP1 foci, indicating a failure to complete NHEJ. Regardless of exogenous DNA damage, there was reduced Ku70 chromatin binding following DMAPT treatment. DMAPT-treated cells produced fewer distinct IR-induced DNA-PKS2056 foci. Further, there was decreased IR-induced XRCC4 chromatin recruitment, suggesting that repair was impaired prior to ligation. There was no change in Ku70/80 transcription following DMAPT and/or IR. However, Western blotting of purified Ku complexes showed that DMAPT treatment decreased Ku association with RNA binding partners including RPL19. We also observed decreased recruitment of DNA-PKcs to the Ku complex, suggesting decreased Ku affinity for DSBs.

Conclusions: These results indicate that DMAPT radiosensitizes NSCLC by perturbing the binding affinity of Ku to RNA, DNA and its complex binding partners, thus blocking NHEJ. Further mechanistic investigation and analysis of NHEJ biomarkers in vivo is needed to identify the precise mechanism.

Citation Format: Peter V. Deraska, Colin O’Leary, Jean-Bernard Lazaro, Christopher J. Sweeney, Alan D. D’Andrea, David Kozono. NF-κB inhibitor DMAPT blocks non-homologous end-joining repair of radiation-induced DSBs in NSCLC. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2016 Apr 16-20; New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract nr 1644.