DOI: 10.1182/blood.2023019963 ISSN: 0006-4971

DNA damage response defects in hematologic malignancies: mechanistic insights and therapeutic strategies

Marwan Kwok, Angelo Agathanggelou, Tatjana Stankovic
  • Cell Biology
  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry

The DNA damage response (DDR) encompasses the detection and repair of DNA lesions and is fundamental to the maintenance of genome integrity. Germline DDR alterations underlie hereditary chromosome instability syndromes by promoting the acquisition of pathogenic structural variants in hematopoietic cells, resulting in increased predisposition to hematologic malignancies. Also frequent in hematologic malignancies are somatic mutations of DDR genes, typically arising from replication stress triggered by oncogene activation or deregulated tumor proliferation that provides a selective pressure for DDR loss. These defects impair homology-directed DNA repair or replication stress response, leading to an excessive reliance on error-prone DNA repair mechanisms that results in genomic instability and tumor progression. In hematologic malignancies, loss-of-function DDR alterations confer clonal growth advantage and adverse prognostic impact, but may also provide therapeutic opportunities. Selective targeting of functional dependencies arising from these defects could achieve synthetic lethality, a therapeutic concept exemplified by inhibition of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase or the ATR-CHK1-WEE1 axis in malignancies harboring the BRCAness phenotype or genetic defects that increase replication stress. Furthermore, the role of DDR defects as a source of tumor immunogenicity, as well as their impact on the crosstalk between DDR, inflammation and tumor immunity are increasingly recognized, thus providing rationale for combining DDR modulation with immune modulation. The nature of the DDR-immune interface and the cellular vulnerabilities conferred by DDR defects may nonetheless be disease-specific and remain incompletely understood in many hematologic malignancies. Their comprehensive elucidation will be critical for optimizing therapeutic strategies to target DDR defects in these diseases.-

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