Clinical use and mechanisms of resistance for PARP inhibitors in homologous recombination-deficient cancers

Dawn C. Janysek, Jennifer Kim, Pascal H.G. Duijf, Eloïse Dray

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Cells are continuously subjected to DNA damaging agents. DNA damages are repaired by one of the many pathways guarding genomic integrity. When one or several DNA damage pathways are rendered inefficient, cells can accumulate mutations, which modify normal cellular pathways, favoring abnormal cell growth. This supports malignant transformation, which can occur when cells acquire resistance to cell cycle checkpoints, apoptosis, or growth inhibition signals. Mutations in genes involved in the repair of DNA double strand breaks (DSBs), such as BRCA1, BRCA2, or PALB2, significantly increase the risk of developing cancer of the breast, ovaries, pancreas, or prostate. Fortunately, the inability of these tumors to repair DNA breaks makes them sensitive to genotoxic chemotherapies, allowing for the development of therapies precisely tailored to individuals’ genetic backgrounds. Unfortunately, as with many anti-cancer agents, drugs used to treat patients carrying a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation create a selective pressure, and over time tumors can become drug resistant. Here, we detail the cellular function of tumor suppressors essential in DNA damage repair pathways, present the mechanisms of action of inhibitors used to create synthetic lethality in BRCA carriers, and review the major molecular sources of drug resistance. Finally, we present examples of the many strategies being developed to circumvent drug resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101012
JournalTranslational Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • BRCA1
  • BRCA2
  • DNA damage responses
  • Drug response
  • Familial breast cancer
  • Inherited cancer
  • PARP-1
  • Synthetic lethality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Clinical use and mechanisms of resistance for PARP inhibitors in homologous recombination-deficient cancers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this