Targeting DNA-PK and the DNA Damage Response via Small Molecule Ku Inhibitors

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Medicine and Health Sciences


The DNA dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) is a validated target for cancer therapeutics that drives the DNA damage response (DDR) and plays a critical role as a primary sensor in the non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) DNA double strand break (DSB) repair pathway. Various anti-cancer therapeutic strategies mediate their cytotoxic effects by inducing DSBs, inducing ionizing radiation (IR), and clinical outcomes are directly related to the repair of DNA damage. Modulating the pathway responsible for repairing DSBs will have a profound impact on the efficacy of DNA damaging agents in the clinic. To date, development of inhibitors for DNA-PK has focused on targeting the active site with ATP mimetics. We have taken the novel and innovative approach to inhibiting DNA-PK via blocking the Ku 70/80 heterodimer interaction with DNA, a necessary step in DNA-PK activation. Exploiting this unique mechanism of kinase activa-tion, we have identified a series of highly potent and specific DNA-PK inhibitors that impart their inhibitory activity via disruption of the binding of Ku protein to DNA ends. This novel approach affords significant advantages to current approaches in kinase inhibition. Novel derivatives of our initial hit inhibit DNA-PK catalytic activity at nanomo-lar concentrations and potentiate cellular sensitivity to DSB-inducing agents like etopo-side and bleomycin. Data demonstrate that the cellular effects observed are a function of Ku inhibition and that this novel class of DNA-PK inhibitors can be further developed as anti-cancer therapeutics that can be used as an adjuvant to, or concomitant with radiotherapy and other cancer therapies that induce DNA damage.


Copyright 2019 all authors

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