New publication from the Krämer lab on how pharmacological degradation of ATR induces antiproliferative DNA replication stress in leukemic cells

Kansy A, Ashry R, Mustafa A, Alfayomy A, Radsak M, Zeyn Y, Bros M, Sippl W, Krämer O (2024)Pharmacological degradation of ATR induces antiproliferative DNA replication stress in leukemic cells. Mol. Oncol., doi:10.1002/1878-0261.13638 



Mammalian cells replicate ~ 3 × 109 base pairs per cell cycle. One of the key molecules that slows down the cell cycle and prevents excessive DNA damage upon DNA replication stress is the checkpoint kinase ataxia-telangiectasia-and-RAD3-related (ATR). Proteolysis-targeting-chimeras (PROTACs) are an innovative pharmacological invention to molecularly dissect, biologically understand, and therapeutically assess catalytic and non-catalytic functions of enzymes. This work defines the first-in-class ATR PROTAC, Abd110/Ramotac-1. It is derived from the ATR inhibitor VE-821 and recruits the E3 ubiquitin-ligase component cereblon to ATR. Abd110 eliminates ATR rapidly in human leukemic cells. This mechanism provokes DNA replication catastrophe and augments anti-leukemic effects of the clinically used ribonucleotide reductase-2 inhibitor hydroxyurea. Moreover, Abd110 is more effective than VE-821 against human primary leukemic cells but spares normal primary immune cells. CRISPR-Cas9 screens show that ATR is a dependency factor in 116 myeloid and lymphoid leukemia cells. Treatment of wild-type but not of cereblon knockout cells with Abd110 stalls their proliferation which verifies that ATR elimination is the primary mechanism of Abd110. Altogether, our findings demonstrate specific anti-leukemic effects of an ATR PROTAC.

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